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How to Write the Perfect Retail Job Resume That Gets You Hired

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Key Points

  • Understanding what to include on your resume, and what to avoid
  • Important skills you should highlight when applying for retail jobs
  • How to format your resume to stand out for recruiters


If you’ve spent some time scouring the internet for resume advice, you’ve probably stumbled on at least a dozen tips. Although your resume is only one part of your career search process, it serves as the first point of contact you make with any hiring manager. Your chance of getting a job can rely on this one piece of paper.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the retail industry currently employs at least 4.6 million workers, and it’s projected to show little or no change until 2029. Whether you’re looking to get an entry-level sales person position or land a retail manager or store manager position, there’s certainly a spot for you in the retail industry.

Read on for strategies that can help make your retail resume stand out.

Start Your Resume With an Experience Section

If you’re looking to move up in retail and have years of experience to list, it’s best to present your work experiences in reverse-chronological order starting from your current position and working your way back. Make sure each job entry includes your title, the company you worked for, and the month and year you first or last held a particular position. Describe your duties and achievements in short bullet points.

Overall, here’s what you should include on your resume:

  • Your contact information
  • A work experience section where you list and describe your relevant work history
  • An education section
  • A skills section where you can emphasize your strengths
  • An accomplishments section where you can mention your interests, awards, or certifications

If you’re a job seeker who’s new to the workforce and have no retail experience, consider these tips in writing your entry-level retail resume:

  • Use a functional resume format to highlight your skill set
  • Talk about your transferable skills and what you have to offer
  • Mention your unique capabilities – are you bilingual or do you sew your own clothes?

Write Professional Resume Job Descriptions

Instead of listing what your day-to-day activities looked like during your previous employment, quantify and use numbers to describe your responsibilities whenever you can. Use action words, such as “provided,” “managed,” “stocked,” and “processed” to represent your experiences in an energetic way.

For instance, instead of:

Retail Sales Associate, Appleberry Clothing Store

Mar 2019 – Mar 2020

  • Greeted new customers
  • Assisted customers with shopping
  • Assisted with the inventory

Try this on your resume:

Retail Sales Associate, Appleberry Clothing Store

Mar 2019 – Mar 2020

  • Provided courteous customer service and exceeded sales goal by up to 20% every month
  • Maintained visual merchandising standards to enhance customer experience
  • Processed sales transactions efficiently and accurately

If you’re worried that you don’t have enough retail experience or accomplishments to create an impressive resume, emphasize your relevant skills. Skills like communication, interpersonal skills, and sales experience are important in a retail environment. Think about when you displayed these skills and include them in your resume.

Here’s a list of retail skills your potential employer is looking for:

  • Attention to detail. Retail employees need a keen eye for detail to ensure customers leave with the right item, know when the shelves need restocking, and display products in an appealing way.
  • Communication skills. Good communication skills not only include the ability to talk to customers, suppliers, and other employees, but they also include active listening. This means listening to what a customer wants or needs and helping them as best you can.
  • Customer service skills. This includes being open and friendly as you make recommendations, help customers make purchases, or resolve issues or complaints.
  • Basic computer skills. You might be expected to operate a cash register, credit card processor, or POS system (point of sale). You might also have to use a management information system to analyze purchasing and other consumer trends.
  • Math skills. As a retail worker, you’ll need to do basic math for cash handling, calculating prices, adding up discounts, counting inventory, and more.
  • Product knowledge. To sell products or services, you need to understand the goals of the business you work for, the products you sell, and the customers who purchase those products.
  • Sales. You must want to sell. You need to learn how to effectively convince customers that the products you’re selling are worth their money.
  • People management. This is an important skill for retail workers in any supervisory capacity, which includes scheduling and hiring, managing, and engaging people. People management encompasses assessing individuals’ strengths and weaknesses, maximizing the team’s strengths, and handling conflicts.

Don’t forget that you can add volunteering, schooling, or internship experience to your resume, as well. Maybe you majored in merchandising in college, organized a bottle drive to fund a school trip, or sold the most Girl Scout cookies ever. Those are worth mentioning, too.

Use Keywords Relevant to the Position

If you’re directed to apply online, your resume’s first reader could be a software called the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The hiring manager will input the job description to the ATS, then the ATS will scan your resume for relevant words and advance your application to the next stage if it finds enough keywords. This is all done before a human even gets to read your resume.

This is why you must tailor the content of your resume to the keywords or phrasing included in the description of the job posting. But don’t just submit a resume with a collection of keywords. Match keywords by describing your experiences and qualifications in a way that makes sense and separates you from other applicants.

There are certain keywords every hiring manager wants to see on a retail resume. For an entry-level retail position, you’d want to make sure you talk about your verbal communication skills, teamwork, attention to detail, computer skills, and problem-solving abilities. For senior positions, you’d want to include customer service experience, POS software experience, budgeting, managing teams, merchandising, and inventory management.

Format Your Resume Properly

Making your resume stand out doesn’t mean an overly artistic font that’s difficult to read or a format that’s hard to follow. Hiring managers or recruiters spend an average of seven seconds per resume before deciding if it goes in the discard pile or is worthy of an interview. Keep your resume easy to read by using a lot of white space.

Follow these guidelines for a properly formatted retail resume:

  • Set at least a 1-inch margin on all sides
  • Set your text to an 11- or 12-point font
  • Create sections and use headings in your resume for readability
  • Use fonts that are two to four points larger for your headings
  • Stick to single-line spacing
  • Save your resume in PDF format if there are no specific application requirements

Check resume builders, Microsoft Word, or Canva for resume examples and professional resume templates, then be sure to incorporate our suggestions above. Avoid long sentences or paragraphs, use bold titles and bullet points, and leave plenty of white space.

Additional Retail Job Resume Writing Tips

  • Add more flavor to your resume by including sections like languages, certifications, or interests.
  • Always double-check for errors and misspellings. You may also ask a friend or family member to review your resume.
  • Include a compelling cover letter with your resume. On your cover letter, don’t repeat the information you’ve mentioned on your resume. This is the perfect opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Tell the hiring manager why you want to work for the company and what you can bring to help the business grow.

Take advantage of social media and consider creating a LinkedIn account that can act as your online resume. You can utilize your profile to engage with hiring managers and snag an interview for hidden jobs (those that are available but aren’t posted publicly).

Find Your Ideal Retail Job With Joblist

Landing a retail job is about consistency, persistence, and confidence. Take a thoughtful approach and implement some of the strategies discussed above, such as focusing on past experiences, tailoring your resume for the role, and creating a professional online presence.

When you’ve done your part, seek a partner to help you find the perfect role. At Joblist, we combine postings from the leading job boards so you can see available opportunities in one place. Use our search tool to see personalized results, set up daily alerts, and be the first to apply to new job postings.

We also invite you to explore our resources and guides filled with career advice for any industry. You’ll find helpful articles, from writing a cover letter to job market reports.

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