What to Look for in a Resume When Hiring for Retail

Drew Whitehurst | July 12, 2021

It's essential that you know exactly the type of candidate you are looking to hire and the skills they should possess.

Mark Twain once said, “Reports of the death of in-store retailing are greatly exaggerated.” And as the world comes out of the pandemic, the reports of consumer behaviors exclusively prioritizing online shopping experiences are also exaggerated. In fact, a recent survey highlights that even though 55% of participants are making online purchases more frequently as a result of COVID (who isn’t), 28% of them still expect to increase their in-store shopping post-pandemic.

As consumers start to pull out those shopping bags, it’s time for all retailers, from mom-and-pop shops to corporations, to ramp up hiring and weed through the stack of resumes that is sure to pile up. Now is the best time to make sure your retail stores are staffed with the very best team of retail employees.

And to help you do just that, we put together a list of what to look for in a resume as a retail employer to help you get started! (P.S. It’s also important for you to take care of your existing team members so check out this blog to get 4 tips to reduce employee turnover in retail.)

I spy with my little eye…the ideal retail resume

It’s essential that you know exactly the type of candidate you are looking to hire and the skills they should possess. While a resume should never be the end-all and be-all, it can give you a lot of information about your candidates like their strengths, weaknesses, and whether they have experience demonstrating the traits of a rockstar retail employee.

So as you sit down to review your stack of retail applicants, keep these three questions in mind to make sure you hire the right people for your team – after all, retail employees are your brand in the customers’ eyes.

  1. In today’s environment, what skills are other retail employers looking for?
  2. What words do candidates use on their resumes to showcase these skills?
  3. What should not be included in the resume of a retail candidate?

1. In today’s environment, what skills are other retail employers looking for?

Your short list of most valuable retail skills are attention to detail, customer service, communication, and ability to learn. If you have retail resumes that highlight these top skills, be sure to place them on top of the pile.

  • Attention to detail: these skills will easily stand out in a resume. Just ask yourself if the resume you are reviewing is neat, lacking spelling and grammatical errors, and has a professional layout made up of coherent sections (i.e. education, previous experience, skills, awards, etc.). If the candidate pays attention to detail in their resume, there is a good chance they will do the same on the job.
  • Customer service: excellent customer service translates into loyalty and repeat customers. As we mentioned before, your employees and the experience your customers have with them is what makes up your brand. Be on the lookout for candidates that make an effort to showcase previous experience providing great customer service.
  • Communication: communication is always listed as one of the most important soft skills for employees and that is only highlighted in the retail sector. Your retail employees will be interacting with your customers and other team members on a daily basis, so it’s important for them to be able to communicate succinctly and effectively. Like with customer service skills, be on the lookout for candidates that showcase the application of these skills throughout their experience.
  • Ability to learn: retailers that will thrive post-pandemic will offer a hybrid shopping experience. One made up of unique in-store experiences that create a strong pull to draw shoppers in as well as smooth online experiences that connect customers with your offering at the touch of a button. This means that your employees will need to learn new skills and adapt based on the type of interaction they’re having with customers.

2. What words do candidates use on their resumes to showcase the top retail skills?

As the retail recruiter or hiring manager, look for words that indicate whether the candidate will be a good fit for the job and highlight the valuable soft and interpersonal skills mentioned above. Several of these words include:

  • Problem solving
  • Friendliness
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility
  • Positive attitude

It’s important to note that you should be aware that some candidates will use these words to fill in and stuff their resume with applicable buzzwords. So how do you make up for that? Look for candidates who not only use these buzzwords in their resume but also include specific scenarios or situations in which they used these skills in their previous jobs.

Your retail employees need to be all of these things (and more) to be strong contributors to your team and culture. When you come across a resume that uses these words and showcases these skills in action, be sure to reach out quickly and get the potential candidate started with your interview process. (P.S. Do you have tens or hundreds of resumes that stick out? Use on-demand interviews to speed up your screening process and give your top candidates an opportunity to stand out even more.)

3. What should not be included in the resume of a retail candidate?

We could easily create a list of about 50 things that should not be included on a resume. Instead, we will highlight our top three picks – and yes, candidates really do include these on their resumes.

  1. Generic objective statements: vague statements are a waste of space and time. You do not want to read statements like “looking for an opportunity to utilize my skills.” It does not give you any relevant information like whether or not the candidate is a good fit for the role or if they possess any necessary skills or qualifications.
  2. Multiple phone numbers: Too many phone numbers only causes confusion. Recruiters and hiring managers do not have the available time to be making multiple attempts to reach a potential hire.
  3. Headshots: unless you are hiring an actor for a TV commercial, you can avoid the resumes with headshots. Not only do they lend themselves to conscious and unconscious bias, they also point to a lack of critical thinking and judgement skills.

Find the best retail employees today

Your employees are the face of your business, so you need to make every attempt to get it right. It all starts at the very beginning stages of your recruitment process and moving the right resumes forward is the first step. Although your stack of resumes may seem daunting, you can move through them quickly and efficiently if you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for.

When you find the right retail employees, you reduce turnover and increase your positive customer experiences. And when you ace those things, your customers will keep coming back, day after day, because nothing beats great customer service.

To learn more about retail staffing video interview software and how it can help you find, hire and retain the best retail employees, chat with one of our experts today!

About The Author

Drew Whitehurst is the Director of Marketing at interviewstream. He's been with the company since 2014 working in client services and marketing. He is an analytical thinker, coffee enthusiast, and hobbyist at heart.


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