Christmas is coming, the leaves on the trees are changing, the tinsel is being hung on beautifully decorated trees, bells are ringing, the smell of pumpkin spice and eggnog lattes linger on your co-workers’ breath, the store is getting messier by the second no matter how many times you refold that pile of turtlenecks, and a customer is yelling at you because you don’t have a size M in green without a tear in it in the stockroom and all you are thinking is “get me out of here”…
If this is a regular occurrence for you, you probably working in a retail position that you just don’t love anymore, and you may be looking for an out. Now, don’t get me wrong, working in retail is an enlightening experience. I honestly and truly believe that everyone should work in a customer-facing retail or hospitality position (preferably a fast-paced and high-energy environment) at least once before moving on to the 9-5, suit and tie (or running shoes if you’re in a startup) lifestyle. You learn how to talk to people you don’t know, build relationships, work towards a goal, multi-task between operations and people, and fold a mean t-shirt. These are all relatable skills if you’re looking for a successful career or romantic relationship. I wouldn’t trade my experience in retail as a sales associate, and later a store manager, a way for the world.
However, there comes a time in your life where you have to decide “Where do I want my future career growth to be?”. The fact of the matter is, the longer you have experience in a certain industry, the harder it is to transition out of it or learn the necessary skills that you need to pursue your dream career. So, unless you see yourself working your way up the career chain to a store manager into a head office position, or managing a restaurant, the time might be right to look outside of your current employment. When I worked in these types of jobs, I always worked alongside people who had skills that they weren’t using to their full potential on the shop floor, whether it was the love of graphic design, writing, HR, PR, and more. I’m writing this article for you.
There comes a time in your life where you have to decide “Where do I want my future career growth to be?”.
However, if you’re looking to have a fresh start out of retail to find yourself in the corporate or 9-5 life, read along.
**Disclaimer: some careers like doctors, lawyers, scientists and the like take many years of studying, and intimidating exams to find jobs in those fields and this step-by-step article, as helpful and entertaining as it is, might not give you all of the information you’re looking for. If you’ve passed all those aforementioned tasks, and you need a hand getting out of a retail job, read along.**
1. Upskill your resume
I know, I know. Working on your resume is a tedious process, but once you get this out of the way, it will make the rest of your job-hunting so much easier. Creating your resume can be a great way to layout all of the things you are great at doing, and lay it out in an organized way. It will help you speak to your skills in an interview, and really think back on the experience you already have. The important areas you must have in your resume are Objective, Skills, Education, Experience, and ExtraCurriculars.
Try and phrase your current experience as something that would appeal to a future employer. Think of your resume as the copy that they put on the box of snacks at the grocery store. Yes, they go a little over the top talking about salty-corn chips, but that is really the only opportunity you’ll get to sell yourself. Take this opportunity to really harp on how you can take your skills and phrase them to sell yourself as a new addition to your new employer’s team.
If you are great at chatting with customers, phrase this as relationship building. If you keep your managers up-to-date on what is happening on the shop/restaurant floor, then you are assisting with reports. There are many ways that you are developing in your job that you really don’t even realize that look great on your resume.
2. Get Social
You may have heard this advice before, but it’s definitely good advice so I’ll say it again: Make sure you give your social profiles a refresh. Try to remove too many pictures that you would not want your potential new boss to see. That being said, don’t be a fake version of yourself. It’s like trying to hold up a facade while you’re dating someone, and then becoming a whole new person once you and your beau become official. You should aim to be the best version of yourself, but not someone else, and if that means bonding over that image of you holding a beer at the Weeknd concert with your new boss, then so be it.
It’s like trying to hold up a facade while you’re dating someone, and then becoming a whole new person once you and your beau become official.
A social media profile that you simply cannot overlook is your Linked In profile. Aim to ensure that your LinkedIn bio line aligns with the career you hope to achieve. Remember, it is a social profile, not an official resume, so it is expected that you do a little airbrushing here and there.
