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Andrew Arkley|August 19, 2020

How To Write A Stand-Out Retail CV

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Wondering how to write a stand-out retail CV? 

Your typical CV objective is to be successful in landing you a specific job. When the goal is a retail job, it’s necessary to know how to write a retail CV.

A CV for a retail job differs from one for an office-based role, as it needs to be largely focussed on customer service skills and sales skills.

The retail industry is often quite competitive, with retail roles being highly sought after, especially in big cities. 

With COVID-19 resulting in the closure of thousands of stores, UK retail vacancies plummeted by almost 80% in the first month of the pandemic, and while recovery is making steady progress, there’s still an abundance of candidates vying for the same position.

Your retail CV needs to grab the attention of hiring managers and secure you an interview, where you’ll have the opportunity to show off your key skills.

Read on for how to write a good retail CV, including how specifically to write a retail sales assistant CV and a retail manager CV.

How is a retail CV different from a general CV?

Good retail CV examples will include a few of your hard and soft skills, while also focusing on your people skills and experience in the retail sector.

Depending on the retail position you’re applying for, the hiring manager will probably be looking for a retail CV that shows the candidate can handle the key responsibilities and technical skills that the job requires. 

Rather than qualifications, emphasise any relevant skills, key achievements, professional experience, or excellent customer service skills that you possess.

Qualifications can help, but it’s possible to work your way up in this industry. 

You need to catch the employer’s eye straight away, so a reverse chronological CV where your most recent experience is listed first may be best if your most recent roles are in retail.

Retail hiring managers tend to receive CVs in this format, so you’ll make it easy for them to read.

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What qualities do I need to work in retail?

The key skills you want to include in the skills section of your retail CV, include:

  • Patience – Working in retail can mean intense contact with people on a daily basis. You’ll need patience to deal with repetitive customer queries and agitated clients.
  • Resilience – You’ll need to be resilient to deal with trying interactions on the shop floor. 
  • Adaptability – Retail environments often require a lot of moving around departments wherever there is demand.
  • Problem-solving – One of the most essential skills, you’ll need to think on your feet to resolve problems and respond to questions from customers.
  • People skills – You’ll need to be able to converse and communicate well with both customers and your colleagues. 
  • Positivity – You’ll need to remain positive when responding to multiple demands and put on a happy face for customers, even when tired and stressed.
  • Prioritisation – With multiple demands, you’ll need to be able to make effective decisions when prioritising tasks.

By carefully reading a job description, you’ll be able to identify the retail skills needed. Be sure to include some of those in your retail CV. 

Retail CV personal statement

Underneath your name and personal data (email, phone and address), you need a personal profile.

A retail CV personal statement is a few lines to summarise your relevant experience and employment history.  

Look at the job description of the specific role you’re applying for and ensure you mention a few of the points in your personal statement if applicable.

Good retail CV examples should give recruiters a basic understanding of who you are, your transferable skills and your career goals. 

For example, if the job advert mentions you’ll be working on the tills, try to mention any sales skills or previous sales associate experience in your personal statement. 

Remember, recruiters only look at CVs for an average of 7 seconds, so you need to catch their eye immediately.

Try to keep your personal summary to two or three lines of text to prevent waffling.

Sometimes it helps to leave the personal summary until last, when you’ve finished writing your retail CV, so you can pick out the strongest points.

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Applying with no retail experience

Although it can be tricky applying for jobs with no experience to show on your CV, becoming a retail sales assistant is a position you can easily work towards.

You need to think of skills you’ve gained in other areas of life that may be relevant to the role. 

For example, if you’ve done volunteering or extracurricular activities that involved interacting with people, this would be useful to note.

Simply volunteering as a sales assistant at a charity shop can go a long way. 

It looks great on your CV and demonstrates that you have experience relevant to retail, such as operating tills and working with stock.

If you have no previous experience in retail, ensure you express your genuine interest and willingness to learn on your retail CV and cover letter.

Remember to include the contact details of any of your previous employers for referral purposes.

How to show off retail experience on a CV – the power of numbers

If you do have retail experience – great! 

This will look even more impressive if you can back up your experience with some figures.

For example, rather than saying that you’ve trained new employees, mention how many employees you’ve successfully trained.

If you rearranged a store and sales subsequently increased by 50%, mention it.

How to write a CV for retail – the essentials

Keep your retail CV format clean and easy to read – use classic fonts like Arial or Verdana so that your CV looks professional and doesn’t distract from the content on it.

Present your experience in bullet points to keep your CV template efficient. 

Use ‘I’ and action verbs like ‘I accomplished’, ‘I managed’ and ‘I operated’ to show you had the agency when completing the tasks.

For example, follow the below retail CV template: 

Shop Assistant 

Waitrose  |  London  |  March 2019 – March 2020

  • I operated the welcome desk at the front of the store, greeting customers warmly as they entered the branch, giving directions to parts of the store, and handling customer complaints and queries.
  • I also managed the meat and fish counter. This involved setting up the display in the morning by portioning the products, disinfecting the surfaces and labelling the meats and fish neatly and clearly.

Don’t waffle – keep the CV down to two pages or less. Cut out unnecessary words or points that are weaker than others.

Cut out information that’s not as useful for the role you’re applying to.

Create your CV in Word format and either send the document as a Word file, or export to PDF format to ‘freeze’ your formatting in place.

Retail Assistant CV

Include your hobbies and interests on your CV if you think this shows off your personality, or if it matches the retailer you’re applying to.

For example, if you’re applying for an outdoor clothing shop, it may help to show you’re interested in camping and the outdoors. 

retail cv

Retail Manager CV

In your retail manager CV, you’ll need to show you can manage people effectively, while balancing multiple tasks simultaneously.

Quantifying this will help if you can get some facts and figures from your work experience.

You’ll need to emphasise your people skills, problem-solving skills and traits that  show you can handle great responsibility.

Sales Assistant CV

Your CV needs to show that you’re persuasive, so you’ll need to sell yourself on your CV like you would a product. 

Your personality needs to shine through in your CV, so a template is not going to cut it.

Quantify your successful previous sales with figures. You’ll also need to show how you’ve met or exceeded sales targets in the past.

How to write CVs for retail jobs: Conclusion

Jobs in retail are often sought-after, so you need a CV that’s going to set you apart.

Showcase your key achievements, hard and soft skills, and show that you have what it takes to exceed in any role. 

From sales assistant jobs, to managerial positions – don’t shy away from your career goals. 

If you’re still unsure, look up different examples of retail CVs for more inspiration.

Don’t throw away your dream job by making the mistake of using a generic retail CV. Why not let us write you a bespoke professionally written retail CV?

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