Why Retail Jobs Should Be On Your Resume

Most of us have had that one job that we aren’t quite sure how to put on a resume. For me it was Gymboree – a company that actually no longer exists, so talk about feeling old. I worked as a seasonal Sales Associate at the children’s clothing store for a little over 4 years. While it wasn’t always fun, for the most part, I loved my job. The store was small, the customers were usually cute toddlers who didn’t care too much about what they wore (though the parents definitely did). I know that not everyone enjoys a retail job like I did, but, we can all agree that the essential duties are usually all the same – working the cash register, greeting people, keeping the store organized.

So if we can all agree on the essential duties of a retail job, why are bullet points needed to describe it on a resume? Marketable skills.

Marketable skills are the skills that make college graduates career ready. Career readiness is defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers as the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace.

To put it into simpler terms, it’s having the skills that can transfer from one position to the next, regardless of the tasks that you do, and that demonstrate a level of competence.

So back to having a retail job – even though everyone knows the basic tasks of working in retail, my experience working in a children’s clothing store was probably very different from someone who worked in a department store, or a sports store.

For example – the types of customers I dealt with at a children’s store were generally parents and grandparents. They had questions regarding appropriate school attire and sizes for babies and toddlers. At a sporting store, I imagine that you would have to have knowledge of various sports and equipment. At a department store you might have to know what items are in each specific section. So right off the bat we can see that different knowledge is required depending on the type of retail job.

However, it’s not just the knowledge. It’s the size of the store, the number of customers coming in every day, the multitasking skills needed to maintain the store organized, while simultaneously welcoming customers, and making sure the cash register is covered. It’s the conflict resolution needed to deal with difficult customers trying to return items that were clearly worn or past the 30 day mark. It’s the patience and customer service skills needed to allow the 100th customer of the day to be right even when you know they are not. It’s working through high traffic times like Christmas Eve and Black Friday.

Don’t make the mistake of simply listing your job duties. You might not be operating a cash register, or greeting people as they come into a store ever again, but the skills it took for you to do those things successfully – patience, responsibility, customer service, time management, and conflict resolution  – all of these are marketable skills that you will need in almost any job that you ever hold. They are skills I still use today, and will continue to use through out my career. So don’t sell yourself short! You’ve gained skills, showcase them!

By Vianet Garza
Vianet Garza Career Consultant, Denton Campus