How to Write a Retail Resume
Your resume is your first chance to make the right impression on a potential employer.
In this article, we’ll look at how to make yourself stand out from the crowd with a retail resume that hits the mark.
The world of retail is varied, and as such, there is a broad range of jobs available.
Some of these take place behind the scenes, like customer support, stock control and buying.
Others take place on the shop floor, like manning the tills, merchandising and face-to-face customer service.
Despite the variation, there are common traits employers will look for in every retail resume they receive.
In retail, the customer is the primary focus, since without them there is no business to be had. Successful organizations realize this and expect employees to do the same.
In a retail resume, hiring managers look for evidence that you are committed to providing an exceptional customer experience and that you understand their needs come before anything else.
A customer-oriented attitude is required for all roles in retail.
For example, a merchandiser needs to understand the buyer journey, placing themselves in the shoes of the target market to create effective displays.
A customer support operative, on the other hand, needs to show empathy when resolving complaints.
Retail employers will be on the lookout for candidates who show a range of effective communication skills.
This extends beyond the ability to use both written and spoken English in a clear way. You’ll need to demonstrate a communication style that’s confident, friendly and professional.
Try also to show an understanding of business tone of voice and how you, as a company representative, are responsible for upholding this.
Aligning with a customer-oriented attitude, employers also look for those who listen and use emotional intelligence to adapt their communication to suit the circumstances in question.
Retail is fast-paced and evolving, and those working in this sector are often required to pick up new skills or knowledge quickly.
This could be learning to operate a new system or getting to grips with new products. It could be taking on more responsibilities or crossing over to a new area of work.
In your retail resume, show that you are eager to take on new challenges, and have done so successfully in your previous roles.
Employers don’t just look at past experience. They also consider future potential.
To show you’re a candidate who has the ability to grow, try to showcase how you have already evolved in a professional context.
A retail resume that outlines clear movement up the career ladder presents an applicant who is willing to work hard and take on increased responsibility.
If you don’t yet have this demonstrable experience, you could consider detailing, in brief, how you’ve set and achieved short-term career goals to improve your knowledge, skills and abilities.
A career in retail is not your average Monday to Friday, nine to five. It can often involve working unsociable hours, like evenings and weekends, as well as overtime when needed.
A level of flexibility is required on the employee’s behalf.
Show that you are willing to adapt to meet the needs of the business and are happy to go the extra mile when circumstances demand it.
When deciding which key skills and competencies to highlight in your retail resume, it’s important to first study the job description closely.
This should give you a clear indication of exactly what the employer is looking for, specific to the role.
Typically though, you should look to include technical, retail-specific and personal skills.
Depending on the role in question, it’s likely employers will be looking for a level of technical competence.
As well as general computer skills, you may need to show experience with:
- Till systems and card payment technologies
- Retail Point of Sale (POS) systems
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
Where possible, reference specific systems that you have existing knowledge of.
Key skills for a job in retail include soft skills like numeracy, communication, teamwork, negotiation and problem-solving.
They also include more specific capabilities, such as:
- Business knowledge – The ability to understand a business’s purpose, objectives and value proposition, and to carry this through to your daily activities
- Product knowledge – The ability to digest and memorize product information, and to communicate this clearly to the customer
- Visual merchandising – This requires imagination, creative flair and an understanding of fundamental principles in merchandising
- Stock control – Including things like quality checks, stock rotation, inventory and ordering
- Customer service – Your retail resume should, of course, demonstrate your customer service experience and the skills you hold in this area.
Regardless of the role on offer, you should look to include evidence of personal skills, such as:
- Strong work ethic
- Time management
- Organizational skills
- Resilience under pressure
- Willingness to learn
If you have limited work history, don’t see it as a deal-breaker as there are ways to write a great resume with no experience.
Start with a resume objective – a short statement that outlines your motivations and skill set, and how they are relevant to the role.
You can then focus on creating an achievement-based resume, highlighting personal accomplishments that demonstrate the capabilities required for a job in retail.
For example, you may have certain achievements in your academic career or through extracurricular activities that show relevant skills like time management, commercial awareness and effective communication.
Provided you can show your understanding of how these skills are valuable, and that you’re willing and eager to learn, there’s no reason why an employer would not consider you as a promising candidate.
If you want to bolster your resume with some experience, consider a volunteering position.
You can also mention any applicable hobbies or personal interests.
For example, if you’re applying for a position with a homewares retailer and you have a keen interest in interior design, this will add weight to your application.
For every application you make, you should tailor your resume accordingly to suit the needs of the role and the employer.
With that in mind, the first step in writing a retail resume is to carefully study the job description.
Scan this for keywords and phrases, making note of these to include wherever appropriate in your resume content.
Many employers use applicant tracking systems as part of the screening process, so using the right terminology is key to getting your resume in front of the eyes of the hiring team.
