Let’s face, you’ve had a job in retail. You might even be in a retail job right now, like me. Or, you might be looking for your first job, and it’s probably going to be in retail.
As someone who, in her 23 years of life, has been nothing but behind the counter, here’s a list of things to consider when going into retail.
- WHY RETAIL? You should ask this question when going into any new industry, but when it comes to retail, people tend forget to ask themselves this. Of course, you can pose Why not retail? Retail is an extremely flexible and easy industry to get into. It’s fantastic if you’re only looking to work certain days due to prior commitments, like school or childcare. You don’t need specific degrees or higher education qualifications. Sometimes, you don’t even need retail experience! It’s a good first job, and there’s always room for promotion. However, talk to others in retail, go to websites that talk about working in retail, find out why they’re there. If there are other options best suited to you, make retail your last resort.
- RESEARCH. You should do this regardless of what industry/company you’re going into. But here, the research isn’t so you can answer interview questions with confidence. No, this research is for you. Pretend as if you are interviewing the company; How flexible can they be? What their staff turnover? The hourly rate? Incentives? What do they expect from you? I wish I had done this. Just because the company you are working for are staples on the high street, does NOT mean that they care about you and the workforce. You are a valuable employee, do not make a company think otherwise. Look for a company that respects and actually talks to their workforce. Smaller, independent companies are usually better at this.
- THE PUBLIC. Almost all jobs expect customer interaction, but in retail, it is one of the most important parts of the job. Like CEO’s, the public tend to forget that you are human. Staff (verbal) harassment is an unfortunately common thing, and you have to be prepared to endure it. People get angry and agitated at silly things that are out of your control. Usually, it’s not personal, it’s just you’re there and they need to let it out. This does not mean you need to take it. Some employers (like mine) are good with this and will always take your side and have your back. So, when defending yourself, think about whether or not you will get into trouble for it. Most customers are grateful for your help, and you’ll find regulars coming in just to say hello and chat. It’s not all ‘I want to speak to your manager’ or ‘I’m going to tweet about this’.
- THE WORK. Think about the type of person you are and think of the responsibilities you will be given. Depending on which store you work in, and depending on the time of year, most of the jobs can be mundane and monotonous. You will be doing this every day, all day, depending on your contracted hours. A lot of people working in retail do it because they have to; they can’t afford to window shop. If you can, would you be happy doing the same work every day? If you’re the type of person who likes variety or a fast paced environment, retail may not be the best place for you. Or, just become a Christmas temp. It’s the busiest time of the year!
- GET THE MOST OUT OF RETAIL. Retail can be fantastic for moving up the ladder. Managers and even their superiors all started off as store staff, before earning their place in HR, head office, operations, marketing etc. If you don’t want to work your way up, that’s fine too. Retail can be a great way to earn extra cash while you’re studying, or just so you can afford to do other things. You also can gain experience that you can use for other job interviews outside of retail, like organisation, time keeping, money management, and I.T skills. Make retail work for you, and hey, you might even be the manager some day.