A common mistake I see fashion professionals of all experience levels make in their career is just applying to any job because it’s available and sounds interesting, not knowing much about the company OR just knowing about it because it’s a popular brand, nothing about its inner operations or culture.
When you do this, one of 2 things happens:
You get the job, but after a few months, you don’t really feel connected to the company. After a while, it just becomes a job and by the end of your first year, you’re ready to get out of there.
You apply to it and you get that automated rejection email. Which just pisses you off because you just want to shout at your computer and say, “I didn’t even want this role!”
Has this ever happened to you or is it just me?
In both of these scenarios, the common denominator is that you didn’t have any information on the company when you applied.
…Believe it or not, there is a way to create a solid plan that will ensure you work with THE ideal company that falls in line with your career objectives and goals.
The process for creating your ideal company profile works best broken up into 3 parts:
First, we’ll discuss personal research and understanding that has to happen within you to lay the foundational groundwork
Then, once you have this laid out and you understand what you’re looking for in an ideal company (or companies), you’ll start on external public research. This will include rigorous online Google searching!
From there, you’ll conduct network research, meaning you’ll reach out to those within your network and extended networks in your surroundings.
Let’s get started!
PART 1: PERSONAL RESEARCH
This part of your research includes understanding the details of a company that will affect you directly as a potential employee in the short AND long term.
Start by familiarizing yourself with the different segments of the fashion industry, such as ready-to-wear, streetwear or fast fashion. Each comes with its own different types of products and target audiences. It’s important for you to understand the differences between each of these and to lay them out in a way that sets each apart. This will make it easier for you to decide which segment of the industry you want to be a part of.
Once you have an idea of the segment you’d want to work within, research fashion companies and brands in that desired segment of the industry. Look for companies that align with your personal interests and career goals.
For example, if you are interested in sustainable fashion, look for companies that have a strong commitment to sustainability and ethical practices.
Remember that if the companies you are interested in are well-known, remove any bias you have for them as a consumer and look at it purely from an analytical perspective. Shopping at a brand and working for them are 2 very different experiences, which could either prove to be amazing or change the way you look at the company in the end.
Some important things to look for when researching potential companies are:
1. Look for companies that have a diverse team and promote inclusivity.
This will ensure you’ll find a healthy and positive work environment. Plus, it will definitely help you identify companies that align with your values and beliefs.
Some tips for doing this are:
→ Research the company’s leadership team and check their diversity. This will give you an idea of the company’s commitment to inclusivity.
→ Look for any awards or recognition the company has received for their diversity and inclusivity initiatives. Many companies that prioritize these areas within their culture are recognized for their efforts.
→ Check the company’s diversity statistics. Sometimes, companies will publicly share statistics on the diversity of their workforce, such as the percentage of employees from underrepresented groups. Look for these statistics on the company’s website or in their annual report.
2. Look for companies that offer a clear career development path.
Identifying these companies and opportunities for growth will help you recognize brands that align with your career aspirations.
In order to find a company’s career development path, you can:
→ Research the company’s website and their career page.
Many companies will have a dedicated career or jobs page on their website that outlines the different roles and opportunities available within the company. Look for information on career development programs, training and development opportunities and upward mobility within the company.
Upward mobility just means the potential for employees to advance within the company, typically by moving into higher-level roles with more responsibilities and higher pay. Some examples of this are: promotions, professional development programs or even job rotations.
→ Check the company’s annual report or other financial documents.
Many companies will outline their plans for growth and expansion in their annual report or other financial documents. Look for information on new projects, planned expansion and especially new hires to get an idea of the company’s overall growth and development plans.
→ Look for company’s testimonials or employee reviews.
Using sites such as Glassdoor, you can check employee reviews to get an idea of the company’s work environment, culture and most importantly, employee satisfaction. Look for mentions of career development opportunities, employee training and advancement within the company.
→ Checking their social media profiles.
