How to tailor an effective retail resume
The retail industry is flush with opportunities for employment, making it a lucrative field for entry-level and experienced workers alike. When applying to these positions, it is important to consider what competition you are up against and how you can optimize your resume to impress employers.
In this guide, we will take you through 5 essential steps for tailoring a resume for retail. Keep reading to learn all about how to:
- Select the correct resume format for your experience level in retail
- Write a compelling resume summary highlighting your retail strengths
- Choose key retail skills to include on your resume
- Use descriptive bullet points to optimize your work experience section
- Properly display your education and relevant certifications
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1. Select the correct resume format for your experience level in retail
The first big decision to make when writing a retail resume is what resume format to use.
Resume formats differ from one another mainly in which section they emphasize the most. Thus, the resume format that will best suit your needs is highly dependent on your experience level.
Here are the 3 main types of resume formats and the purposes they serve:
- Reverse-Chronological: This resume focuses on work experience, listing your most recent job first and working backward from that point. With this format, the work experience section will be the largest and most central section on the document.
- Functional: The functional resume is often used by students or recent graduates, as it removes the focus from work experience. Instead, this resume focuses on education, skills, certifications, and unpaid experience, making it a great time for first-time or entry-level applicants.
- Hybrid: The hybrid format combines elements from both the reverse-chronological and the functional resumes. It distributes focus more evenly between all sections, rather than having one section be a focal point. This format is often used by applicants with limited relevant experience, those who are changing career paths, and those with large gaps in their work history.
The reverse-chronological resume is typically considered the standard and is expected by most employers. However, if you lack relevant work experience, one of the alternative formats can help you create a more effective resume that highlights your strengths rather than your experience shortcomings.
2. Write a compelling resume summary highlighting your retail strengths
A resume summary is a brief statement that starts out your resume by introducing you to the employer. In this summary, you should detail your most important skills, specializations, accomplishments, or any other factors that help you stand out from competing applicants.
To illustrate how to create a well-written resume summary, we have provided an example of a weak retail resume summary followed by a corrected example and explanation.
Incorrect retail resume summary example
Retail Worker with 2 years of experience in department stores. Excellent customer service skills and upselling techniques. Responsible for a significant increase in seasonal sales in a previous temporary position, which led to the winning of a staff award at the company.
Why is this Incorrect?
When writing a resume summary, you want to include as many specific and quantifiable details as possible. For instance, when the applicant says they were responsible for a significant increase in sales, they should provide the exact percentage and more contextual information regarding the type of sales being made.
Corrected retail resume summary example
Talented Retail Sales Associate with 2+ years of experience working in major department stores. Increased holiday sales by over 50% at most recent position through the application of exceptional customer service and upselling techniques. Recipient of company’s “Holiday Sales MVP” award in 2019 & 2020.
Why is this Correct?
This corrected example offers much more specific details, as well as using more engaging and compelling language. The details provided have the context needed to make a lasting impact on employers and show the value the applicant can bring to a company.
3. Choose key retail skills to include on your retail resume
No matter what job you are applying for in retail, it is crucial to show employers through your resume that you have a diverse skillset with many different abilities. This is best accomplished by including both hard and soft retail skills on your resume.
Hard skills are technical abilities that you learn through training and education, while soft skills are interpersonal abilities that deal with how you communicate and work with other people. Soft skills can be both inherent and learned.
Below, we have provided 10 examples of both hard and soft skills that help enhance your retail resume:
The best hard skills to put on your retail resume
- Inventory management
- Money handling and financial transactions
- Point of sale (pos) systems
- Basic accounting and bookkeeping
- Product demonstrations
- Suggestive selling
- Upselling techniques
- Product stocking
- Opening and closing procedures
- Sanitation and safety standards
Effective soft skills for your retail CV
- Customer service
- Verbal communication
- Positive attitude
- Active listening
- Attention to detail
- Conflict resolution
- Time management
4. Use descriptive bullet points to optimize your work experience section
When writing your work experience section, there is often a lot of information to cover in a relatively small amount of space. This means you need to select the very best responsibilities and accomplishments from your previous positions to highlight in your descriptions.
The key to writing the optimal work experience section is to keep your words succinct and organized. Bullet points work excellently for this purpose, helping to give your work experience section greater readability and visual appeal.
Here is an example of a work experience entry from a retail resume
Macy’s, Denver, CO
Retail Sales Associate
August 2016 to May 2019
- Averaged 125% of sales goals quarterly for 2 consecutive years.
- Managed inventory of 100+ items, including setting up store display windows and in-store merchandise displays.
- Assisted an average of 50 customers per day, providing personalized recommendations for products that contributed to high sales goal achievement.
5. Properly display your education and relevant certifications
In general, the minimum education requirement to work in retail is a high school diploma or GED.
However, a two or four-year degree in a related field, such as sales management or retail management, can not only boost your resume’s competitive edge but also help you gain access to higher-level positions.
Additionally, if you have any certifications that are relevant to the retail industry, including this on your resume is key and will show employers the dedication and extra value you offer as an employee.
Here is an example of a well-crafted education section on a retail resume
Howard Community College, Columbia, MD
Associate’s Degree in Retail Merchandising
- Management Certificate — Montgomery College
6. Include relevant extra sections in your retail resume
Incorporating relevant extra sections in your retail resume is of great significance when aiming to stand out in a competitive job market.
While your work experience and skills are crucial, extra sections provide an opportunity to showcase additional qualifications and experiences that set you apart from other candidates.
Including sections such as certifications, professional affiliations, volunteer work, or relevant projects can greatly enhance your retail resume.
Certifications, such as customer service or sales training, demonstrate your commitment to professional development and showcase your expertise in specific areas.
Here's an example of how to properly list certifications in your retail resume
- Certified Sales Associate, Retail Association of America
- Completed comprehensive training program covering effective sales techniques, customer service best practices, and product knowledge.
- Demonstrated proficiency in providing personalized shopping experiences, building customer relationships, and driving sales.
- Implemented upselling strategies resulting in a 15% increase in average transaction value.
- Earned recognition for consistently achieving monthly sales targets and delivering exceptional customer satisfaction.