10 Things To Know To Get And Keep Retail Jobs

Access My FREE 5-Part Retail Sales Training Email Course!

Whether they’re looking for a retail sales job for the summer, a second job, or a new career, many people turn to jobs in retail while they look for other opportunities. Retail can be the best job for anyone - from college-age to past retirement - to develop their people skills. If you choose a job in retail, you have to be willing to be what the employer wants.

In my day, you didn’t have to know anything to be hired or to stay in retail. It didn’t matter then, but it certainly matters now.


It’s still true that retailers recognize that some employees may be short-term but they still demand an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. But now the retail world is much more competitive now than ever before.

If you are looking for a job in retail, or if are already working there, you need to understand you can’t get away with being just a warm body anymore. You need to see what you can give rather than get from your retail job.

10 Things You Need To Know To Hold A Job In Retail

Performance is Key – Retailers are notorious for judging every process and every employee on a variety of performance metrics. You’ll be no exception. In short, if you aren't justifying the cost of your pay, you will be let go.

The Customer is Always Your Customer – Retailers can’t afford to lose any customer since the cost of gaining them is so high. Customers should be treated with respect at all times. If they are being unreasonable, you should involve management rather than make it personal.

Go the Extra Yard – Simply put, the more valuable you become to your manager, the better shifts you'll get and the faster you will get a raise. Managers want problem solvers who can handle all the details of their job without being told or without having to answer your common-sense questions over and over.

Be on Time – No manager needs the aggravation of late employees; I’m saying that one minute is too late! That’s because the boss is already looking for you 15 minutes before you are to walk in the door. If you don’t show, they’ll either have to beg someone to stay later or work it themselves – neither of which works to your advantage. Being late is also an excellent way to alienate your co-workers who will be far less inclined to help you when you need a favor.

Don’t Gripe About the Hours – Most retailers require that you state your hours of availability when hired. Don’t complain if your hours fall within your stated guidelines. And don’t suddenly change your availability the week you get the job. If you said, “Any and all,” it means just that.

Be Flexible – Staying late or picking up the odd shift when asked is a great way to increase your hours and help your manager. You will also be the first person she or he thinks of for extra hours.

Don’t Be a Drag – Gossips and people who continually denigrate the retailer and its policies ruin it for everyone else. Not only are these mouthy bitches sub-par performers themselves, but they drag good co-workers down to their level. In short, don’t be the rotten apple.

Be a Team Player – Most retail locations run on a prescribed schedule of tasks and procedures. Pitch in with other coworkers to get these tasks accomplished, and you’ll be a valuable member of the team. Bonus points come if you encourage others to do their tasks without an attitude.

Respect the Rules – Don’t Cut Corners. Follow all company policies and procedures faithfully without being told. It saves everyone aggravation and will probably save your job if there is a problem. And follow instructions to the letter; don’t try to make them your own.

A Cut in Hours is a Sign – While business can be off, a cut in your hours most often means that your services are not considered that valuable. This is often the first sign that you will soon be “performance counseled” and, with no improvement, let go. Even if it’s slow, managers simply don’t cut the strong ones’ hours.

These are by no means everything you need to know if you get a job in retail, but these top ten should open your eyes if you think working retail is a walk in the park.

And while you should follow instructions carefully, never be afraid to make a creative suggestion that might be a boon to your store. Just make sure you don’t step out of bounds, do them on your own, and then expect congratulations.

Ask, suggest, get permission, then do.

Retailers, you might consider printing this out and handing it to potential applicants to make sure they are up to the challenge.Get More Selling Tips