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How to Build your Resume for an Retail Career
Looking to ascend the career ladder? Use our professional resume examples and tips for these retail career paths.
Career Track: Store Management
Store management covers daily operations such as buying, organizing inventory and merchandising, and providing optimum sales and customer service. In 2017, the U.S. retail industry generated $1.14 trillion, or about 5.9% of the U.S. GDP, while creating 4.8 million jobs, many of which are entry-level positions.
Assistant Store Manager $46,892 Median salary
Resume Format: Functional
The functional format effectively highlights your best skills, such as “customer service skills,” “verbal and written communication,” “responsible” and “detail-oriented.” If you lack work experience, mention extracurricular or volunteer projects that tie in with retail work such as “assisted customers with shopping” and “reviews 40+ products a month on personally-branded YouTube channel.”
Summary: Give a brief overview of your best skills and relevant work experience or projects you have been a part of, with emphasis on key phrases such as “attention to detail,” “customer service orientation,” and “strong communication skills.” Look to mention responsibilities you have handled that will transfer to a store manager position, such as “Manager experienced with managing inventory counts and incident reports.”
Skills to feature: Browse through the job description, make note of key skills mentioned, and include those that align with your strengths in your resume. Examples of such skills would include “meticulousness,” “organizational skills,” “skilled at handling money,” “advertising and marketing,” “inventory management,” “recruiting” and “sales forecasting.”
Go to the next level: To climb up the career ladder, consider gaining experience in the following:
- Training and/or degrees in Business and Management
- Contributing to improved store sales success
- More responsibility for cross-merchandising products, leading to increased sales margins
Store Manager $61,224 Median Salary
Resume Format: Combination
Use a combination resume for this role, as it highlights your skills and work history in a balanced manner. Top skills commonly used for this position include “business development,” “lead conversion” and “budgeting.” Expand on your work accomplishments using facts and figures, such as “cutting the inventory costs by 25% through annual trend analysis” or “exceeded annual sales forecast by $200,000 in first year as store manager.”
Summary: In a few brief sentences, present the best aspects of your work history and skills that define you as a worthy job candidate. For example: “Hard-working store manager experienced in implementing inventory processes that have improved sales revenue by 10%,” or “Productive retail and online store manager well-versed in sales coaching and networking with major clients to reach sales goals.”
Skills to feature: Identify a mix of technical skills (e.g., inventory management, product and market knowledge and CRM software) and soft skills (e.g., multitasking, training and mentoring, strategic planning and superior teamwork).
Go to the next level: When preparing for career advancement, focus on the following:
- More opportunities to successfully train and mentor employees
- Projects or initiatives where you demonstrate creativity and leadership, resulting in sales success
- Refining your abilities in customer service, as well as product and business management, along with any associated training or certifications (such as a Management Essentials course)
District Manager $65,398 Median Salary
Resume Format: Chronological
Using a chronological format for this position highlights work history, which is essential for a role that requires experience. Make sure you make your case with strong examples of accomplishments in previous roles, such as “managed sales team to increase efficiency in sales practices, resulting in 20% increase in sales,” or “opened eight new stores in first 18 months, and hired and trained over 40 managers.”
Summary: Use positive, energetic adjectives like “talented” or “results-driven,” pairing them with a top example or two of your experience and skills that relate to the job. For example: “Hard-working district manager recognized for managing 35 stores in the northeast region, exceeding sales targets by 15%.”
Skills to feature: Review the job description and identify key skills that align with your strengths. Mix in both soft and technical skills in your resume, including specific product knowledge, proficiency with retail inventory software, leadership skills, expertise in sales and customer service, superior organization skills and time management skills.
Go to the next level: To advance in this career field, focus on the following:
- Continue increasing revenue and streamlining store operations
- Developing successful integrated marketing programs
- Continuing to manage and coach personnel to achieve company objectives
Career Track: Retail Sales
Retail sales workers deal directly with customers, locating products and processing payments. Their tasks can also include merchandise management, and keeping customers informed customers about sales, promotions, and return and exchange policies. As these positions often receive on-the-job training, they’re a good option for those who want to get a running start on a retail career.
Cashier $27,973 Median Salary
Resume Format: Functional
As this is an entry-level position, use a functional resume, which highlights your best skills and qualifications rather than your lack of job history. Abilities such as “cash handling,” “basic mathematics,” “time management” and “weighing and scanning items” are important, as well as interpersonal skills such as “friendly, professional demeanor” and “ability to handle stressful situations.” Also mention any volunteer or extracurricular activities you’ve had that demonstrate good customer service and reliability (e.g., serving as a volunteer treasurer for a nonprofit event).
Summary: Give a brief overview of your key skills and relevant work experiences. For example, “Enthusiastic cashier skilled at keeping accurate records, helping customers with product choices and maintaining font lane organization.”