Many companies will use social media to share information about new hires, promotions and other career development opportunities. Keep an eye out for updates on employee promotions, new roles and responsibilities and other news that indicates a clear career development path within the company
→ Look for potential mentorship or employee development programs.
Many companies offer these programs as part of their employee packages which can indicate an almost definite career development path within the company.
→ Research the company’s leadership team and the tenure of its employees.
Companies that promote from within and have a career development path often have a leadership team that has been with the company for a long time and have progressed through the ranks. This will be an important part of your research as this information is a little easier to find than the others.
At this point, you should have a solid breakdown of segments within the industry, a better idea of which ones you’re interested in working within and a clear list of brands and information about each brand that will help you find the best company fit within your personal career journey.
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PART 2: EXTERNAL PUBLIC RESEARCH
This part includes understanding the inner workings of the companies you’re most interested in to help you determine whether they align with your personal beliefs and career goals.
First, check out the company’s annual report, financial statements and industry reports. This will give you an idea of the company’s financial health, its size and customer base.
This information is usually open to the public, it’s just a matter of searching.
THEIR MANAGEMENT TEAM
A company’s annual report can provide information on their management team, including their background and experience, which can give you an idea of the company’s leadership and decision-making processes.
The annual report can also provide information on the company’s risk factors. This is so important because knowing this will help you understand key decision-making factors about any company.
Knowing a company’s risk factors can give you an idea of their financial stability and the potential for layoffs or downsizing. If a company is facing financial difficulties or has a history of layoffs, it may mean less job security for you.
Knowing a company’s risk factors can also give you an idea of the company’s growth prospects and potential for career advancement. If a company is facing financial difficulties or has a history of downsizing, it may be less likely to offer you opportunities for career advancement than a company that is financially stable and growing.
Additionally, if a company has a history of financial difficulties, downsizing or other issues, it may be viewed negatively in the industry, which could impact your future job prospects.
Alternatively, knowing a company’s risk factors can give you an advantage during negotiations. For example, if a company is facing financial difficulties, you could possibly negotiate a higher salary or better benefits.
Many annual reports also include information on a company’s CSR initiatives and sustainability efforts. Researching a company’s CSR initiatives before applying for a job can be important for several reasons:
→ Alignment with personal values:
Knowing a company’s CSR initiatives and sustainability efforts can give you an idea of how the company operates and whether it aligns with your personal values and beliefs. This can help you decide if the company is the right fit for you.
Companies that have strong CSR initiatives are often viewed positively by consumers and other stakeholders, providing a positive impact on the company’s reputation which can definitely be beneficial for your career growth.
Now, if you’re passionate about sustainability and corporate social responsibility on a personal level, working for a company that prioritizes these initiatives can lead to higher job satisfaction.
These types of companies usually offer opportunities for employees to develop new skills and knowledge in these areas, which can be beneficial for your professional development. Because there is a strong focus on innovation and growth, companies with strong CSR initiatives are often at the forefront of industry trends, which can make them more attractive to potential employees and customers and by extension, look better on your resume.
Some examples of CSR organizations within the fashion industry are:
→ The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) – which is an industry-wide group of over 250 members, including major brands, retailers and manufacturers that work to reduce the environmental and social impact of apparel and footwear products
→ The Fair Labor Association (FLA) – an organization that promotes and monitors fair labor practices in the fashion industry
→ The Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) – a nonprofit organization that aims to lead and accelerate the fashion industry’s transition to a sustainable future
→ The Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) – a nonprofit organization that works to promote sustainable fashion practices and support ethical and sustainable fashion businesses.
Once you’ve exhausted your search within the company’s annual report, you’ll want to research the company’s competitors.
By getting this information, you’ll be able to compare their strategies and target audience to get a sense of the company’s position in the market which will help you identify the companies that align with your personal career aspirations.
Start by looking at the company’s website to learn about the products and services they offer. Look for companies that offer similar products or services to the company you’re researching.
Online Search Tools
Use online search tools like Google to search for the company’s main competitors. Look for news articles, press releases and other information about the company and its competitors.
