Recruiter Interview – Jen Aberin
What company do you work for?
Kohl’s Department Stores
What is your job title?
Senior Creative Recruiter
What type of recruiting do you do?
Tell us a little about yourself.
Crazy cat lady, plant mom, MOM-mom and eyebrow enthusiast. There’s nothing I love more than hearing people’s stories!
How did you get into recruiting?
My path into recruiting was wayward but looking back it all makes sense. I began my career at Kohl’s in finance and while I was really good at it, I really didn’t love it. After some time, someone that I’d connected with on my orientation day reached out with an opportunity in the creative space. I had an incredibly supportive leader at the time who really helped me explore the new opportunity and that was truly the catalyst that would launch the next decade or so of my career.
I began in Creative Coordination, then Model Booking and Casting and eventually Fashion Photography Production. I would later go on to become an Agent for a Global Modeling Agency. I have always loved working in the Retail and Fashion industry! For me, it has always been about the people and relationships. Working alongside and supporting incredibly talented, humble, creative and hardworking people and hearing their stories was life changing for me.
After commuting daily from Milwaukee to Chicago for about two years, I was ready for a change and more balance. After some soul searching, I identified that what I’m most passionate about is people and at the same time this Creative Recruiter role came up and it just made so much sense. It felt like a huge leap, but one I’m so glad that I made.
Tell us about your company.
Kohl’s is an incredible organization. Our brand is very accessible and I think sometimes people underestimate what a large and innovative company we really are. There is so much opportunity!
Why would a fashion industry job seeker want to work at/with your company?
There are so many reasons! I think that our business is incredibly well run and stable. Our processes are thoughtful. Our leadership is inspired and accessible and they truly care. Our teams are collaborative and are a true community. We have incredible benefits and infrastructure. We care about holistic wellness, the community and our environment.
It’s a place where I got my start and so many people invested and played a role in my success. I feel like our organization truly cares about the community that we’re building and that we operate within. There’s a deeper sense of purpose in everything we do and it truly makes a difference. It’s a place where you can bring your talent and your passion and who you really are and find success. Oh, and the food is AMAZING.
Tell us about the hiring process at your company.
At Kohl’s, we really care about candidate experience. As a Recruiter, I’m here to support you and advocate for you throughout the process. We want the best of the best and also greatly value things like kindness, grit and work ethic. Typically after our initial conversation, the next step is to connect you with a hiring manager over the phone and sometimes there is a project or assessment. Then we invite you onsite for a final interview. We love to help you explore our city and really see yourself here. Truly, we’re looking to make a match!
What types of fashion industry positions do you recruit for?
I am the primary recruiter for our HQ Product and Apparel Art and Design, Technical Design, Product Development and Merchants. I work very closely with my colleague based at our NY Design office as well as other areas of our business.
What sources do you use the most to find fashion industry talent? (jobboards, newspapers, social media, personal networking, colleges, etc…)
My Network and I live on LinkedIn. It’s always incredible and humbling when people are referred to me. Shares = Cares in our industry!
What are some common misconceptions job seekers have about your job?
I think that prior to becoming a Recruiter I didn’t understand how deeply some Recruiters care about candidates, their experience or the joy you feel when you’re extending an offer to someone and you know it’s a good thing for them. We’re just as bummed as you are sometimes when it doesn’t work out!
What should job seekers know about your job as a recruiter?
Credibility is key for all Recruiters. The easier you make it for us to illustrate to a hiring manager that you’re a good fit, the more likely you are to get a call back. Take a minute and see if there’s a specific job that you’re curious about and help me connect the dots. Also, I believe that a conversation is never wasted, but at the same time we are pulled in a lot of directions and inundated with information, requisitions, contacts, messages etc. Although it can be difficult, we really do appreciate when people are direct and specific.
What are some of the most common mistakes fashion industry job seekers make when looking/applying/interviewing/etc… for a job?
Echoing my last sentiment, help me connect the dots. For example, your portfolio is super edgy and avant garde. First off – you have no idea how cool/talented/creative I think you are. However, I need you to supplement that with something a little more straight forward and applicable to the role you’re applying to. Applying to a role in kids design? Throw in a few sketches and concepts that you think align with our customer. Keep in mind that I also need to get a hiring manager on board to help you move on to the next step!
What’s the craziest thing a job seeker has ever said to you?
I’ve had people that I’ve declined refer their friends, family and colleagues to me and keep in touch as they move on to to their next opportunity. Not really crazy, but so humbling and unexpected sometimes.
What’s the most inappropriate thing you’ve seen on a resume?
Spelling errors gone terribly wrong.
What advice do you have for younger job seekers?
Always think about your customer and be curious. In the corporate design world we’re looking for customer obsession, collaboration and creative solutions. Your portfolio should be your best work. Take potential employers on a journey from concept through completion. Demonstrate your point of view and how you can really focus your creativity and talent into creating something that is sell-able.
What advice do you have for older job seekers?
Always think about your customer and be curious. Also, take some time to really define what’s most important to you. Don’t be afraid to switch gears, make mistakes or try new things! Your career is too short to pigeon-hole yourself or to be unhappy.
What are some common mistakes fashion industry job seekers make during the job search process? Resumes/Cover Letters/Correspondence/Applications/Follow-up/Interview/etc…
Take a moment and look at the company’s career site to see if there’s a specific role or roles that you’re interested in and inquire specifically. For creative roles always make sure your portfolio is attached, is functional and is applicable to the role that you’re applying to. Also, we know that you’re likely applying to a lot of different places, but if you’re going to attach a cover letter, triple check that it’s addressed to the correct company!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
There is so much power in curiosity, authenticity and sharing your story with others.
Jen Aberin was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI where she resides with her husband, two children, fur babies and beloved house plants. She gets to see the sun come up over Lake Michigan every morning and set over the city every evening. She never knew what she wanted to do when she grew up so she tried everything! From working in a casino to driving a fork lift, managing fashion shoots and now Recruiting – she’s found passion and purpose in connecting with people above all else. She’ll try anything once and thinks you should too. In her free time, she loves cooking and hosting Sunday Dinner.