Leverage Your Transferable Skills to Escape Retail Hell

If you’re working in retail as a stop-gap, or simply want a career change, you might think you’re just treading water to pay the bills. This is far from the case – a retail job involves vital skills that can easily transfer to another position. Here are some of the qualities any employer would like to see.

Retail work, of course, involves interacting with customers. You’ll be accustomed to dealing with people of all types and backgrounds, and this feeds naturally into the ‘excellent interpersonal skills‘ requirement on many application forms. You’ll also be working as part of a team, maybe even supervising or training others, and this only adds to the range of interpersonal skills you possess.

Many employers also place great value on effective time management, and on being a self starter. Your retail experience will give you a head start on this – you never know how many customers you’ll have to deal with in one shift while still fitting in your regular tasks, so it’s essential that you make the best of your time to get everything done. If your work involves any sort of selling on commission, then being a self-starter is a prerequisite, as you’ll need to show initiative to instigate a sale.

It’s a rare retail worker who hasn’t come up against a difficult or unreasonable customer. Dealing well with them is a great example of being calm under pressure, problem solving, and thinking on your feet, all qualities that are essential on your resume.

Most retail work necessarily involves handling cash, which is a transferable skill to any job as it shows that you’re trustworthy and have numeracy skills (which is a surprisingly valuable quality). Related to this is inventory control: if your manager trusts you to carry out this task, it shows dependability, and should be mentioned on your resume.

Finally, most retail jobs involve a degree of product knowledge. If you don’t know your product, it’s going to be difficult to advise on it, and good product knowledge shows that you have the ability to learn, retain, and apply information.

So, whether you thought your retail experience was of any career value or not, it’s clear that the job requires many qualities that any employer would appreciate. Make sure you highlight each of them in your resume, matching them to the skills required for the job you’re applying for, and giving examples of how each skill would make you a valuable employee.

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