Retail and customer service positions are some of the most physically and mentally demanding jobs. Whether it’s the varying schedule, fast-paced environment, or the constantly changing roles, the demands in retail can make standing out very difficult. Since most retail associate jobs are entry-level, there is a lot of competition. Writing a retail resume that stands out among the competition doesn’t require any special skills or retail experience, just a little focus and dedication. In this article, we’ll go over the different aspects of retail and sales, and cover some good skills to put on a sales associate resume for retail.
Depending upon the position you apply for, the hiring manager will be looking for certain cues that tell them how you might do in the role. The position you target will change how you write your resume- some of the most popular retail positions are listed below.
Management: Obviously these positions are the hardest to get hired for, requiring several years of experience in retail jobs or other forms of management. Store managers must be able to handle lots of problems at once, and have extremely keen attention to detail. Retail management skills for a resume might include customer service skills, leadership skills, and knowledge of POS systems and logistics.
General managers bear responsibility for sales targets and overall customer satisfaction. While this isn’t a sales job, you’re in a role where you’re operating as the senior sales manager. A strong track record in a sales position and operations management within the retail industry helps.
If you want to become store manager, remember that you’re asking to join at a level where supporting the vision of the organization matters. Make sure your resume summary and objective statement speaks to broad leadership roles and P&L responsibility. The hiring manager will want to see that for senior roles.
Cashier/customer service desk: These positions are best performed by people who are willing to start conversations with total strangers. The best candidates for this role are frequently smiling, even when handling difficult situations or problem solving. Make an impact in your interview by asking questions, smiling, and showing natural charisma. People who typically succeed in these roles work strictly by the rules. List those relevant traits in the skills section.
Freight/inventory associate: Candidates for these positions rarely work with customers, but being friendly to customers and associates is still required. This position also requires a lot of lifting, climbing, stacking, and possibly working outdoors. Interviewers are looking for people who show urgency and a strong work ethic. Performing the job will be easier if you have a history in working freight, are physically fit or strong, and have a lot of energy. These employees have two safe speeds; fast and faster.
Sales floor/phone based service representatives: A sales representative needs to be flexible and learn new things quickly. These positions are the first ones to be sent home from the sales floor when business is slow, so the best and most effective employees get the hours. Impressing the interviewers happens when you speak in a strong, confident tone that people can trust. You can succeed in a sales associate position if you are willing to ask for a sale.
A good retail sales associate resume should feature numbers if you have them; show that you can move product and hit sales goals. Prior sales experience in a retail environment and a positive attitude helps as well.
Utility positions/general labor: If you aren’t confident you fit into any of the other job descriptions, focus on this one. People who best fit this role have less work experience but a lot of desire and drive to work and succeed. The ways to stand out in your interview are to have very open availability to work and being willing to be flexible in the type of work. People who succeed in these roles are always ready to do what it takes the moment they walk in the door.
Once you target your position, potentially write a cover letter, and list those retail skills for your retail sales associate resume, hopefully you will be called for an interview. Most of the typical resume objective advice applies to interviews – prepare by focusing on these four things.
First, research the company and their competition. Find out if the company is considered the top in the industry or what their current rank is. Learn about what the company sells and how they sell it; whether it’s just in stores or also online.
Second, rehearse a few stories that demonstrate your work ethic and experience. Resist making up stories or changing existing ones to make yourself look better. Stick to what really happened and avoid excluding stories where you made a mistake but learned a valuable lesson. That lesson you learned could land you the job. In addition, the stories help you demonstrate communication skills and show you understand the job expectations.
Next, dress nicely, shower, and be at least 10 minutes early. This shows that you take your work seriously and can be professional.
Finally, be your professional self. The goal is to make sure they get to know you a little. As a bonus, if you really want to impress them, have a question ready if they ask if you have questions. “What is a day in the life of a ‘insert position title’ like?” is an excellent question.
Impress Your Boss
The most ignored part of impressing your boss is one of the easiest things to do in just about any job; become obsessed with mastering the basics. Establish yourself as a go-to person for several processes, and show that you are willing to learn. Unfortunately, some of these expert “doers” can end up getting overworked. Avoid that by always trying to learn new things. If you are willing to take on some additional responsibility, start teaching others how to do things you will earn the trust and respect of your boss as well as the team you train.
Your boss’ opinion of you is equally as important as their boss’ opinion of you. In a retail environment, you will often work with several levels of management. One thing that impresses the most managers is that you don’t reinvent company processes. You just follow the rules, do things the way the company wants, and only make suggestions once you have mastered the basics. Managers are usually not interested in hearing your “improvements” to a process that they can’t change. However, they are interested in hearing how you helped a customer buy a high-ticket item or taught another associate how to do something. You are showing them that you are more valuable than others.
Step Up and Get Promoted
Many people are motivated to get promoted by the increase in salary or the ability to tell others what to do. Instead, we recommend you focus on wanting a promotion to positively influence more people and make some much needed improvements through applying the basics you mastered as you were trying to get noticed. By changing your focus to helping the company and other employees, your attitude towards the demands of your new position will be one of tackling them as a team.
Be ready to step up and learn new things. This is especially true for activities which help the store sell more product. Sales training and sales floor experience is always useful. Logistics and employee staffing is another critical function, particularly in a large chain store that moves a high volume of merchandise. Visual merchandising may not be your preferred career focus, but if someone ask for help, step up and do your best. These experiences will round out your retail sales associate resume for higher level roles. This is also another example of showing a positive attitude, which a potential employer loves to see.
When you decide it’s time to step outside your comfort zone, ask your direct manager about cross-training in other departments or if there are some other opportunities in your current store. This shows an interest in learning more while showing loyalty to your team. If things go south, avoid applying at another location without first speaking with your current manager. If all else fails, just be consistent, maintain a positive and helpful attitude and you will establish a great reputation.
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