Retail might not be the most glamorous career around—complete with aching feet and a perma-smile that hides your suspicion that the customer is not always right—but if you’ve ever been on those front lines, you know how essential your services are. We’re a society of consumers, and retail professionals are the ones who keep that cycle going. If you’re an experienced retail sales associate or someone just starting out, we’ve got you covered. We at TheJobNetwork have put together a guide on creating the perfect retail resume. Let’s look at three different retail professionals:
one entry level, one seeking seasonal retail employment, and an experienced sales associate looking to become a manager.
First up: Bella, who’s seeking her first job in the retail world.
Bella opts for a functional, or skills-based resume, because she doesn’t have a lot of retail-specific experience to showcase (yet). So she puts her best qualities and her skills up front, to underline her summary statement: that she’s looking to take the skills and work ethic she already has and turn that into a retail job/career. She also presents herself as a recent grad, which can let the reader know up front that she probably doesn’t have years and years of experience behind her. Bella prioritizes her strongest skills (her responsibility/dependability, her ability to work with the public, and her familiarity with handling transactions), then her awards/certifications (which emphasize her reliability and her professional successes), then her experience, and finally, her education.
Bella’s experience is mostly in food service, and includes part-time jobs. She includes the part-time jobs because those helped develop skills she listed above, like customer service and an outgoing personality. Bella’s high school experience is important to note, because she has completed her diploma, but unless her school experience is directly relevant to the job she’s applying for (in this case it’s not), she wisely just lists the school and the diploma.
Let’s look at Marty, who has more experience, but is seeking a seasonal retail position (back-to-school, holiday season, etc.) rather than a full-time gig.
Marty puts his cards on the table up front: he’s a student, he has retail experience, and he’s not looking to put a ring on it—he just wants to find a gig for the upcoming holiday season. He opens with a detailed summary, with a brief statement and then a handful of bullets outlining his deal. An important point in his bullets: that he’s available to work a variety of shifts, which is key for a store looking to hire someone to come in and get their hands dirty even when others are at home eating leftover turkey.
Next, he lists his experience, to show that he’s a pro at the seasonal holiday game. He may have other jobs along the way, but he’s not looking for a career here—he focuses on the seasonal retail experience he already has, so that the reader doesn’t have to cut through a bunch of information that isn’t necessarily relevant to the immediate goal of hiring for a brief period.
Our final retail resume-writer is Erica, who’s got a lot of retail associate experience behind her, but wants to jump up a level in the store management food chain.
Erica’s resume shows an accomplished retail professional. But what she needs, if she wants to apply for higher-level jobs and not associate-level jobs, is to show that she has demonstrated leadership. Thus, the first skill she lists is rallying team members (check) to increase sales (check-plus) in her experience. The remainder of her skill bullets are used to show the breadth of her retail experience. This format, the skills-based resume, is helpful for someone like Erica, who wants to emphasize that she has what it takes to step into a bigger role, not just the kind of job she’s already had. Even though she’s not changing career paths, she’s trying to change up her career within that path, and this format can be useful when you want to show what you can be, in addition to what you’ve already done.
Erica also provides as much detail as possible, without crowding her resume. The overall sales of her current store, with some concrete stats on how she’s helped increase sales, are very impressive, and don’t take up much space in the resume. Erica is letting results do the talking for her. An interview is a great chance to provide more context than resume bullets allow, but whenever you have specific numbers and information you can include, that will likely catch the attention of the reader and help get you into the next round. Erica also goes out of her way to include various awards, which show she’s been a superstar at her current job. Overall, the picture here is of someone who has been successful, and has the drive to keep going and improving sales.
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