Retail

10 Summer Retail Jobs—and How to Get Them

retail-summer-jobs
Written by Kate Lopaze

When you think “summer job,” you don’t necessarily think “career path,” or “40 hours a week in a cubicle.” You probably think of something where you’re working with people, maybe at oddball hours, building experience and making bank before moving on to something else at the end of the season (school, a new job, etc.). Seasonal jobs can be great because they don’t have to be your forever job, but are a useful stop along your path. Whether you’re looking for a flexible second job or a summer job in between semesters, here are the retail jobs you might want to consider.

Cashier

This is kind of the classic entry-level retail job. Cashiers are responsible for checking customers out, handling different forms of payment, and using the store’s point-of-sale (POS) system. They may also be responsible for maintaining the checkout area, handling returns or other customer issues,

The pay: An average of $9.18 per hour, per PayScale.

What you’ll need: People skills, good math skills, and general trustworthiness, since you’ll be handling money on the store’s behalf.

Stock Clerk

Stock clerks, who are most often found in big box department stores or grocery stores with high traffic and turnover, keep shelves full. Throughout the day, merchandise can get depleted or scattered, so these clerks are responsible for keeping shelves looking orderly, and tracking inventory. Clerks typically move between the store floor and the warehouse/storage areas throughout their shifts.

The pay: An average of $11.14 per hour, per PayScale.

What you’ll need: Clerical skills (for managing inventory and keeping records), customer service skills, attention to detail.

Overnight Stock Clerk

This is a variation on other types of stock clerk positions, except these nocturnal professionals get their work done after the store is closed. Overnight stock clerks are responsible for inventory management, and getting the store ready for business the next day.

The pay: An average of $11.14 per hour, per PayScale.

What you’ll need: Clerical skills (for managing inventory and keeping records), customer service skills, attention to detail.

Merchandiser

If you see displays as you walk into a store (or strategically placed along the way to convince you to buy cookies while you’re on your way to pick up milk and eggs), that’s usually the work of a merchandiser. Merchandisers are responsible for setting up product displays to maximize attention to specific products or sales. They work with an eye toward placement, design, and inventory.

The pay: An average of $12.04 per hour, per PayScale.

What you’ll need: Attention to detail, design skills, strong organizational skills.

Store Security

Whether during business hours or after the store is closed, just about every store needs security officers keeping a sharp eye on things. Security officers may be responsible for loss prevention (shoplifting by employees or customers), general store security, and safety procedures.

The pay: An average of $11.65 per hour, per PayScale.

What you’ll need: Attention to detail, possibly a background check.

Retail Associate

Retail associates are usually at the front lines in every store. Answering customer questions, making sure the store shelves are well-stocked, handling transactions or returns, and generally being an ambassador for the store are all parts of a retail sales associate’s job.

The pay: An average of $11.65 per hour, per PayScale.

What you’ll need: Customer service skills, attention to detail, organizational skills, math skills, and problem solving skills.

Retail Store Manager

If you have previous retail experience, there may be opportunities for seasonal store managers as well, particularly in stores or industries where summer is a busy time. Managers may be responsible for managing staff, payroll, store policies, opening and closing, customer queries (and intervening when necessary), and basically keeping the ship moving smoothly.

The pay: An average of $14.65 per hour, per PayScale.

What you’ll need: Customer service skills, leadership skills, attention to detail, organizational skills, math skills, and problem solving skills.

Customer Service Associate

Customer service can be one of the most challenging jobs in retail, but if you have the people skills to turn an irate shopper into a happy customer for life, then this is the retail niche for you. Customer service associates are usually faced with problems—product returns, customer questions, customer complaints, etc., so troubleshooting is their game. Ideally, they help customers resolve whatever issues come up, while providing a good customer experience.

The pay: An average of $10.63 per hour, per PayScale.

What you’ll need: Customer service skills, patience, problem solving skills, attention to detail.

Baker

If straight-up retail isn’t your thing, there are also ways to combine food service and retail for your summer job. Many grocery stores and department stores have in-store bakeries. These bakery associates typically help prepare baked goods and displays for the day ahead, so if you’re an early bird, this may be a great retail option for you.

The pay: An average of $11.38 per hour, per PayScale.

What you’ll need: Customer service skills, baking/cooking skills, punctuality, possibly food handling certification.

Omnichannel Associate

This is a new front in retail, as many companies start offering a multi-format approach to selling their products online and in brick-and-mortar stores. (Think Amazon, or department stores that let you ship from their warehouse directly to your local store for in-store pickup.) Omnichannel retail employees are retail sales associates that often work on the fulfillment side of things, preparing orders to be shipped or delivered. They help create a seamless process for customers who want to move from online shopping to in-person shopping.

The pay: An average of $11.38 per hour, per PayScale.

What you’ll need: Customer service skills, attention to detail, organizational skills, math skills, and problem solving skills.

How to Snag Your Summer Retail Job

Once you’ve figured out what type of retail job would be a good fit for you and your skills, what next? Here are five tips to help get you hired in time for summer.

Time it right.

Retail stores typically hire year-round, so when should you apply if you’re looking for that summer sweet spot? Right before summer is your best bet—store employee turnover can be high, and stores may not be able to plan staffing too far ahead of time.

Find summer-friendly stores.

Your best chances to snag a summer job will come at stores that are busy during the summer (sorry, Christmas ‘R Us). Home improvement stores or gardening centers are good bets for the summer, since people are outdoors and active. Ditto sporting goods stores, or office supply stores gearing up for back to school sales. Big box stores like Best Buy, Costco, Target, WalMart, etc. are usually perennially hiring, so keep an eye on those evergreen stores as well.

Be ready to go.

When you start scoping out places that might be hiring, have your resume ready to roll. Again, high turnover means you might have to jump on any opportunities right away. If you hear about an opening and spend three days spiffing up your application, it may be too late!

Be proactive.

Don’t wait for opportunities to come up. If you’re targeting a particular store, don’t wait for someone to put a “we’re hiring” sign in the window. Keep an eye on their website, or do it the old-fashioned way—stop in and ask! But remember #3: if you go into a store to inquire about potential jobs, make sure you’ve got your resume in hand.

Use your network.

You never know who might know of retail places that are hiring soon, so make sure to let people know you’re on the hunt. Your neighbor, your teacher, your old football coach—any of them could have good leads, so definitely mention that you’re looking for a new job. Plus, they know you, and may be able to vouch for you.

A summer retail job doesn’t have to be a forever career (unless, of course, you find you have a passion for customer service, or a level of zen in creating floor displays), but it can be an excellent way to pay the bills and build experience before you get to your next step. There are a lot of opportunities out there, so you can find jobs that work best for you and your needs (part-time vs. full-time), your skills, and your experience level. Plus, you’ll be in air conditioning all summer. Not a bad deal!

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