Finding a job, any job, is tough, but particularly so in fashion media—a small, competitive world where people tend to hang onto their positions for dear life. But there are ways to make sure your cover letter and resume get placed in the “Yes” pile—at least long enough to get you in the door for an interview.
Here are 10 turn-offs from actual cover letters and resumes that I have seen in my 6+ years as editor-in-chief of FASHION.
Don’t say “It’s my dream to work in fashion”
I get that working at a fashion magazine is a dream for many. But telling me that in your cover letter makes you sound like a tween. Even for an entry level position, I, like many others, am looking for mature person who can handle lots of responsibility, stay calm under pressure and be a team player. Focus on the skills and experience that are relevant to the position. If it’s your dream to work in fashion, you should be able to provide some related experience even if it’s a part-time retail job, contributing to a blog or working on a school fashion show.
Don’t insult the brand you are applying to
If I ask you to critique our magazine, website and social media channels in an interview, that’s one thing. I have already established you as a potential candidate and am looking for fresh ideas you can bring to the table. But trashing our brand in your cover letter—outlining improvements you would like to make, for example—is not going to make me want to hire you. It might indicate that you don’t understand our positioning in the market. I would also worry about whether you would be disrespectful to me and the rest of our team.
Don’t tell me you will solve all my problems
Opening your cover letter with, “You can stop searching right now because I am your new x,” is a sure first step toward the trash bin. All it does is paint you as an arrogant know-it-all. “Hire me and you won’t be sorry” is a recurring theme, whether it is in those exact words or expressed in a more subtle way. Telling me you are so special you have never found a task you couldn’t master is another red flag—everyone has strengths and weaknesses and if you can’t admit the latter, that’s a problem.