Most people know H&M by its commonly used initials, but in fact, the Swedish based retailer’s full name is Hennes & Mauritz and the clothing company can trace its roots back to 1947, when the first store was opened in Västerås, Sweden in 1947. Its founder, Erling Persson, set himself a mission to bring fashion forward, high quality clothing to the average High Street at a reasonable price.
H&M grew steadily across Europe for the next several decades, gaining a reputation as a stylish, fashion leader and attracting collaborations with a number of well known high end designers.
It was not until 2000 that the first H&M stores opened in the US. That first store was opened on Fifth Avenue in NYC, a very appropriate location in the heart of the city’s Fashion District. In less than 15 years the number of stores located in the US has grown to over 250 and their over over 60 located in Canada. Online shopping available to North American residents was announced in 2013.
H&M’s collaborations with big name designers to produce H&M exclusive collections has become the stuff of legend. After Karl Lagerfeld produced the very first such collection offerings from the likes of Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Madonna, Roberto Cavalli, Comme des Garçons, Matthew Williamson, Jimmy Choo, Sonia Rykiel, Lanvin, Versace, Marni, David Beckham, Anna Dello Russo, Maison Martin Margiela, Isabel Marant and most recently Lady Gaga have followed. As all of these collections are only produced in limited quantities they usually sell out very quickly and become collectors items and expensive eBay fodder.
Who Can Get a Job at H&M
As it is also a design house as well as a retail operation the diversity of positions available with H&M North America is rather extensive. In store there are opportunities for full and part time retail clerks, store management and specialist visual merchandisers who are solely responsible for maintaining the impressive store displays and visuals that the company have become famous for.
Within its design division young fashions school gradates are encouraged to apply for entry level internships and paid opportunities and a number of designers who have gone on to become successful with their own companies got their start within the H&M system. There are also opportunities for fashion buyers as well.
Completing the Online H&M Application the Right Way
It is fair to say that navigating the careers section of the H&M corporate website can look a little daunting at first as the open positions available all over the world are listed in the same place. However, an efficient city/state/zip code search can narrow down the options rather quickly.
Also at the site the company provides a rather unique ‘quiz’ that potential applicants can take to determine if working for H&M is ‘the right fit’ for them. The quiz is anonymous though, so your answers do not form a part of your eventual H&M application. It can be a good way however to prepare for the kinds of questions you will be posed in an interview situation.
Once you have found a position that interests you the H&M Application is completed online. However the company does require that every applicant attaches a current resume and cover letter in addition to completing the application on the form, something that is less common in US retail at the entry level these days but reflects H&M’s European roots where the practice is still very common.
Therefore applying for even an entry level store associate position can be a little more time consuming. It is important that your resume is completely up to date and all of your spelling and grammar is correct (have someone else proof it to be sure) Your cover letter should touch briefly upon why you want the position for which you are applying but should not be overlong.
Most of the initial contact between H&M hiring managers and potential staff occurs via email,so it is very important that you provide an email address on your application that is one that you check frequently.
You will also have to be a little patient as much of the information that you will be asked to provide on the online application is repeated on your resume. Do not assume that it is OK to miss anything out though, as the resume and the application are usually stored in different places within the applicant tracking system.
Fast Facts about H&M you Might Want to Know
If you browse the H&M website you will see it noted clearly that it is expected that candidates take the time to learn about the company before they apply. To help get you started here are some interesting facts about the company you may want to know:
The Persson family is still very much involved in H&M. Although founder Erlig passed away in 2002 his son Stefan served as the company’s CEO for many years and he owns the majority stock share in company. This fact makes him wealthiest person in Sweden and the 17th richest in the world!
Recently Stefan’s son, Karl-Johan Erling Göran Persson, took over as CEO and President, something that allows H&M to be able to rightly claim that it is still a family owned and run concern, despite its size.
H&M is very serious about creating fashions that are both socially and ecologically conscious. This includes an initiative that encourages customers to bring used clothing to their local H&M store so that it can be donated or recycled, according to its condition. Customers who do so are then given a discount coupon to use in the future at H&M stores.
Every year H&M launches a worldwide competition to find the brightest and best new fashion talents. The 2013 winner, Minju Kim, recently presented her first personal collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Stockholm, Sweden.