Making Your Retail Soft Skills Work as a Sales Associate
by Kristin Vegh
Looking for a job in the retail field? When reviewing your resume, the focus may land on your employment history. Although an impressive list of previous positions can certainly work in your favor, it's important you don't overlook something just as crucial: soft skills.
So, what exactly are soft skills, and how are they applicable to skills for retail sales associates?
Soft skills are personal attributes that exemplify your aptitude for a given task. Having a strong work ethic, thriving in teamwork situations, and being a fast learner are all examples of soft skills. These are critical skills for retail sales associates, and they can be used to your advantage during every step of the hiring process.
Examples of soft skills for retail sales
There are many soft skills hiring managers look for when hiring sales associates. Here are a few examples as a starting point:
- Customer service: One of the most important skills for sales workers is customer service. These skills are what create customer satisfaction — and impact whether a customer will return or leave a bad review on Yelp. Your ability to diffuse difficult customer situations, display empathy, and listen carefully to questions and concerns are invaluable in retail jobs.
- Attention to detail: From managing inventory to making sure displays are appealing to shoppers, your ability to have a keen eye for all of the fine points is critical to success in retail roles. Returning the wrong change or leaving empty shelves can lead to lower sales — exactly what you're trying to avoid.
- Communication: Your ability to be positive, helpful and clear in oral and written communications will be a great asset in retail roles. Not only does it simplify interactions with customers, being a strong communicator will help you be a strong member of your team and put you in line for future promotion.
Other key soft skills include business savviness, literacy and numeracy, technology aptitude, selling and persuading. Spend some time thinking about your experience and what kind of skills you can bring to each role. Then, think about these three ways to showcase your retail soft skills:
1. Introduce soft skills in your resume
First, you'll need to determine which of the three key resume formats will be most effective to present your skills and experience. Regardless of which format you choose, the skills section is usually one of the first sections a hiring manager will notice on your retail resume. The skills you include should be clearly written and customized to each job description using the exact words and phrases found in the job ad to make a strong connection between your skills and the position's requirements.
When presented correctly, your list of skills will provide a compelling snapshot of your strengths as a potential employee. Our Resume Builder can help you craft an attention-grabbing skills section (as well as all other key resume sections). Remember to keep your list of skills concise. Think of them as jumping-off points that you'll further elaborate on in your well-written cover letter (and hopefully, in the interview).
2. Incorporate soft skills into your cover letter
Your cover letter presents an opportunity to explain in a narrative format why you're the perfect fit for the position. If you've read up on the five parts of an effective cover letter, you know that the body paragraphs can be used to explain how your skills and accomplishments tie to the position, and make you the best candidate for the position.
Like with your resume, you'll want to personalize each cover letter and highlight the key specific skills and applicant requirements highlighted in the job description. Keep in mind that for every example of work experience you list, it's critical that you follow up with what skills you applied to each position.
Anyone who's worked in retail knows it requires teamwork and flexibility. These are excellent retail soft skills to write about in your cover letter. Highlight the ways in which you utilized these skills in previous positions to great effect. If you're unsure on how to get started with your letter, our Cover Letter Templates can assist you.
3. Demonstrate soft skills in your interview
It's one thing to present your abilities in writing. Doing so in a face-to-face meeting, however, poses new challenges. It's easy to be thrown off by a tough question when you're nervous. If you get tripped up, put your soft skills into play.
Your interviewer will likely inquire as to what skills you bring as a retail sales associate. If your work history is a little light or doesn't include much retail experience, focusing on your soft skills is an excellent way to connect your experience with what the hiring manager is looking for.
Do you have strong multi-tasking skills? Are you a quick learner? Are your time management skills top-notch? These are all highly desirable soft skills. Most likely, your professional and academic background will include plenty of suitable examples of these valued skills.
To succeed as a retail sales associate, the most important attributes you should possess are enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Add these to your arsenal of retail soft skills and you're sure to make a great first impression. Our Resume Templates and Cover Letter Examples can assist you in creating a retail resume and cover letter that will help you stand out from the sea of applicants and land you the job.