NY-based HR expert launches mid-Covid career counseling services

New York -Fashion recruitment and HR authority and founder of Joe’s Blackbook, Joe
Medved, has launched two initiatives in an effort to support New York’s
fashion community. Both career counseling services, Joe with Joe, a
one-on-one virtual coffee meeting in which the individual can plumb the
depths of Medved’s experience, launched a few weeks ago and so far,
according to his team, every slot has been filled. Joe’s Blackbook
Sessions, on the other hand, launching today is a Zoom conference billed as
an opportunity to expand knowledge, sharpen skills, and learn from experts
on various topics. The first of these one hour sessions led by Medved on
the topic, “Sharpening your tools: Tips on how to make the most of your
career,” covers goal-setting, building your network, personal brand
storytelling, the importance of a side gig, and pivoting your career.
Future sessions will be guided by guest experts and all proceeds go to the
Joe’s Blackbook Scholarship fund.

Medved, a victim of the last crisis which rocked the fashion industry,
the 2008 recession, was laid off after a decade heading recruitment at
Abercrombie & Fitch. He speaks of it as a tough blow, after having invested
in his job to such an extent that he didn’t have much of an identity
outside of it. Now he considers it the best thing that could have happened
to him as it led to the inception of Joe’s Blackbook, now in its second
decade. Sometimes you need to get out to go up, he says, and encourages
those who have been furloughed or laid off in recent weeks, to use this
time to do some homework. Update your skills; continue education even if
it’s from Youtube; work out a 3 or 5 year plan and hold yourself
accountable; define yourself clearly; edit your portfolio ruthlessly;
explore monetizing your side passion; cold call mentors, allies or even
strangers within companies where you would like to work for a virtual
coffee date.

A few hours before the first session, FashionUnited reached out to
Medved to further discuss his motivation for the series which had been in
the planning for some time but which suddenly seemed more necessary than
ever.

What pushed you to launch the series now?

With the arrival of Covid-19 most people are sheltering in place with
little or no contact with the outside world. Many people are feeling
uncertainty about their careers, some have been furloughed or laid off from
jobs. We feel that at this time people are looking to connect and seeking
advice and leadership to help them navigate though this time. We are
connectors in the retail, fashion and technology space. We do this through
the placement of talent at companies, connecting businesses to other
businesses where there are synergies (just did this the other day),
connecting manufacturers to companies to help with speed-to-market and
innovation, collaborations and other mutually beneficial connections. This
is just another way to connect people to help them grow using a digital
platform and adapt to the current situation.

Are the individual virtual coaching sessions, Joe with Joe, geared more
towards graduate and emerging designers or CEOs and seasoned
professionals?

We do this usually in-person, so this is digitally adapting to offer
this service during the Covid crisis and also to allow us to reach people
that we cannot meet in-person. We have been very busy with this program and
most people are more senior in their careers either looking advice on how
to grow within their current company, seeking a new opportunity, or looking
for advice on how to start their own business. This service allows us to
tailor to individual needs, whether that be advice on portfolios/resumes or
on how to become a better leader. CEOs, Creative Directors, sourcing
professionals, emerging talent have all been a part of Joe with Joe.

You have a broad fashion industry network accumulated over years. What
is the current mood generally in your community?

The mood is mixed. Some people are scared and not sure what to do,
others are seeing this as an opportunity to explore other career options
and many are wondering how their companies will survive or evolve.

There has been endless speculation on how Covid-19 will forever change
how the fashion industry operates but what specific changes do you identify
as already happening or on the horizon?

Our industry had been going through major changes prior to Covid-19,
from the explosion of fast fashion/discount retail, to the move toward the
digital selling platform and a more genuine sustainability focus. And many
brands were already struggling to survive. Some of the smaller brands are
already shuttering and the larger brands are going to use Covid as an
excuse to shed some overhead and trim headcount. With everyone working from
home using Zoom and other technologies I believe this will open up more
companies to work-from-home in some situations and allow more
flexibility. I think larger companies will continue to get smaller (keeping
a core group of people who understand the brand and how to use technology)
and then rely more heavily on the gig/freelance/consultant workforce when
needed. This will allow companies to keep overhead low and continue to
bring fresh ideas within the organization. The reliance on China for the
supply chain I believe will be reviewed and new sourcing strategies will be
put in place and perhaps some manufacturing may come back to the
States.

Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for
the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.

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