Retail resume and interview tips
Like it or not, first impressions count.
From the way you dress and speak to how you interact with those around you, everything has an immediate effect on how other people perceive you.
This is never truer than in the professional retail environment when these factors can mean the difference between a happy and satisfied customer and no sale at all.
Retail recruitment experts agree that the same rules definitely apply when looking for a job in that industry.
The detail in your resume and choice of outfit in an interview, even the way you address a potential employer over the phone has a direct impact on your ability to get the job you want.
CareerOne have compiled a list of tips to help you make the best first impression and score a job in retail.
As the first point of contact with an employer, a sharp resume is your number one job-getting tool.
According to Bronwyn Butcher of Frontline Retail in Perth, an increasing number of management staff are adopting a phone interview first approach to recruitment, so a well designed resume is vital.
Used wisely a great resume can also halve the time between a phone call, the interview and getting the job.
Here are some retail industry focused tips for getting your resume into shape
- Layout – less is more Keep font and font size conservative and consistent. Arial or Times New Roman in 10, 11 or 12 point is recommended by most recruiters. Always avoid using colour, chaotic graphics or a photograph of yourself. The reader is far more interested in your resume’s content rather than how flash it is.
- Get the basics right Make sure your contact details are displayed clearly at the top of your resume. Include a phone number and email address that you check regularly.
- Let your experience speak for itself Don’t scrimp on detail in your previous jobs. People with longer work history should aim for between 10 and 15 lines about your various tasks and responsibilities. Ideally, list your experience in bullet point form so your skills are easily identifiable rather than being lost in a sea of text.If you have worked for smaller companies that are not so well known, be sure to add as much detail as possible as to the type of business they are. Also, be clear about your level of customer interaction and other jobs you were expected to do eg. small grocery store selling fruit and vegetables. I worked as a cashier and was also required to stock shelves and tidy the store at the end of my shift. You can not assume an employer is able to “read between the lines”.
- Be precise – check your facts Double-check dates of previous work history and list them from most current to least current. Three referees are more than enough. Just make sure you contact each person before your potential employer calls them to let them know you have applied for a job and that they may be called and asked about you.
- Use spell-check Fantastic experience and a sleek layout mean nothing if you use poor grammar or sloppy spelling. Double and triple check your resume and cover letter before sending your resume.
So, you have past first base by getting an interview. Congratulations, however, it is important to remember that your next steps are crucial.
Use this meeting with your potential employer as the chance to elaborate on your experience, showcase your personality and people skills and drive home your enthusiasm for the position. A good idea is to practice your interview skills with a friend.
Five top tips
1. “Mystery shop” your employer
This is one of the biggest advantages you have working in the retail industry. You can quite literally ‘try out’ your potential employer before you go to the interview. Frontline Retail’s Butcher suggests spending some time, a few days before the interview, going into the shop of your choice, being a customer and looking around.
“Make a mental list of what you like and don’t like and get the ‘feel’ of the shop and what improvements you would make if you were on staff. This will leave you well-armed with questions and input when you go for your interview,” she said.
2. Dress to impress
Become the brand you want to represent. Looking your best is essential in an interview. It is extra important when applying for jobs within department stores or fashion retailers. Wear something to the interview that reflects the distinct style of the shop, or go one step better and wear a piece from their latest line or collection.
3. Be personable and attentive
It may sound obvious but an employer can tell immediately if you are focused on the interview at hand. Little things like remembering to switch off your mobile, maintaining eye contact, speaking clearly and keeping your handbag/bag under your chair will help to convey the message that you are serious.
4. Know yourself
Butcher also suggests coming to the interview armed with a phrase or a couple of sentences that “sum-up” your personality. Your own personal slogan will show that you are mature, confident and above all, are prepared for the interview. Shelia Rowley of Frontline Retail in Canberra also recommends preparing a reason for why you are leaving your current job and looking for a new position.
5. Always ask questions
It is last on this list but should be the first thing on your mind in any interview. Asking the potential employer questions is absolutely essential because it highlights your interest in the position and shows you have done some research.
Prepare a list of questions that you can bring into the room remembering to pay attention so you know when will be the best time to drop them in. The forward planning you do in step one will make this easier.