Make Retail the Best Job You’ve Ever Had

Working in fashion can be a rewarding career path, but you won’t find many shortcuts to the top.  Most fashion designers spend years folding t-shirts before ever being involved in the design of one.  Even if working in retail isn’t your dream job, it’s a great first step to take if you want a successful career in fashion.

There are some seriously great perks of working in retail.  In addition to some nice discounts, you have the chance to pick up skills and insight that can propel your career.  Here are a few opportunities to keep in mind when you land that job as a retail associate:

1.  Evolve Your Style

retail, fashion, menswear

Depending on the store you work for, you’re probably going to see a few different collections come through.  You might even get the scoop on the new style that’s coming out next season.  Seeing an item in person can completely change your opinion as compared to only seeing it online.  Just by being around clothing (or shoes and accessories) all day, your style will start to evolve.  Make use of that employee discount to slowly change your wardrobe.  If you work at a store with little variety, do some people watching!  You never know where you’ll find inspirations.  Just don’t get caught staring when you see some high-waisted shorts on the wrong person.

2.  Become the “Sweater Guy”

menswear, obama

If there’s a department or type of clothing you’re especially drawn to, own it.  Learn about the sizing, materials, and even the process that goes into making it.  Whenever a customer needs help, you’ll be able to dazzle them with your knowledge of the product.  Yes, this will make your boss happy.  But the real benefit is further down the road.  Knowing how different materials fit and how they can be used to work for different people is a high level ability that recruiters demand.  Starting early will give you a natural eye for these things as you progress your career.

3.  Practice Your Sales Pitch

salesman, product

Life is sales.  Even if you don’t end up working in fashion or retail, sales skills will always be important.  Interacting with different types of customers to learn and understand their needs is what sales, and retail, is all about.  If you can create a relationship with your customer that will have them coming back with their friends, then you’re learning sales.

Even if you’re not a sales associate, providing excellent customer service and finding ways to drive the business will put you in the right mindset.  Being able to clearly get your message across will help you in any business.  Pay attention to your delivery and mannerisms – your customer’s reaction will let you know how you’re doing!

4.  Boost That Resume

You might think that a retail stock position looks bad on a resume, but it’s just the opposite. Hiring directors of any top brand knows how hectic those stores can be.  There’s a good chance they worked in one themselves.  Working in a retail store requires many skills that you can add to your resume.  Customer service, brand awareness, and process management are all keywords that recruiters look for.  Stats like “increased sales by 50% during a two month period” can speak volumes about your drive.  Taking the initiative to work in retail also says that you’re willing to work hard for what you want.  Learn everything you can from your job.  Write things down so you can reference them when you’re applying for your next position.

5.  Never Turn Down an Opportunity

This should apply to life in general, but it can be especially important when you’re trying to find your way into an industry.  You never know what can happen if you keep your options open.  This doesn’t mean that you have to cover your co-worker’s shift every time they ask. Manage your time wisely and be aware of any and all extra opportunities.  If you hear that they need someone for a couple overnight shifts at the new store, volunteer.  If nothing else, you’ll make a few extra dollars and become familiar with the new store’s layout and schedule.  When that store needs a manager, your extra effort will be rewarded.

Keep in mind, none of this will happen unless you want it to.  Take initiative and make it known that you want to learn and excel.  Don’t be afraid to speak up!  Retail is a very personal industry.  People want you to reach out and make them feel comfortable.  Creating good habits now will pay off when you’re applying for those internships and full-time positions at the top of the fashion industry.  Remember, everyone’s gotta start somewhere!

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