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This 5-point retail resume checklist will boost your odds of getting hired

These retail professionals break down what your entry-level resume absolutely needs to land you that job.

This 5-point retail resume checklist will boost your odds of getting hired

Want to get your foot in the door of the retail industry, but not sure how when you’re first starting out? Not to worry—it’s definitely possible to put together a resume that will get noticed.

“For entry-level retail roles, the barrier to entry skill-wise is low. So the key to standing out is to show passion for the industry and the ability to excel in the role,” says Mari Corella, a New York City-based fashion merchandising director who’s worked for Avon, Saks Fifth Avenue and Williams-Sonoma.

A great resume will help you do that and boost your chances of getting an interview. Neat, easy-to-read and error-free is a given. But your resume needs to deliver on these five things if you want to get hired.

1. It shows you’re a people person

The no. 1 quality retailers look for in employees is the ability to provide good customer service, says Christine Simon, a human resources manager for Lowe’s in Loveland, Colorado. “Working in a room alone concentrating on one project does not work in this industry. We want someone who has the willingness and openness to talk and be social.”

Your personality and skill in interacting with others will come out in an interview, but there are ways to show people skills in your resume, too. Include that you belong to clubs, have experience in another customer-oriented business or participate in other people-focused activities.

“Whether in a store setting dealing with customers or in the corporate offices, the ability to deal with people is key,” Corella says. “Show that you are personable, outgoing, and can get along well with others.”

You can write: As an employee at the Sandwich Shoppe, I was responsible for greeting customers, taking their order in a friendly manner and guaranteeing they got a quality product.  

2. It provides plenty of detail

Be detailed when explaining your paid and unpaid work experience. Playing up the things you have done is important especially for a resume with little or no retail experience.

“Be specific in every aspect of your prior positions, job duties and educational degrees,” Simon says. “I want to see details about your job duties and what you were responsible for.”

Even if you think your job wasn’t that important, remember that everything you’ve done is potential experience. If you were a cashier, you were trusted to handle money. If you were a babysitter, you were responsible for children’s lives. Play these things up.

“If I have two applicants with the same job history, I would interview the person that described their positions more thoroughly than just saying, ‘I worked at Target,’” Simon says.

You can write: As a Girl Scout cookie sales volunteer, I was responsible for counting cookie boxes, greeting Girl Scouts and their parents, and logging cash receipts. Our team had the lowest error rate in the state.

3. It shows off your skills

Anyone can say they’re good with people or they’re quick learners, but to prove it, you need to give examples that demonstrate those abilities, Corella says. Even bullet points describing unrelated personal skills you’ve mastered can help differentiate you and impress a retail hiring manager.

“Many candidates have an ‘other’ section of their resume for personal information,” Corella says. “A statement like, ‘Fluent in Spanish after six months,’ can show you are not only driven to learn new things, but excel at them, too.”

You can write: I organized a holiday block party with my neighbors that has now become an annual tradition.

4. It demonstrates genuine interest

Retail is a diverse industry with companies focusing on selling consumers a variety of products. Retailers love to hire people who have a passion for what they sell, so demonstrating genuine interest and enthusiasm can give you a leg up.

“Passion can be shown in such bullet points as having a blog related to the field, volunteering for industry-related events and having affiliations with industry groups,” Corella says. “For example, someone interested in gaining an entry-level fashion role can hold or contribute to a fashion blog, volunteer at Fashion Week, and be a member of their university's retail club.”

You can write: I helped my parents renovate their bathroom (for a job in a hardware store) and discovered I had a real knack and passion for home improvement projects.

5. It’s tailored to the role

No matter what industry you’re trying to get into, resumes aren’t a one-size-fits-all item. “Tailor your resume to fit the position you are applying for,” Simon says.

Take your cues from the job description. Employers will spell out the skills and traits they value the most in the role, and your resume should mirror their priorities and language.

You can write: Experienced graphic designer with more than 10 years using Illustrator, InDesign and other Adobe software tools for retail brands. (In response to a job posting that emphasized the Adobe software suite.)

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