Applying for a retail position?
In our long years helping job hunters get hired, we’ve come to realize one thing:
It takes a lot of patience and commitment to land your dream job in retail and make your way to the top.
You’ll come across hundreds of job openings in your local area, most of which have requirements that you can easily meet.
But despite that…
Your job hunt is yet to end because you’re not getting any calls.
Or perhaps this is your first time applying for a retail job, and you have no idea how to get yourself noticed.
The good news is:
Since you have the skills and qualifications to excel at the position, nothing will stop you.
You’re only missing one key piece in the puzzle…
And that is a killer resume that highlights your strengths and value.
So now you might be wondering:
How do I even get started with my retail resume? And if I already have one, what can I do to improve it further?
That’s exactly what we’re going to teach you this guide.
Let’s dive in…
What you’ll learn here
- How to look at the job application from the recruiter’s perspective
- Ideal format and resume structure for retail job applications
- Most important sections to put in your retail resume
- How highlighting your relevant experience makes all the difference
- Best soft and core skills for retail resumes and how to include them
How to write a retail resume that shows your true value
Recruiters go through hundreds of retail resumes before settling on a final candidate. But… It’s impossible for them to read through all applications with the same level of focus and enthusiasm.
As a quick solution:
Companies have to use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan long lists of job applications. The software will then cut through the noise and only keep the most promising resumes for the final evaluation.
If you want to maximize your chances of getting hired, your resume must use an ATS-friendly format.
How do you that?
With a few simple tricks:
Always keep your retail resume to one-page long… Because that makes it easier to scan by both computers and human beings.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should fill every single inch on the page with content. A proper font with lots of white space around the page are crucial for your resume design.
For the format:
We recommend the reverse-chronological structure for the retail industry. Simply because it does an excellent job portraying your experience and how you’ve developed.
It will also leave you enough space to feature other essential sections, such as skills and education.
How to create a catchy header for retail resumes
There are many ways you can be wrong about creating a header section for your retail resume. But there’s only one right way to do that.
First things first:
The header section should sit at the top of your resume so that it’s the first thing anyone sees. That offers you a chance to leave a memorable impression and hammer your name into the recruiter’s mind.
You must only add relevant contact details that might affect the hiring decision. That includes the following information:
- Full name
- Job title
- Email address
- City, State address
- LinkedIn profile
You can’t place these details randomly on the page and expect the hiring manager to guess what is what.
That’s why you must always put your name at the top with a slightly bigger font, separated from the rest. Your job title will then follow with a smaller font to maintain a clear hierarchy.
Here’s how that might look like on the page:
2 retail resume header examples
Looking good, right?
But still not quite there yet from the hiring manager’s perspective.
Here’s how you can make that better:
- Always use a work email address to portray professionalism
- Only include the “City, State” when it comes to your physical address
- Feature a link to your LinkedIn profile to allow recruiters to learn more about you
Now — look at this example:
Summary section to your retail resume: Dos and Don’ts
The summary is a tricky section:
While it makes you feel like you’re improving your resume, it can hurt your chances of getting hired if it’s not perfected.
How does that happen? You ask.
If your summary section is all filler content without any actual value, it will only weaken your resume. The last thing you want to do is make the recruiter feel like they’re wasting their time by reading your application.
Here’s how to write a summary section that sums up your retail expertise:
As its name suggests, this section should summarize your whole experience in three to four main ideas.
Write a small paragraph that tells the company why they should hire you. And use it to feature your best achievements and back that up with quantifiable results.
Remember also to include highly-specific soft and technical skills to highlight relevance.
Here’s an example:
2 retail resume summary examples
Let’s be honest here…
You wouldn’t hire yourself if your resume had a summary like the one above. Simply because it checks all the wrong boxes by being vague and generic.
Even worse, it doesn’t do a good job proving the candidate’s worth compared to others.
A good resume summary shows how you can help by:
- Using action verbs in the past tense to establish clear causality
- Highlighting your best, most relevant retail experiences and skills
- Supporting your claims with accomplishments and quantifiable metrics
Let’s see a better example:
How to write an experience section for a retail resume
The experience section is the most crucial part of your resume because it’s where you’ll demonstrate your true worth. You’ll take headhunters from only knowing your name to believing you’re their perfect candidate.
To create a killer experience section, you must follow a clear set of expert-driven rules.