Skills to feature: List skills you have that relate to cashier work, such as “customer service.” You should also browse through cashier job descriptions, identifying hard and soft skills recruiters are looking for, such as “critical thinking,” “accuracy and attention to detail” and “handling POS systems.”
Go to the next level: To keep advancing from the cashier position, consider getting expertise in the following areas, and add them to your resume:
- Special certifications, such as Cashier Alcohol Serving Certification.
- A continuous record of reliable, efficient service.
- Implementing new customer service processes and strategies successfully (e.g., helping to implement payment systems that increase customer satisfaction).
Retail Sales Associate $35,572 Median Salary
Resume Format: Combination
Use a combination resume for this role, as it showcases both your skills and related work achievements equally. Highlight needed skills such as “excellent customer service,” “POS and cash handling,” “up-selling” and “conflict resolution.” Also mention work accomplishments such as “awarded employee of the month on five separate occasions for exceeding sales quotas,” or “consistently surpassed sales checkout time requirements by 5% for past 18 months.”
Summary: Encapsulate your retail experience, achievements and professional abilities in a few sentences, using numbers for additional impact. For example: “Dedicated retail associate with excellent customer service, communication, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. Experienced in handling 100+ loyalty card sign-ups per month while working in electronics department.”
Skills to feature: Key skills recruiters are seeking for this position includes:
- Conflict resolution
- Proficiency with POS and cash-handling systems
- Inventory and stock management
- Handling returns
- Requisitions and chargebacks
- Planogram setup and teardown
- Visual merchandising
Go to the next level: To climb up the career ladder, look to gain experience in the following:
- Additional retail-related certifications such as the Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP) program, or training as a Certified Sales Leadership Professional.
- Gain memberships in trade associations such as National Retail Federation.
- Consistently achieve and maintain high customer feedback scores.
Retail Supervisor$45,027 Median Salary
Resume Format: Chronological
The chronological format is a good fit for this role, as it focuses on previous work experiences that qualify you for the position. Stress your biggest achievements and quantify them using metrics, e.g. “increased on-time deliveries to clients by 11% and earned an employee satisfaction score of 9.9/10,” or “achieved a 50% decrease in onboarding time.”
Summary: Write an opening paragraph with 3-4 lines that gives an overview of your work history and best skills. Quantify your accomplishments and skills so that the recruiters can easily picture you. For example, “led team of up to 15 salespeople,” “went over sales forecast by $150K two years in a row,” increased daily production efficiency 8.2% through logistics restructure,” and “handled $50,000+ in funds daily.”
Skills to feature: Prepare a list of essential management skills such as “conceptual skills,” “detail-oriented,” “critical thinking skills,” “management skills,” “result-oriented.” Mention these skills throughout the resume length. However, do not overuse the skills. Consider including skills that align with the job description.
Go to the next level: To advance in the career graph, you should do the following:
- Mention about coordinating the full spectrum of daily business activities including inventory control, purchasing, budgeting, advertising and pricing.
- Emphasize on devising staff work schedules, enforcing compliance with health and safety regulations.
- Establishing and implementing store policies and procedures.
Recommended Retail Resume templates
Make sure your resume creates a strong impression at first glance, using some of our professionally-designed, easily customizable templates:
This design makes subtle use of space to differentiate between sections, with bold font in the header to make the job applicant’s name stand out.
The resume layout divides the resume into four quadrants using dotted margins, easily differentiating your work history and skills sections.
This layout gives special emphasis to your summary statement, allowing it to shine. The template’s simple, minimalistic design makes elegant use of color and centered text.
Retail Resume FAQs
1. How do you format your resume based on your career level?
Consider formatting for your resume based on your experience:
- Functional format: This format emphasizes your skills more than your work history, and fits entry-level jobs like cashier or assistant store manager.
- Combination format: This format works for those with some work experience, or are changing career fields, as it balances transferrable skills and relevant work history, demonstrating how you’ve developed your skills from previous jobs.
- Chronological format: The most common resume format, the chronological resume is best for those who can show steady career progress through a detailed work experience section.
2. What are the qualities and traits employers look for in the retail industry?
Recruiters are seeking candidates with good analytical skills, a customer-oriented attitude, patience, flexibility and the ability to learn new processes quickly. Emphasize these traits in your resume, with work examples that show how you’ve applied your abilities. Don’t forget to mention any additional certifications and training you’ve acquired, in addition to any academic degrees.
3. What skills should you put in a retail resume?
Present a mix of technical and soft skills such as:
- Conceptual skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Time management skills
- Leadership skills
- Expertise in in-store logistics, systems, and inventory
- Expertise in strong expense and account management
- Problem-solving ability
- Communication skills