One size does not fit all when it comes to crafting your resume for a fashion-industry job.

Whether you have years of experience or are a recent grad searching for an entry-level position, the goal of a resume is to help you stand out from the large pile of resumes that land on the desks of HR departments and hiring managers. Essentially, if you tailor your resume with industry-specific keywords and skills every time you send it out, you’ll have a better chance of nailing an interview.

We’re not talking about flashy graphics or fancy printing. In fact, save the bling for another purpose. You’ll benefit more from researching the company you want to work for, analyzing the job description, and using that information in the context of your resume to speak directly to the hiring manager or principal of the business.

Key Takeaways

  • All good resumes need to have enough industry-specific references to get past the keyword software that many employers use, and enough specific details to make the applicant stand out from others.
  • For fashion industry jobs, create one standard resume that is keyword-heavy, and a second resume that is less traditional and shows more creativity.
  • Frame previous job titles in ways that detail industry-specific responsibilities, such as Assistant Pattern Designer, rather than just Assistant.
  • Present the resume in a simple, streamlined manner; provide accurate information, and content that is well-written and carefully proofread.

The Takeaway for Creating Your Resume:

Develop two types of resumes – saved in PDF format – to use when responding to a job posting: 

  1. A text-only scannable version for HR departments, online applications, and companies that use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). 
  2. An alternate version that shows off your creative side through simple, organized page layout. Approach this resume as a scaled-back one-page portfolio and use it when applying directly to a design job, a smaller company, or when you hope to show your work directly to a principal (owner or co-owner in a private company).

Keep the resume simple with well-organized sections that use bullet points to outline skills and experience.

Set up your resume based in chronological order if you have worked on many projects or have a lot of experience. Use a skills-based style if you are just starting out or have limited experience.

Limit formatting and fonts. A clean, minimal design will have more impact on the person looking through a stack of resumes.

Be honest and don’t exaggerate.

Make sure content is well-written and immaculately proofread.

Add in Industry-Specific Keywords

Nowadays, most resumes will be scanned by the ATS to seek out industry-specific keywords that relate to the job posting. If your resume lacks certain key phrases it will be tossed aside. To avoid this, look at the job description and other similar job postings for a pattern of repeated words/phrases, terminology and skills. Where appropriate, use those words – in context – on your resume. Examples of fashion-industry keywords include:

  • Apparel specifications 
  • Pattern development 
  • Market strategies 
  • Presentation boards

For help with keywords and resume development, check out online career services from fashion design schools. Two useful sources are the career services department's Resume Guide from the Fashion Institute of Technology, part of SUNY, and the downloadable Job Search Guide from Parsons: The New School of Design, both based in New York City.

Make small, important changes to your resume for each new job you apply for so that it reads as specific to the position you are seeking; while having a template to work from is good, the same exact resume is not necessarily best for every position, even within the same industry.

Put Effective Job Titles to Use

Five seconds – that’s how long an employer looks at a resume before moving on to the next one, so every ounce of information counts. Hiring managers often look for related experience first. Be accurate and specific about the titles used to grab attention. Here are a few examples:

  • Original title: Assistant. Better title: Showroom Assistant in Menswear.
  • Original title: Secretarial Position. Better title: Administrative Assistant – MS Office Professional.
  • Original title: Designer. Better title: Junior Designer Reporting to Group Design Leader – Adobe CS, AutoCAD, Excel.

Research the fashion industry at sites that cater to designers and job seekers such as The Garment District NYC, WWD CareersWell Threaded.

Finally, check that your contact information is correct, legible and easy to locate. This should include a phone number, business email address, LinkedIn URL, and online portfolio URL.

The Bottom Line

Your goal is to present your credentials and accomplishments in a professional manner so that you are called for an interview. Having the right resume is an important first step, so it's worth taking care to tailor it to suit the field where you want to work.