Since you’re using the reverse chronological format, you must feature your employment history from the latest job to the oldest one.
Of course, you won’t have to include every single position you held in the past. Instead, you’ll focus on the best, most relevant ones.
Make sure each job you list includes the:
- Job title
- Employer or company name
- Work duration (Month/Year)
- 3-5 bullet points showcasing your responsibilities
Most job achievements in retail are easily measurable, which is great if you want to stand out from the pack.
Quantifying your performance in this section gives recruiters a more holistic view of what you’re capable of. And that makes the decision-making part a whole lot easier.
Instead of writing “I was good at customer service,” you can show how the store ratings improved after you got hired.
Here are some questions to help you come up with more measurable achievements:
- Did you increase sales by a certain percent?
- Did happy customers compliment your customer service and communication skills?
- Have you ever been recognized as employee of the month?
- What POS skills do you have? And how were you able to use them to excel in the job?
Enough with the theoretical knowledge! Let's see some real examples…
2 retail resume experience examples
Although it does get some parts right, the previous example will lose you endless job opportunities.
**#1 — None of the duties are specific. ** Any sales associate working in any retail store or business can claim to handle such job duties. And even though they’re not lying, such overused phrases will only weaken your resume.
**#2 — The achievements are impossible to quantify. ** Let’s look at it this way:
There are major differences between sales associates when it comes to job performance. Some are super-friendly, diligent, and enthusiastic — while others may give off bad vibes and push buyers away.
A recruiter has no way of differentiating you from the second type — unless you help them with precise metrics.
**#3 — Weak language that doesn’t infer clear causality. ** Expressions like “responsible for” and “helped with” make you a secondary character in your own story. So, be sure to start each bullet point with an action verb to show your direct contribution in the workplace.
Here’s a much better experience section example:
What are the best retail skills to put on a resume?
Retail skills can be broken down into two categories: soft skills and hard skills.
The difference between the two is quite simple:
Soft skills are personal characteristics that make you best fit to interact with others and thrive in the job.
A few examples of soft skills for retail include:
- Interpersonal skills
- Customer service
Hard skills, however, are learned abilities that lean more towards the technical and can be measured based on results. In retail, that includes skills, such as:
- POS systems
- Retail software
- Money handling
The question now becomes:
Which soft/hard skills should you put on a retail resume?
If you’re applying for a store clerk position, your resume section must focus on customer service skills and technical knowledge.
On the other hand:
A store manager’s role requires more commerciality and leadership skills.
So, it’s all about your background and plan for the future.
To help you accelerate your job hunt, we’ve gathered the best soft and core retail skills to include in a resume.
Is education required in retail resumes?
The truth is:
Although a school degree isn’t so crucial for most retail jobs, companies often require a bare minimum level of education before hiring. Under the job requirements, you’ll see them asking for a high school diploma or GED.
If you have a GED or a better diploma, you must include an education section in your resume.
For managerial positions, employers will ask for a higher degree — such as a B.Sc in Retail Management. So, take your time to read through each application and make sure you meet the requirements.
Your education section should look something like this:
Which certificates are most required for retail jobs?
It all depends on which job position you’re applying for and your goals for the future.
If you’re a retail store manager, try to feature a project management certificate in your resume. Although it’s not required, such a certification will put its owner ahead of the competition.
Certificates are also crucial for climbing up the ladder and getting promoted quickly.
On the contrary:
It wouldn’t make a difference if you featured a sales management certificate for an entry-level job. In fact, you might come off as overqualified and not be considered for the position.
Here are some of the most sought-after certificates to list on your resume:
Do you need a language section for retail resumes?
Language is a necessary tool for day-to-day interactions with retail customers. That’s especially true in areas where there’s a lot of cultural diversity and foreign customers.
Hiring companies will sometimes specify the languages they’re looking for in a retail applicant. But even if they don’t, a language section can offer a plus to your resume.
List them all based on your level of efficiency. And make sure to start with the ones most relevant to the company’s customer profile.
- Leave a bold impression on recruiters by customizing your resume to match retail job applications
- Write a good summary that features accomplishments and retail-specific skills
- Use your relevant work history as a key selling point to show your true impact
- Include relevant keywords, skills, and phrases to get your resume noticed by applicant tracking systems
- Add more sections such as education, certificates, and languages to make your application more noticeable when the competition is fierce