How To Make A Retail Job Look Good On Your CV

As a student, it can be rather deflating if you only have retail experience to your name. In fact, it means that you have real work experience – something few grads can boast. Through your retail job, you have acquired skills that employers are looking for.

Never feel that you have to make a retail job look good on your CV; it makes you look good just by being there! By having retail experience to draw upon, you have already put yourself ahead of the crowd.


Skills you will have learned from working in your retail job

You will have picked up a whole plethora of skills working in your retail job that you weren’t even aware of, including:

  • Customer service/communication skills
  • Time management and responsibility
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Sales
  • Computing (inventory and transactional)

Here’s how to expand on those skills in your CV.


Customer service/communication skills

The customer is always right.

During your retail job, you will have been polite, helpful and courteous without even realising it. These skills may have been developed by aiding customers to find what they are looking for, remaining positive when they have a query and solving other problems for them.

Consider other aspects of your customer service interaction and your communication skills too.

  • Were you working at busy times of the year?
  • Did you have to operate under pressure?
  • What steps did you take to ensure that customer service was always your priority?

Describe yourself on your CV as a clear and confident communicator, someone who is able to problem solve whilst ensuring customer satisfaction. Draw on your learned ability to negotiate, influence decisions and persuade in your CV. All of these are key skills that feature heavily on the majority of recruiters’ wish lists.


Time management and responsibility

Recruiters want candidates who are efficient, able to meet deadlines and capable of prioritising what needs doing to ensure nothing is missed. If your retail job was part-time, highlight this. It shows that you’re able to fit your job around your other commitments and still get everything done, thus managing your time effectively.

A part-time retail job is a great way of displaying that you are a self-starter, someone with drive and a thirst to succeed. Recruiters don’t want someone who has to be coerced into doing their job and cajoled daily to get the simplest of tasks completed. They want someone they know they can rely on, who is responsible and trustworthy. If you were able to heave yourself out of bed on a Saturday morning after a hard week at university, you certainly fit the bill.



How many times did you fix up something on the shop floor? Dress and redress the mannequins in the front window to make them as visually appealing to customers as possible?

This is all great advertising experience. You have learned to take a product and sell it to the customer. Describe your role on your CV as a ‘sales representative’ or ‘agent’, because this is what you were doing when you were capturing the attention of potential customers.



Retail is a results-focused industry. Draw on your experience here and flaunt your ability to grow sales. You have witnessed first-hand how a commercial business works. You have experienced the fast pace of the commercial world, and you will have had some input into decision making along the way. Use it.

Consider the following questions:

  • What made the business a viable one and how did you aid in its profitability?
  • What ideas did you come up with to boost sales?
  • Were they used?
  • Do you have quantifiable results that you can talk about?
  • Did you bring in £X or grow the customer base by Y amount?



You didn’t just ring through the transactions on the till. You learned how to use the business’ computing software. You will have had to use the point of sales systems, take an inventory and place orders when necessary. You have therefore supplied the company with the data they need to interpret sales information and analyse trends.

You didn’t simply restock the shelves, you understood what was necessary, in a timely manner, to evaluate customer needs and meet them. If it required you to stay after hours, include it on your CV. Your dedication to the job is something that recruiters will be very keen to see.

Finally, every job that you have had has brought you to where you are today. The skills they have impressed on you are not to be ignored or played down. They are skills that are desirable in the business world. Learn how to sell them effectively and you’ll vastly increase your chances of an interview.


CV-Library is the UK’s leading independent job board. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.