Social Media Channels
Many companies will use social media to share information about their products, services, and promotions. Bonus pro tip: look for mentions of the company’s competitors on their social media profiles
Look for customer reviews of the company and its competitors on sites such as Yelp or Google. These reviews can give you a sense of the company’s reputation and how they compare to their competitors.
The External Public Research portion of this exercise will really help you single out the companies that are not a good fit with your personal beliefs and career aspirations, helping you narrow down the ones that are.
PART 3: OUTREACH
The final portion of this exercise that will help you solidify your Ideal Company List is outreach. Taking the information you’ve compiled about your personal ethics and standards, plus the thorough research you did on the company’s you’re interested in, the next is to get some additional information from your personal and extended networks.
The goal here is to ask for referrals and recommendations
Reach out to people in your network: professionals in the industry, alumni and even professors, and ask for recommendations. Chances are, you’ll be surprised by the valuable insights these people may be able to provide, which could align with your interests and career goals.
Some of the best ways to do this are:
→ Personalized Email:
Reach out to your professional network with a personalized email asking for recommendations. In the email, be specific about the type of company or role you’re looking for and explain how their recommendation would be valuable to you.
Utilize LinkedIn to reach out to your professional network and ask for their thoughts on companies or roles that could align with your interests and career goals based on everything you’ve learned about yourself from the research you’ve done
→ Virtual Informational Meeting:
Schedule a phone or video call with individuals in your network to discuss your job search and ask for their recommendations. This allows for a more personal conversation and can give you more detailed information about the companies or roles they recommend that align with your professional goals and overall career path
→ Research company reviews:
Check company reviews on sites such as Glassdoor, to get an idea of the company’s work environment, culture, and employee satisfaction. This can help you identify companies that align with your interests and career goals.
Once you’ve gotten a list of recommended companies and roles based on your research from within your network, you can start to look for a way in.
→ Ask for an introduction:
If someone in your network knows someone at a company or organization you’re interested in, ask them to introduce you. This can be a great way to get your foot in the door and learn more about the company or role.
→ Use your alumni network:
Utilize your alumni network to reach out to individuals who have graduated from your school and now work in your desired industry or at companies you’re interested in. They can provide valuable insights and potentially connect you with job opportunities.
→ Use your professors network:
Reach out to your professors and ask for their help and recommendation. They can give you valuable advice and potentially connect you with industry professionals.
Important to note to: remember that you absolutely need to be specific in your requests when asking for recommendations.
Be specific about the type of company or role you’re looking for and explain how their recommendation would be valuable to you. This will help them understand how they can help you and make it easier for them to provide a recommendation.
IN THE END…
Once you have all of this information, you’ll be able to create an ideal company profile which you can use for years to come in your career. This, along with your goals, will help you become the fashion professional you aspire to be with ease and confidence.
Before applying to any specific brand or company, be sure to evaluate your match with them. Determine how the organization’s mission resonates with your career goals and passions. This can help you find the best companies for your personality, talents and your qualifications.
Pursuing positions with companies you admire and align with will help you find a job that you love and meet colleagues that you truly connect with.
It’s also important to remember that while conducting this research, you have to be as honest as possible and really envision yourself at each of the companies you look into. This will give you a glimpse into the company culture and the opportunity to take information and apply it to you personally, giving you an understanding for whether or not the company you’re researching is the best fit.
So what did you think?
I know it seems like a lot of work, because it is. And because of this, not many people actually do it. But I can assure you that taking the time to understand your ideal companies will ensure your happiness and peace of mind no matter where you decide to apply to and work for. It will also mean the difference between staying at a company because you thoroughly enjoy it, are growing as a professional and want to keep advancing within that organization.
Don’t forget to download your very own checklist that goes along with this episode to help you as you create your ideal company profile and research. Just head to mariahedian.com/idealcompanychecklist. The link can also be found at the end of this post below. Be sure to use this checklist as long as you need to within your fashion career.
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