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The Ultimate Guide for Graduate Job Seekers


By Katy Lock

Where do you start?

So, you’ve decided that you want to pursue a career in retail. But before you get going on your applications it’s important to think about the types of roles that you feel you would enjoy and would have the right skills and experience for. Also think about what your long term career prospects are. In this competitive job market my clients like candidates who have really researched the roles they are applying for and are focused on a specific career path. Knowledge is power!

Remember retail isn’t just traditional buying and merchandising these days, digital roles are rising, and roles such as social media assistant and online trading assistant didn’t exist 10 years ago! This can be a great way to start your fashion career, as you may have some highly sought after digital skills.

So what does it take to succeed?

Remember, each role and business will be looking for slightly different qualities in a candidate, but here are a few golden rules that will seriously help.

  • A recent related degree
  • Retail shop floor and/or admin experience – either full time or part time during your studies
  • Work placements or internships gained within the sector you are looking to secure a job in
  • Strong commercial awareness
  • Enthusiasm – be the go-getter!
  • Organisation is key
  • Resilience and the ability to cope in a fast paced pressurised environment

Making an Application

  • Target specific agencies and job boards related to the roles and industry that you want to get into. Use Social Media (follow us!) to hear about the latest roles in real-time.
  • Is the role you are applying for within the area that you really want to work in? Recruiters will want to know why you have chosen to apply for that role and its particular career path.
  • Make sure you have researched salaries and have realistic expectations.
  • Avoid applying for several different vacancies with the same recruiter. Retailers are looking for focused candidates.
  • Be realistic. Do you have the skills and experience required for the role?
  • Keep your covering letter brief and the format of your CV clear and easy to read.
  • Check your spelling and grammar – if possible get a friend to read it too, as another pair of eyes can always help.


The Interview

  • Take the interview seriously; your attitude is every bit as important as your qualifications.
  • Ensure you have thoroughly researched the role and the company. If you have been asked to prepare anything in advance, make sure this has been done to the best of your ability, don’t leave it until the last minute!
  • Plan your route in advance and allow plenty of time, be early but not too early!
  • Plan what you are going to wear; typically most retail businesses prefer candidates not to come in suits or business attire. Most have a more relaxed dress code and like to get a sense of your personality, style and brand fit. If you aren’t sure check with the recruiter.
  • Be enthusiastic and show you are informed about the organisation and the role – smile!
  • Avoid one word answers, back your answers up with relevant examples.
  • Be honest, but also ensure you actively promote your skills and potential.
  • Stick to the point, make sure you are answering the question asked.
  • If you are not sure or do not understand the question always ask for clarification, or if you do not know the answer to a question, say so.
  • At the end of the interview ask questions, this shows an interest in the business and the role that you are applying for.

As well as traditional  retail head office opportunities such as Buyer’s Admin Assistant, Design Assistant, Allocator and Merchandising Admin Assistant it is worth thinking about other  opportunities that exist within retailers such as Online Trading Assistant, Junior PHP Developer, Junior Digital Designer, Junior Front End Developer, Social Media Assistant and many more!

If you’re a graduate looking for a new role, get in contact with Katy or contact us to see what graduate roles they have on offer. Remember to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter too!


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