Changing Fashions – The new challenges in Fashion Recruitment in 2018

Change is an inherent part of fashion but the last 18 months has seen such radical shifts within the sector, notably within recruitment, that employers may be forgiven for once, for being behind the times.  In this blog we look at the trends that are influencing the movement of skilled staff within the fashion world and we will offer advice to employers to help them recruit the talented staff that will set them apart from their competitors.

Here at People Marketing, whilst we have experienced a drop in European assignments we have also seen an increase in demand for staff within sourcing offices particularly in China, Hong Kong and Bangladesh as clients look to strengthen their sourcing offer in a competitive market.  It is also worth noting that some employees from the EU have taken the referendum vote as a signal to return to their homeland, exacerbating pre-existing skill shortages.

The drop in consumer confidence caused by uncertainty in the economy has translated into a challenging retail environment for the clothing sector. Clearly, innovative, commercial design is the key to success, and we are seeing retailers move back to buying led structures therefore the design function is being pushed back to the supply chain. This creates exciting opportunities within suppliers, subsequently, we have seen an increase in Designers who are open to a move from brands and retailers to more creative, hands on roles in the supply chain.

UK manufacturing has been reportedly bolstered by the drop in the value of Sterling, and we have seen an increase in demand for production staff in the UK. More notable however has been the increase in demand for experienced export sales staff as companies seek to capitalise on new opportunities overseas.

Our Friends in the North

The area of fast fashion online retail has exploded as consumers both within the UK and overseas chase high fashion at low prices with the convenience of online ordering. Brands and suppliers are also using ecommerce as a route to market, leading to a growing demand for ecommerce skills including Retail Merchandising, Marketing and Social Media.

There is a war on talent in the North West, fast fashion retailers are competing to secure the best experienced candidates, pushing up the salaries on offer.

The challenge is to tempt candidates away from their current employer, keeping in mind counter offers are rife, and offer a package that is more attractive that the competition.

We have also seen an increase of companies looking to attract talent from London with candidates being open to relocation to escape the rising cost of living in the capital. This may include flexible working hours or a relocation budget.

Swipe Right? 

Are changes in candidate behaviour preventing you from finding your perfect match?

At one time you could post your job advert in a relevant publication and wait for quality applications to flow in. Paper adverts are just about dead and candidates no longer use a single jobsite to search for jobs, application rates are dropping. As an employer you are unlikely to receive a sufficient range of applicants from a single source and so it is vital to use a combination of methods.

It has become increasingly important to engage with ‘passive’ job seekers in order to find suitable candidates. Candidates often adopt a ‘come and get me’ attitude, meaning many may not even see, let alone apply, to a job advert. This is where an established specialist agency can help through actively contacting potential candidates, talking through your vacancies, and explaining why it could be a good career move for them.

LinkedIn is undeniably a valuable networking tool, but it is in no way a quick fix, it is true that the tech savvy candidates will chat openly via the IM function, but for the wider LinkedIn community, this can be a lengthy process. Many candidates will steer away from the additional ‘noise’ until they need you, and you will find a number of dormant or duplicate accounts, LinkedIn is a great tool in your armoury, but should not be regarded as the answer to your prayers.

Last year we sourced candidates from 35 different platforms compared to 22 in 2016, these included career fairs, job alerts, CV Clinics, social media, and our favourite one: recommendations, this allows us to give our clients a wider spread of candidates than they are likely to achieve themselves.

Flexible Friends

The speed of recruitment has increased notably with good candidates fielding multiple job offers and being snapped up by companies able to move quickly. As an unwanted side-effect we have seen an increase in the number of candidates pulling out of interviews, accepting an attractive job offer rather than exploring other options first. It is increasingly important to understand your candidates’ motivation for looking for a new role and to stay close to them during the recruitment process.

Candidates still look at the salary and benefits package on offer but other factors are also important. One of the big drivers has been the desire of candidates to work more flexibly. Reducing the daily commute is particularly attractive, as is the opportunity to work around childcare constraints or improve work-life balance. Can you offer flexibility in the roles you are seeking to fill?

Where to turn?

At People Marketing we are adapting to the changing face of fashion recruitment and our expert consultants are here to help you find your perfect candidate. Though fashions and trends are continually changing, what remains unchanged is the need to have the right people around you to take your business forward. Call us and let us be your guide.