How To Thrive, Not Just Survive, In Your Retail Job

‘Tis the season – the retail season. With the upcoming Black Friday craze, the holiday shopping season begins. This is a great opportunity for available jobs with retail hiring increasing from 12% of U.S. jobs to 20%.

After years of working retail as a teenager in various departments at Nordstrom, where I catered to customers ranging from teeny bopper shoppers to older ladies and even picky men purchasing suits, I’ve picked up a couple key tenets to help survive a retail role during the holiday craze. The influx of shoppers can feel overwhelming for any retail worker, but the experience gained from a retail job can provide many benefits.

Whether you are seeking a long-term career in retail or are just using it as an in-between step in your career, you can thrive in your retail position and gain skills valuable in any workplace and even help guide your future career path.

Keep the following tips in mind to make the most of your retail role:

Wear comfortable shoes

While certain stores may provide footwear guidelines and tennis shoes may be banned, it is worth investing in a comfortable pair of shoes. You will be standing on your feet for hours and walking around the store helping customers during this busy shopping time. It is to your benefit and theirs, in a service position, that you feel as comfortable and happy as possible to best assist customers. Happiness begins with your feet as enduring painful blisters is not ideal.

5,4,3,2,1… Take deep breaths

During the holidays, stress is running high and you will certainly interact with at least a few unhappy or irate customers. As egregious as their requests may be, take a deep breath and avoid becoming frazzled or losing your temper. The ability to handle daily mini crises can only make you stronger and cultivate your leadership abilities, critical thinking skills, and ability to work independently. If you are feeling overwhelmed or angry from a customer interaction, take a deep breath and smile.

Don’t go crazy with your employee discount

Some stores offer their employees a discount. Having worked at a place like Nordstrom, I can attest to the allure of 20% off the entire store. The shoes and the possibilities for purchase are endless. But, remember that you are working in order to make money. Although the discount can be tempting, if you can, choose direct deposit so your money goes straight into the bank. This will remove temptation and help you save up for a purchase you would really like to invest in.

Use your co-workers as an asset

Certain retailers use a commission incentive system for employees, which can pit co-workers against one another. But, the word “co-worker” should not become synonymous with competition. Alternatively, your co-workers should be an asset and your greatest allies during the holiday craze. The ability to work with a variety of different personalities is an important skill. If you work together in a retail environment, that can mean more money in everyone’s pockets and a more pleasant time. It is to your advantage to have a co-worker who can help you out during an interaction with a difficult customer.

Use your position as a building block

Many of the skills you develop in a retail environment are transferable to any workplace. By working in the customer service industry, you can develop strong verbal communication and interpersonal skills, which are coveted in a candidate by almost any employer. You’ll develop the ability to relate to almost anyone, including customers and co-workers. Also, do not undervalue the thick skin required for a retail environment and your ability to stay calm, problem solve in stressful scenarios, and work under pressure.

In fact, your strong suits in retail can indicate a career path for you. Look at the skills below and see if any of the future career paths sound appealing.

  • More frequently, retail workers are required to use diverse technology. If you relish the chance to develop your tech savvy skills and enjoy the hands-on point-of-sale software, you may enjoy a career in IT.
  • Do you know your product information forwards, backwards, and sideways? Do you enjoy selling? You might look for an inside sales position.
  • Does helping brighten a customer’s day brighten your day too? You might want to look for positions as a customer service or happiness associate or specialist.
  • Does selling the product through other channels or delving into what compels a customer to buy the product pique your interest? You might look into careers in marketing.
  • Do you enjoy calculating the cash register math in your head when dispensing change? You might consider a position in accounting.

Retail season might seem like an eternity now, but it won’t last forever. If you need a new role for after you’ve survived the retail rush, check out Simply Hired to set you on your path to success.