Landing a Job as a Retail Sales Representative: How to Sell Yourself
As a retail sales representative, it's your job to be the face your shop, assist customers and sell products. You're part of one of the largest industries in the U.S. and among the over 15 million people working in retail.
So, how do you show a prospective employer that you're the ideal candidate for selling their products and services? By selling them on YOU.
Are you just beginning your career as a retail sales associate? Looking to upgrade to a better position with higher pay and better benefits? No matter what your goal is, your resume needs to highlight the key attributes an employer looks for when filling a retail sales associate position.
These seven valuable tips from sales experts will help you craft a standout resume that makes retail employers take notice:
1. Hone your communication and people skills
Being a "people person" is critical to a retail sales associate job. According to Lauren McAdams, a career adviser and hiring manager, your interpersonal skills will teach you to interface effectively with customers and make the sale.
"At the very least, any hiring manager will want to see that you can interact with customers in a pleasant, polite manner," McAdams says. "Make sure you emphasize this throughout your resume experience section as well as your skills section."
2. Show passion for the products you're selling
Seek out retail sales jobs where you can sell what you're passionate about. If you're a hiking enthusiast who's applying to work at an outdoor recreation store, let your knowledge and enthusiasm shine in your cover letter (which you can write using a cover letter template). Even if you don't know all the technical attributes of a product, do a little research and express why you're interested in the company's products or services. You can always learn the specifics once you're on the job, but your upfront eagerness and interest will score you extra points.
3. Include any upselling experience
It may seem easy to sell a product, but your job as a retail sales representative is also to be able to upsell. Upselling means introducing customers to higher-end or upgraded versions of the items they're already considering for purchase. McAdams says it's crucial to include any upselling experience you may have.
"The most important thing to the manager at any given retail company is whether or not you can make sales. They want to know that you have what it takes to hit the numbers they want, and they want your efforts to boost company profit margins. Give them what they want and demonstrate what you've accomplished at previous jobs."
4. Use specific metrics to sell your achievements
Backing up your retail sales experience with clear metrics can set you apart from the competition. Dawn D. Boyer, Ph.D., CEO of D. Boyer Consulting, says to consider these questions as you craft your resume and prepare for interviews:
- What were the average sales for each customer coming through the checkout line?
- How many clients did you serve per hour or shift?
- How many customers did you assist on the sales floor in a given day?
- How much merchandise did you set up or shelve per day, week or month?
- What are your personal sales records selling higher ticket items for retail environments?
5. Highlight your language skills
Though it may not be a job requirement, knowing another language can make you a desirable candidate for a retail sales job, McAdams points out. Spanish and Mandarin Chinese are two of the most in-demand languages in retail today.
"Making a sale is all about communication," says McAdams. "If you're conversational in more than one language, that can be an easy way to impress the hiring manager."
6. Share a personal story that shows you went above and beyond
When you draft a cover letter to go along with your resume, make sure it includes these five critical components:
- Body paragraphs
Your retail sales resume is a great way to highlight your skills and career milestones, but it can't communicate specific stories or experiences. That's where your cover letter comes in.
Ehren Hopper, owner of Dragon Imports and Collectibles in San Antonio, Texas, encourages retail applicants to share a real-life example of their retail skills and experiences.
"[Include] a concise story in which you went above and beyond for a customer, client or manager," says Hopper. Connect your actions and skills to the job for which you're applying.
7. Use clear, logical formatting
Highlighting your retail sales associate skills on your resume is essential, and getting the correct formatting down is key, too (check out our Resume Formats page for help here). When learning how to write a resume, keep in mind that it must contain the five most essential resume components:
- Contact information (Note: due to recent privacy issues, we no longer recommend including your mailing address)
- Summary statement of your skills and experience
- Work history
- Skills section
There's one more thing to keep in mind when crafting your resume and cover letter. Many employers now use applicant tracking systems (ATS) when reviewing resumes. These systems automatically scan resumes to find relevant keywords that match those in their job description. When updating your retail sales resume and cover letter, be sure to include the most prominent keywords from the job description and customize each resume and cover letter to include them for each job – every time.
Ready to sell a hiring manager on choosing you from among the qualified candidates? Our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder take the guesswork out of the application process, with step-by-step guidance and built-in formatting. These tools will have you on your way to a successful job as a retail sales representative in no time.