How to Get Part Time Work in Retail

Photo of a part-time help wanted sign.

You're looking for a way to turn your time off into cold cash by taking on a temporary job at a retail outlet. And you're ready and willing to step in and roll up your sleeves. At least for a few weeks – after that, you plan to go back to your regular routine.

In an alternative scenario, you've got some free time that you'd like to spend working in retail, but your schedule isn't quite flexible enough to accommodate a full-time job or a daily eight-hour shift. You may have a new baby at home, you may be searching for a full-time job in your field and trying to make ends meet until you land one, or you may simply want a position that you can handle during the evenings and weekends.

Whatever your reason, you'll need to impress potential employers while being clear and upfront about your needs and expectations. Keep these considerations in mind:

  1. Before you even begin the job search process, think carefully about when you'd like to work. Few things are more annoying to retail managers than potential employees who can't be clear about this. When a manager asks "When are you available?" you'll want to sound like a flexible team player while protecting your Wednesdays and Saturday mornings…and these are conflicting desires. But you'll need to overcome this obstacle and provide an upfront answer. 

  2. For part-time retail positions, first impressions aren't just important — they're everything. Hiring managers need to make fast decisions in order to handle the holiday or summer workload, and if you look smart, professional, reliable and likeable, you're already halfway home. If your words and speech back up these assumptions, you're in. On the other hand, if you ask for a job in an uncertain voice while avoiding eye contact, managers won't be tempted to look much closer. 

  3. Follow up. Going to the store to submit an application is the first step, but don't just drop off your paperwork and disappear – call the next day. If you don't reach the manager during your call, go to the store and follow up in person. 

  4. Know your product. Retail skills are often transferable from one product to another; for example, if you can run a register or manage a stockroom for a store that sells women's apparel, you can easily transfer those skills to men's clothing, electronics or housewares. But some skills aren't transferable at all, like comparing high definition TVs. Learn as much as you can about the product your employer sells. Even better, target employers who sell things you already know about and love. 

  5. Respect the business, the brand and the manager's job. You may be here to occupy your Thursday afternoons and make some extra cash, but your employers are here to run a business. They'll be more likely to hire you if you understand that mission and are willing to do what it takes to support company success. That means showing up, but it also means showing a genuine interest in camping supplies, jeans or toasters, respecting the company's customers, and demonstrating personal concern with raising sales. 

Act Now, Act Quickly & Follow Through

Landing a part-time job in retail doesn't require weeks of advance preparation. It just takes a resume, some patience and a little initiative. Visit LiveCareer and use the resume building tools and job search tips on the site to lay the groundwork for a promising search. Then hit the pavement and find the job you need.

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