The retail industry encompasses the sale of goods or services from an individual or company to the end user or consumer. This crosses varied sectors from fashion to electrical, food to holidays. All retailers are part of a supply chain which includes wholesalers who supply the industry, manufacturers and the outlets for the sale of goods or services themselves. Retail can be a fast-paced environment to work in whether on the shop floor or in a sales contact centre and key words are frequently used when job descriptions are read (see more later on).
The aim of your CV
The aim of a CV is a simple one – to place in you prime position for the role for which you have applied by outlining, to the employer, a brief description of how your skills are related to the competencies they require to fulfil a role successfully. Within certain industries it is obvious that specific skills and qualifications are needed for you to have a good shot at the jobs and retailers are no exception. They are very keen on demonstrated examples of continued professional development either on the shop floor or off. You should never forget the importance of crossover skills as well. Like all CV’s it is worth targeting it to the job brief to highlight your suitability as a candidate. Keep it simple (no ‘fancy’ fonts or colours) and easy to read and two sides of A4 paper or less.
A CV to target this market can be in the form of a traditional reverse chronological order CV, or a skills based CV which concentrates more on your competencies rather than when you achieved something. Many people assume that a retail CV must showcase your previous roles however, this is not always the case as employers are keen to see transferable abilities in action. Either way, it is essential that the focus of the CV communicates why you are the ideal candidate for the role.
The CV detail
The retail CV should always include the following and depending which type of CV you decide is suitable (either a classic CV or skill based CV), the order of the information may vary.
- Personal information and statement
- Education and qualifications
- Your work experience and skills
- Industry keywords
Lead with your personal details and statement, as it is essential that the employer knows who they are reading about. Make sure your name, contact address, landline and mobile telephone number, plus your email address (if you check it on a regular basis) are placed at the top of the page. Omit any superfluous detail such as marital status, number of children, a photograph and nationality as they are simply not relevant, (apart from if you are a foreign national who has residency/ a work permit for the UK). A one paragraph personal profile should be able to tell the employer at a glance if your application is worth pursuing any further so make this count.
If you are fresh from school or university, then it makes sense to outline your education and qualifications next, listing the most recently first; however, if you are writing a skill based CV or you have a longer employment history, order the sections accordingly. It is important in this section to remember include any professional training you have had or other courses which are relevant.
With regards to your work experience, you should always list your most recent job first (date, job title and employer). Retailers are keen to know what your duties were so outline to them your responsibilities. It is also worth including information such as targets you or your team met or how a change you implemented increased takings. Even if you have no retail experience, include transferable skills such as communication and organisational skills and team working.
A last word is that the retail industry as a whole is very keen on ‘keywords’ or ‘buzzwords’. Many retail recruiters or HR departments ask their applicants to complete an online application due to the high volumes of applications they receive, to which they may or may not ask you to attach your CV. With this in mind, it is worth knowing the words or phrases they look out for to snare the applicants they are looking for. These include such words as teamwork, customer service, flexibility and interpersonal skills. Look through the job description to make sure you have ticked all the boxes they are looking for as these will be the keywords they are looking for applicants to use. Also remember that the sector you are applying within (fashion, food etc) will determine the keywords you use, as will the level of the position (management, shop floor, customer service, merchandiser etc).