Once upon a time, you landed a job in retail just by showing up at the store and filling out an application. More and more of these roles now require a resume. Here’s what to include and highlight in the one you write for a retail gig.

It was a few years ago now, but I remember walking down a busy retail street in Toronto and there in the window was a sign. It isn’t strange to see a sign in a retail window, but this one was a first for me. It said, “Help Wanted, Resume required.” I had always thought of retail positions as jobs that you got through filling out an application, not jobs that needed a resume. Not so. In 2012, almost every job you apply for in service, trade or corporate environments requires a resume.

There are two major skill sets that align themselves to the retail profession: customer service and sales. If you are going to work in retail you must possess both – be a people person, or at least know how to pretend to be, and know how to help people make a buying decision.  That’s what sales is.

A retail resume follows the same format as all other resumes, both chronological or functional. You should include as much of the following types of information as possible:

  • Your number of years experience and your areas of expertise and knowledge
  • Sales statistics. Retail resume readers want to know how you did sales-wise compared to your colleagues
  • Type of environment – up scale, trendy, big box, intimate, chain
  • Products sold and their price point – clothing, electronics, pet, sporting goods, food
  • Product knowledge – include training courses and even self-taught information that is relevant to the brand or its products
  • Your communication skills – friendly, outgoing, good command of the  English language (and – bonus- any other languages you speak), the ability to listen to the customers needs
  • Your interpersonal skills- experience with diversified demographics, age levels, genders; examples of activities where you have had to interact with different people and the outcomes
  • What you can do for them, why they should hire you and not the other applicants. This may best be illustrated in a cover letter.
  • Education and related customer service, sales or communication courses
  • Interests including clubs, teams, associations you belong or recently belonged to, except for those which are religious or politically based
  • Use  volunteer work or course study to validate your skills
  • Exude some passion, enthusiasm and clearly interest in the retail industry

Attach a cover letter that does not regurgitate your resume but talks about what you will bring to the position.

Check your Facebook page to ensure you are portrayed as a reliable, responsible individual that a future employer would be proud to hire. If you’re applying for a retail clothing job and you want to go the extra mile: wear that company’s clothes in your profile pic.

If handing the resume in in person, be well-dressed, polite, friendly and kind to everyone within a one mile radius of the store. Your future manager could be the person on the bike you’re yelling at for cutting you off on the sidewalk. You never know.


Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer


Author of Networking How to Build Relationships That Count, How to Get a Job and Keep It
Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The Mastermind Group