Janine Oda lost her temporary job at a luxury retailer in Los Angeles when the pandemic shuttered the economy.
Oda survived. The 36-year-old stocker picked up gigs on the grocery delivery app Shipt. When that work dried up, she went on unemployment, and her boyfriend, who remained employed, took on the rent payments they normally split 50-50.
She got a call from her former employer in early May, asking her to come back. She said yes, partly because they were willing to accommodate her side hustle as an actor.
"Both of my bosses are very flexible with me doing acting," she said. "They're very supportive even."
Today retailers are struggling to fill available openings, offering incentives such as higher pay and hiring bonuses to lure workers back.
While the industry faced immense obstacles during the pandemic, in-person retail positions still occupy 4.4 million jobs in the U.S. They are expected to continue growing for the next decade.
The demands of these roles require excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with an emphasis on customer service.
And best of all, the bar for entry, such as education level and skills, is relatively low, making these positions accessible to a wide range of applicants.
4 retail jobs women can get now
- Cashier. This position is the direct point of contact with customers and employees leave a long-lasting impression, which helps encourage repeat customers. The most common tasks for cashiers are to scan items, conduct price checks, and collect payments. This position requires employees to have great skills in customer service as they may handle customer complaints, assist in answering questions, and process refunds or exchanges. The role also requires money-handling experience, and you may also have to run inventory checks and restock shelves depending on the location.
- Retail sales associate. The responsibilities in this role vary based on the products you are selling and the level of experience you may have, but some of the main duties include customer services such as answering inquiries and complaints, providing assistance and product information, and suggesting items and opinions. More advanced responsibilities could include assisting the management team with sales promotions and performing inventory tracking and maintenance.
- Merchandiser. Focusing on the curation of products in line with the store's branding is the purpose of this role. They should be familiar with what customers need and want, which means staying up to date on the latest trends in their industry. Not only do they have to have basic marketing knowledge and inventory modeling skills, but some employees also create eye-catching displays that would attract new customers. Merchandisers need to know their company's branding by heart. Merchandisers should be able to create good relationships with vendors so that their stores may be chosen to carry matching products.
- Retail manager. This position requires great management skills as the store being run must ensure the highest customer satisfaction and staff performance. Retail sales managers develop sales strategies and marketing campaigns to boost revenues, increasing the company's profitability. They are also responsible for conducting training programs for the staff to help them provide the best customer service, with leadership and communication being key factors in the role.
How to write a retail resume
Now you're ready to write your resume. There are three different resume formats you'll want to consider:
Functional resume format: Best when you're new to the industry or have significant gaps in employment
A great functional resume will help you highlight qualities and skills that the employer is looking for that match your own, such as product knowledge, customer service and the ability to up-sell. These will set you apart even if you are reentering the workforce or are newly employable.
Here's an example of what a functional resume might look like:
Combination resume format: Perfect when you want to put equal emphasis on your skills and work experience
The combination resume is great for demonstrating your professionalism and attention to detail through both a great work history and transferable skill sets that meet an employer's needs.
Here's an example of what a combination resume might look like:
Chronological resume format: Great when you can show solid career progression and clear achievements
Chronological resumes will showcase the abilities you've used and developed through a long and relevant work history. Be sure to use statements that provide concise information to employers, like: "improved customer retention by 15% through a new hand-on approach."
Here's an example of what a chronological resume might look like:
How to explain employment gaps on a retail resume
Gaps on your resume are no longer the big hurdle they used to be, especially in retail. The overhaul of the retail industry has left many experienced workers seeking new roles, and as in-person sales become easier and safer once again, new possibilities are open.
While not everyone is comfortable returning to a fully in-person environment, those that are should think about how to re-frame their resume. Explaining the gaps in your work history is a helpful way for potential employers to see if you're a good fit. It doesn't necessarily have to be freelance or gig work that fills your time. Many things can contribute to your candidacy, including:
- Any volunteer work or experiences caring for others, as customer service is a major skill for these roles along with having an interpersonal nature.
- Running an online store on eBay or Etsy in which you sold goods and provided excellent customer service.
- If you are applying for a more advanced role, you might want to consider adding a certification in one of the following categories:
- Customer service
Find a retail job with a flexible schedule
The retail sector includes many different types of goods, so there's a variety of shifts available. Most employees, however, are required to work evenings and weekends, particularly during holidays and other peak sales periods whether you are seeking part-time or full-time employment.
That said, there's a high demand for retail workers at the moment, so you may have more leeway in picking your schedule. The best way to find retail positions in your area is to think about which sector of retail you are best suited for. If it's a chain retailer, apply on the company website directly. If you are applying for a more advanced position or a specific crew shift, try industry-specific websites like The National Retail Federation, All Retail Jobs.com, and Work in Retail.com.
Finding a job that works for you with a flexible schedule is essential. Building a resume that's tailored for jobs currently available is a big step in the right direction. If you enjoy helping people, problem-solving, moving products, and can deal with the stressors that sometimes come with aiding dissatisfied customers, then this industry could be right for you.