Once you know what the employer is looking for, you can begin to craft your resume, paying close attention to layout, structure and content.
Generally speaking, you should write your retail resume in reverse chronological order. This means starting with your most recent experience and working backward.
That said, if you’re writing a resume with no experience, you’d be better adopting a functional format.
This focuses on skills, rather than experience, making these the headline act of your resume content.
In both cases, keep your resume to a maximum of two pages and make use of appropriate spacing to separate each section.
Also ensure you choose a clear, easy-to-read resume font.
These should be clearly detailed at the top of your resume.
- Your name
- Residential address
- Telephone number
There is no need to include any additional detail here, though you may choose to link to your social media profiles if you consider them to add supporting evidence of your suitability for the role.
Your resume objective should capture the reader's attention with a well-thought-out statement that succinctly introduces who you are, what you’re looking for in a career and why you’re suitable for the role in question.
This introductory section should be no longer than a single paragraph, like the example below:
Customer-focused professional seeking advancement opportunities in retail management. Experienced in leading teams to deliver first-rate standards of service and creating profitable consumer experiences.
The next section of your retail resume should give an overview of your past work experience, starting with your most recent position and working backward.
For each post held, list your job title, employer and period of employment.
Below this, bullet point your key responsibilities and any pertinent achievements.
Team Leader – Audio and Visual, Empire Electronics: 2019 – Present
- Effectively managing a team of 10 to deliver a consistent customer experience
- Conducting all product and service training
- Monitoring individual and team sales targets
- First point of contact for customer complaints
Led the team in exceeding sales targets by a minimum of 38% in every quarter of 2020
In cases where your work history isn't directly related to retail, look for transferable skills that could be highlighted, such as teamwork, time management and communication.
Next, move on to your academic and/or vocational achievements, listing the qualifications gained, awarding institution and dates of study.
This doesn’t have to be restricted to high school or college education. You can also include any relevant certifications you may have picked up, either while as a student or as part of previous employment; for example, first aid qualifications.
Use this final section to add a little personality to your retail resume, though keep it short.
Employers want a general overview of who you are, not a detailed history of your personal life.
Try and stick to interests that are relevant to the role and avoid generic statements like: 'I enjoy socializing with friends'.
Most people do and telling a prospective employer this is unlikely to make you stand out.
Instead, you could mention a keen interest in fashion if applying to work in this area of retail, or that you’re an avid amateur photographer if the role you are applying for is in this field.
It’s a competitive world out there, and employers often receive high numbers of applications for a single vacancy.
To ensure you progress to the interview stage, you need a retail resume that sets you apart from countless other candidates, who may well have similar backgrounds and experience.
Your retail resume should not be static. It should be a working document that is altered and updated with each new application.
These alterations include tailoring your experience to meet the nature of the hiring organization.
Do your research and find out all you can about them – not just what they do, but their ethos, core values and corporate culture.
Alongside skills and experience, employers look for the right personality fit, so if you can show you’d be a good fit for the business, you’ll be one step closer to landing the role.
As we’ve mentioned, many employers use applicant tracking systems to screen resumes before they’re looked at by the hiring team.
These systems work by identifying keywords and phrases within resume content, so make sure you use the correct terminology.
This can usually be found in the job description and person specification. Use these as a kind of resume thesaurus to match your skills to the expectations of the employer.
It can be tempting to tell the odd white lie on a resume, but this should be avoided at all costs.
Openness and honesty are the best way forward, as anything but is likely to catch up with you at some point in the hiring process.
You want a professional, polished finish to your retail resume, and that means it needs to be free of any errors.
Proofread it carefully to check for errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and formatting. It’s also wise to get a second pair of eyes to check over it for you.
Wherever possible, back up your claims with evidential proof. Use metrics and real-world examples to show your skills in action.
For example, if you have sales experience, use target data and statistics to prove your achievements.
If you have a history of outstanding customer service, reference any feedback you may have received.
It can often be advantageous to let the employer know that you’re willing and able to adapt when it comes to your working hours.
Busy times of the year like Christmas and seasonal sales require all hands on deck, and if you’ve shown your flexibility, employers will look at you more favorably.
Most job openings require the submission of a resume and an accompanying cover letter. These two documents need to work side by side in support of one another.
Make sure they match up in style and tone, and that the experience and achievements listed on your resume are expanded on within your cover letter.
Again, this document should be tailored for each opening.
A retail resume is a professional document and should be treated with care and attention to detail.
It is your first chance to make a good impression and secure yourself an interview, so take your time and make sure you get it right.
The most important thing to remember is to match your skills and experience to the specific expectations of the employer, as detailed in the job description.
If you do this well, you’ll be well on your way to meeting the hiring team face to face, and letting your suitability for the role shine through in person.