If your current header says “Cashier” try changing it to “Retail Professional” and see if you get any bites from headhunters. If you’re a Waiter, you may get noticed with a headline like “Customer Experience Team Member”. I know that when I go to a restaurant, there is nothing more important than giving a great experience to the diners, so if you are proud of the experience you provide, then give this a shot.
Ensure you pack your bio with any relatable skills. This will ensure that you come up in searches from head hunters. That means if you rocked your accounting class in university, or know your way around Adobe Photoshop, it’s time to let the world know that you have those skills that can make you stand out against a competitor vying for the same job.
3. Get Your Side Hustle On
As I mentioned before, most job hunters are going to be checking out your online presence to get an understanding of who you are, before even scheduling an interview with you. It is becoming even more important to have some sort of side hustle. Being able to say that you have an entrepreneurial spirit will make your future employer more assured that you are a self-starter and don’t need to be micromanaged to get things done.
It’s always a great idea to start your own blog or youtube channel, centered around a topic that interests you. Bonus points if this topic is situated around a skill needed in your future job.
Don’t have time to start your own blog? There are many blogs out there that regularly accept contributors. This is a great way to get practice writing, and also, add another shiny designation to your resume.
4. Use Every Opportunity to Make a Connection
One of the biggest benefits of working in an extremely social job like a sales associate or a waiter is the opportunity to meet an interesting range of people. You’d be hard-pressed to find another job where you get facetime with 100+ people a day. Being a great associate means getting to know people beyond the sale, so this is a great time to learn more about the jobs that are out there.
Next time you meet someone at work, get to know them and find out what they do outside of the shop. If their career choice aligns with something that you could see yourself doing, then use this opportunity to build some seriously strong relationships and pick their brain on their career, how they got it, and if they like it.
You never know, if they like you enough, they might even help you get an interview at their company!
5. Narrow in on what you want
There is nothing more confusing for a hiring manager to be sitting in front of someone who doesn’t know what they want. They generally want to help you and determine if the job you are after is going to be the right fit for you, and if you are going to be able to achieve both your short term and long term goals by taking on this position.
If the hiring manager sees that your long term goals do not align with what is capable of achieving within the company, they may determine that you are not the right fit. Take your time to research which other sorts of roles are available within the company and find out if these align with what you want to achieve.
Another interview faux-pas would be to not know what you want at all. You should at the very least have an idea of the type of responsibilities and tasks you enjoy doing.
Unsure of what sort of opportunities you even think would interest you? Do this exercise:
Write down 6 things that you enjoy doing (Watching TV and drinking on Fridays are not included)
Write down 3 things that you think you could actually get paid to do, that align with the previous list.
Get on Google and start searching for jobs that include these tasks.
Now that you have ideas of which jobs could interest you, get on glassdoor and see if people like these jobs, what sort of companies offer them and if their pay range is something you are comfortable with. Next, go on Linked In and creep the people who have these jobs to determine what sort of path they took to achieve these jobs. This can help you ensure that you not only get your foot in the door, but you choose the right job in the first place.
There is nothing more confusing for a hiring manager to be sitting in front of someone who doesn’t know what they want.
6. Never Turn Down An Interview
Now that you have completed the aforementioned steps, you likely have recruiters banging at your doors. Maybe all the roles you are presented with aren’t your cup of tea, or maybe it’s not for the company of your dreams, but taking an interview is such an important experience; one you should expose yourself to as much as you can. For Better Information Explore Our Interview Section.
I remember taking a few interviews for a few jobs that I knew weren’t perfect for me, before finding my current job that I absolutely love. But if it wasn’t for those, I might not have been as prepared for the interview that got me my job now. Every time you show up for an interview, you get rid of interview jitters, accustom yourself to meeting new people, answering situational questions about yourself, and expose yourself to the types of things that happen in an interview. You may even be referred to a job that could be a better fit for you from the first interview.
Keep in mind that most of the time, if you have been brought in for an interview, then the company thinks that you can do the job on paper. An interview is mainly to ensure that your personality is a good fit and that you will be able to build great relationships in your new company. Remember to have fun, and look at your new potential co-worker as a friend. After all, they’re a human too.
Need more advice on how to start a career in a new industry? Let us know in the comments.