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Selection process

While it's a popular career path for those wanting to break into the fashion industry, retailers will pay more for those with specialist buying skills.

The lure of being able to spend the working day attending buying appointments and tradeshows, and sifting through beautiful product means that fashion buying remains one of the most consistently over-subscribed career paths among graduates.

"There are humongous amounts of candidates that want to get into this industry in a buying capacity, especially at entry level," says Julie Man, recruitment consultant, buying and merchandising at Fashion & Retail Personnel. "Employers are being very particular at the moment, and candidates need to be able to tick all of the boxes - not just being able to do the job, but also being the right fit for the team," she says.

Despite the initial competition, the financial rewards are there for those who make the grade, according to Drapers' research into average buying salaries. London-based candidates can expect to earn a starting salary of £20,835 once they have got their foot in the door as a buyers' admin assistant, and can expect this to leap to £56,109 by the time they reach senior buyer level. While the highest salaries are reserved for London, those outside of the capital can still earn up to £76,285 by the time they reach buying director level.

Larger brands and retailers, where they tend to promote from within, often pay the highest salaries. "We have robust succession plans in place for buying and merchandising, which we will also review before making the decision to look externally," says Maureen Jones, HR business partner at Debenhams.

Despite the popularity of buying roles, Jones says specialist roles can still be hard to fill. "Footwear and lingerie buying roles can prove a challenge to recruit for, as there will be a limited pool of candidates that have this specialist skill set," she says.

In order to climb through the ranks, Man insists that a gap-free CV demonstrating taste level, via like-for-like experience, is essential. "If your experience is buying for supermarkets, where margins are tight, and where fabrics and trims are not as nice, then you may not be suitable for someone like Burberry," she says.

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