Entry Level Positions in Retail: What Employers Are Looking For

Photo of an entry-level retail employee.

You’re about to jump into the sometimes-exciting, often-challenging world of retail with both feet, and you’re ready for whatever surprises the future holds. But it’s never a bad idea to think about what your future employers might want from you, even though you haven’t met them yet. Regardless of the brand or product you’ll be selling, here are a few of the expectations you’ll probably face on the retail floor.


What Employers Expect from Entry Level Retail Staff


  1. Timeliness. Though “showing up” might sound like the easiest requirement in the world, you’d be surprised how many entry level retail employees struggle with this. If your shift begins at 12:00, you’ll need to be walking in the door at 11:55, every single day. The person in the shift just ahead of you will be leaving, and every minute that ticks by between their departure and your arrival means lost money for the company. Don’t be late, and if you have to be late for some reason, call, explain yourself, apologize, and never do it again. 

  2. Manners. A pleasant attitude doesn’t mean subservience; it just means taking a calm and courteous approach to everyone you encounter at work, including coworkers, customers, and strangers. No matter what frustrations you encounter during the day, don’t direct negative feelings toward any human person, smile as often as you can, and always think before you speak.

  3. Teamwork. If a coworker is being pulled in multiple directions, offer to pick up the slack. If your manager needs something done that falls outside of your job description, pitch in. Think about your own future, but also make an effort to think about the future of the company. Help your manager make money, and you’ll really be helping yourself. 

  4. A natural instinct for sales. If you love this product, or if you use it yourself, let your love show. Let customers know how you feel about the product in general, or this version/flavor/model over that one. Upsell a few last items at the register, promote a product line that’s about to be released, and do these things with honesty and charm. 

  5. A sense of humor. The retail world can be a place of surprising drudgery or surprising fun, depending on the people around you. When you’re surrounded by easygoing, likable teammates who enjoy life and know how to have a good time, work is awesome. When you’re surrounded by surly bad apples who would rather be somewhere else, work is a drag. The lesson: Be the first, not the second. 

  6. Product knowledge. No matter how timely and mannerly you are, you’ll still annoy customers if you can’t answer any of their questions. Keep your eyes and ears open and whenever you have an opportunity to learn something new about this product, take advantage of it. 

Hit The Ground Running: Land the Retail Position You Need

Now that you know what your managers are looking for, think about these things each day before you head into work. And if you’re still in job search mode, make sure retail is the place for you. Visit LiveCareer and take a few career tests to make sure your goals line up with the challenges of the retail field. And when you’re ready, rely on our resume writing, resume formatting, and final reviewing tools so you can land the job of your dreams. Make a great impression and you’ll be climbing the retail career ladder in no time.

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