Visual merchandising is an immensely competitive industry and progressing your career in this field can be highly demanding. But with a great attitude, knowledge and preparation your next position could be right around the corner. Whether you are looking to start a career in visual merchandising or take the next step in an existing role, follow these directions to find what you are searching for and how exactly you can achieve your goals in this dynamic and constantly evolving industry.
Like a majority of careers in fashion and the creative industries, visual merchandising has a glamourous and exciting aspect to it. But like with everything else, requires dedication, passion, commitment and hard work.
Whatever stage you are at in your career in visual merchandising, the first thing you need to do is prepare and plan ahead.
What opportunities are available and where is the best place to look?
Beginning your career as a sales assistant is one way to work your way up to becoming a visual merchandiser. While you are working in this position you can volunteer to help the existing in-store VMs or speak with the VMs that visit your store to get valuable experience for your CV. This may require you to put in extra hours and overtime before you actually make it into your first role, but will add immense value in terms of workplace experience and knowledge.
Shift patterns for visual merchandising can vary. You may be expected to start at 7am to organise and set up displays before the store opens but you may also be required to do night shifts to change the layout of entire stores and displays, depending on the need of the business.
Apply for jobs at the appropriate level as within visual merchandising there are many different roles such as in-store VM, window dresser or creative manager.
There are also many brands to choose from so do your research. You may be keen on womenswear but have you ever thought to consider roles within menswear, children’s wear or even homeware and decor? It is harder to move between markets once you have established your career so make these key decisions early on.
How to Write a Visual Merchandising CV
When preparing your CV there are essential points that recruiters look for:
- Outline each of your previous roles and highlight any contract roles or work experience. If you have a fashion related degree, be sure to include this as this may further your chances.
- A great visual merchandiser will have lots of inspiration and a keen interest in art and fashion. Ensure your CV details what you are personally interested in, this could be anything from your own personal blog to designs you may have created in the past. Even something along the lines of having helped a friend decorate their house, with imagery to accompany it could prove valuable.
- When working in visual merchandising you are required not only to be creative but also great with numbers. Talk about your team management skills. Even if you have not yet had the opportunity to directly manage anyone, consider if you have coached another member of staff, whether it be sales assistants or visual standards.
- If you are planning to apply for head office roles, outline any software packages you can use such as photoshop and indesign.
- The fundamental point is to highlight precisely what will set you apart from other candidates. Your key achievements are things you have achieved in your current and previous roles that you are really proud of. Try to be specific with your example rather than general, wide-ranging accomplishments.
Prepare for the Interview
Before your interview, make sure you have an up-to-date and relevant portfolio that exhibits an extensive variety of your skills and work. Present all pictures well and ensure they are clear. It is also a great idea to take a copy with you to leave with the interviewer. Be sure to visit the company’s stores and also research the company’s website thoroughly before your interview.
As this is a creative role, you may be asked to prepare a presentation. This is your chance to really show off your creative flair as a visual merchandiser and show that you understand the direction of the company and the target consumers. If you haven’t been asked to present a formal presentation it could be a great idea to carry out a SWOT analysis to identify the company’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as it external opportunities and potential threats. By doing this you are also allowing yourself to get thinking about the retailer or brand you are interviewing with.
Throughout the interview, be prepared to talk through your CV. Make sure you confidently know your career path and be ready to elaborate all of your great achievements. You may also be asked to complete more practical tasks such as a floor walk or to restyle an entire section of a store.
On the morning of your interview, be sure to check exactly who you are expected to meet with. You should also be aware there may be other members of the team present that are invited to meet with you, so be prepared. When choosing your interview outfit make sure you dress to reflect the brand or retailer, this does not mean dressing head to toe in their range, but imitating their style can show passion for their business and also great attention to detail.
Undoubtedly, you will be assessed on your creative skills and knowledge so it is crucial to make sure you are up to date with the current and upcoming fashion trends. Remember, your interview is also your chance to find out more about the role and the company. Think back to the most important aspects you were looking for in your new role and ask questions relating to them. This is your chance to find out if the company is a good fit for you and your own career goals.
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