It's no secret the coronavirus crisis has had a devastating effect on the already struggling retail industry, and the future doesn't look promising. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, overall retail sales were down 483.1 billion, or 8.7 percent, from the previous month — the largest drop ever recorded — and 6.2 percent from March 2019, with clothing stores experiencing the biggest decline.
Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz of the National Retail Federation says the situation could worsen, and recovery will be a long and slow process for the retailers that survive. Some, such as big-name department stores like Lord + Taylor and Nordstrom, are expected to succumb to the virus.
This is a terrible time for the economy, indeed, but don't throw in the towel just yet. While it may seem like the worst time for former retail employees to look for a job, it's actually a great time to try a new career or take a temporary job. Many essential businesses need extra help and are eagerly hiring people with the skills retail workers possess. Getting back on the job market now will put you ahead of the many who will soon begin their own searches.
If you are one of the millions of retail workers who lost their job due to COVID-19, you have developed a skill set that you can easily translate to other industries. Here, we will show you how and where to apply those skills to get back to work fast.
Transferable skills, education and training to emphasize on your resume
Whether you were a cashier, merchandiser or manager, you have much-needed transferable skills, which are the soft, hard and technical skills employers look for across industries. Showcasing those skills on your resume will help you stand out in this challenging job market, even if you don't have direct experience in the job title you seek.
Here are some hard, technical and soft skills, education and relevant training or certifications you may have mastered in your retail career that you should consider adding to your next resume:
Hard and transferable skills: Hard skills including sales experience, accurate money handling, mathematical aptitude, understanding business operations, marketing, bookkeeping, shipping and receiving, administrative experience. Technical skills include proficiency with point-of-pale (POS) systems, computer programs and cash registers
Soft skills: Communication, customer service, teamwork, team building, negotiation, persuasion, multitasking, organizational skills, flexibility
Certifications and training: Certifications such as Retail Industry Fundamentals Specialist, Customer Service & Sales Certified Specialist, Certified Retail Merchandiser and Certified Retail Manager are standouts in this industry, and especially in this job market, so list any certifications you have in a separate section on your resume. Whether or not you are certified, extra training in areas like sales, management and loss prevention will catch hiring managers' eyes.
Education: Although employers generally require a high school diploma or equivalent for many retail positions, if you have an associate or bachelor's degree, adding it to your resume will help you shine, especially if you are in management. The number of retail workers with bachelor's degrees is increasing, and those with degrees tend to have a higher income than those with high school diplomas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you don't have a degree, list your high school education or GED under Education on your resume as well as any classes such as business administration or marketing that you might have under your belt.
These industries are hiring people with your skills
If you were a stocker or inventory control specialist, you might be qualified for these positions:
- Stocker (for example, at an essential retailer like PetCo)
- Warehouse associate (for example, at a large company like Honeywell)
- Package handler (for example, for a courier service like DHL)
- Driver (for example, for a freight company like Penske)
If you were a cashier, you might be qualified for these other positions:
- Cashier (for example, at an essential retailer like Dollar General)
- Delivery driver (for example, for a pizza restaurant like Papa John's)
- Bank teller (for example, at a bank like Wells Fargo)
- Sales associate (for example, at a grocery store like Whole Foods)
If you were a sales associate, you might be qualified for these other positions:
- Sales associate (for example, for an essential retailer like Ace Hardware)
- Delivery driver (for example, for a fast food chain like Burger King )
- Stocker (for example, for a drugstore like Southern Pharmacy)
If you were a merchandiser, stylist or buyer, you might be qualified for these other positions:
- Merchandiser (for example, for an essential retail store like Walmart)
- Sales associate (for example, for an essential retailer like Family Dollar)
- Stocker (for example, for a grocery store like Giant Eagle)
- Delivery driver (for example, for an essential service like Saucey)
- Warehouse associate (for example, for an online retailer like Chewy)
If you were an assistant manager or a manager, you might be qualified for these other positions:
- Warehouse supervisor (for example, for Menard's)
- Cashier (for example, at a drugstore like RiteAid)
- Bank teller (for example, at a bank like Capital One)
- Sales associate (for example, at a necessary retailer like Lowes)
How to apply for these roles and what you'll need
If you are applying in-person, you'll need a current email address and phone number; a resume and identification, such as a driver's license or passport.
If you are applying online, you'll need a current email address and phone number; a current resume; and a brief cover letter explaining what you'll bring to the table.
How to find these jobs in your community
How to create a resume that will capture employers' attention
COVID-19 may be turning the workforce upside down but it's not changing the hiring process completely. While some employers are relaxing the application process as they try to quickly fill roles, others are operating business as usual. A well-written resume is still the best way to show hiring managers why you are a great fit, no matter what job you're applying for.
The best resumes speak directly to the job requirements, so make sure you match your experience and skills to each job. Grab hiring managers' attention by highlighting your transferable skills and what you've achieved over the course of your career.
Another way to get noticed is by adding a strong cover letter. Even if a cover letter isn't required, writing one will help you stand out from the competition. A cover letter allows you to introduce yourself to the hiring manager and highlight your transferable skills. It also gives you the chance to explain why you are changing jobs or industries. If you aren't confident in your writing abilities, using a cover letter template can help you craft the perfect cover letter fast.
Below, we've provided a sample resume to help you as you update yours for a new position.
Text resume example: A stocker applying for a warehouse associate role
Name: Ivan Morrison
Address: San Jose, CA 95117
Phone: (555) 555-5555
Reliable Stocker offering 3+ years of experience working with shipping, receiving and inventory operations. Well-versed in inventory audits and product staging. Dedicated to accurate record-keeping, work site safety and timely issue resolution. Seeking a warehouse associate role.
- Stocking and replenishing
- Cleaning procedures
- Shelving of products
- Heavy lifting
- Exceptional time management skills
- Shipping and receiving
- Recordkeeping strengths
San Jose, CA
December 2018 to March 2020
- Regularly assessed sales floor stock levels to replenish with backstock merchandise before depletion.
- Changed sales floor signs to show current pricing and support product promotions.
- Kept all documentation and records accurate and up-to-date with latest data to prevent errors in processing or delivery.
San Jose, CA
September 2017 to November 2018
- Maintained well-organized restocking areas to avoid blocking aisles or creating safety hazards.
- Created balanced pallets to support efficient and safe sales floor replenishment.
- Recorded information, shortages and discrepancies to keep records current and accurate.
San Jose, CA
July 2016 to August 2017
- Counted cash in register drawer at beginning and end of shift.
- Operated cash register for cash, check and credit card transactions with 100% accuracy.
- Efficiently processed new orders, completing 50+ daily transactions with remarkable accuracy.
High School Diploma, June 2016
Independence High School – San Jose, CA
Warehouse Safety Course, 2017
OSHA Education Center