How to Write a Retail CV
As a retail manager, supervisor, or retail assistant you really need to ensure your retail CV is a high quality document. This is because your business is concerned with sales and promotion - applying for a job with a CV that effectively sells you as a candidate shows immediately that you understand how important this is.
This is not an overstatement, as promotions in the retail business can happen faster than in other industries. At the same time, the best positions are often competed for. While your excellent performance and results are always crucial, a powerful retail manager CV or retail assistant CV will help to confirm the decision in the mind of an employer.
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Retail CV Profile
Your personal profile is positioned at the top of your retail CV and should consist of 3 to 6 lines that sum up why you're right for retail jobs. This means you need to focus on what retailing expertise you can offer, rather than what you would like to do. You need to show a prospective employer, or your current employer who is considering promoting you, that you really do have what it takes to fulfil the role.
If working your way up through the retail business, you need to reflect the additional responsibilities that come with management in your Retail Manager CV profile. Not only must you demonstrate your knowledge of the sector, but you must show that you have the appropriate leadership and management skills needed to take on the new role.
Your profile should create a strong initial impression in the employer's mind and will do much to distinguish you from other candidates. This means highlighting experience, skills and personal qualities that mark you out as a contender. Even a Retail Assistant CV needs to stand out, if you want to beat al the other candidates.
You can start by stating how many years' experience you have and in which area of retail. If you've recently emerged into the employment market after taking a relevant degree, you can commence by mentioning that you hold a relevant qualification.
Next, you can focus on the professional strengths that are most relevant to the role. Some of these will be evident to you if you worked your way up through sales jobs or Sales Assistant roles (see Sales Assistant CV) - customer service skills, numeracy and cash handling experience, a hardworking and tireless approach, and ability to take responsibility are all important.
CV writing services like Bradley CVs recommend that you present personal qualities that also add up to professional strengths on a retail CV. These are attributes that make you really good at your job.
People skills are already covered, so think about qualities such as being a strong communicator, being highly attentive to detail, being an efficient worker and multitasking, ambitious, etc.
Your profile is also a place where you can mention a single outstanding achievement, providing it is highly relevant to the vacancy. For example, if you have a track record of turning around declining outlets, this is worth mentioning here at the top of your CV.
Achievements on a Retail CV
Once your Retail CV profile has successfully captured the employer's attention, you need to further impress them with a series of 5 or 6 achievements.
These are instances where you have really made a difference through your personal contribution.
If you are producing a Retail Manager CV, identifying these should be a relatively straightforward process, but may be harder if you're preparing a Retail Assistant CV.
The best achievements can be quantified in numerical terms on a retail CV. This means measuring them in terms of profit, sales achieved, percentage increases, number of people in a team or department, targets exceeded, time saved, etc.
If you are able to demonstrate success in establishing sales, then you can write these up as achievements. Always specify whether you were a team leader or a member of a team - either is acceptable, but taking individual credit for a team effort is not.
Always be as specific as possible: state the number of times a sales target was exceeded and by how much; when deadlines were beaten, state by how many days; if customer traffic increased, state by how many and over what period.
Profitability is always the ultimate concern in a Retail Manager CV. As well as showing that you can achieve results, you need to show that you can analyse conditions and plan for good results. Be sure to mention strategies that you have developed to bring about successful outcomes.
If you are a supervisor, then profitability is also your concern, even though you are not ultimately responsible for the figures. Your role is concerned with establishing good performance from a team of staff, to ensure consistent levels of good customer service. Your achievements need to highlight your ability to lead a team, delegate effectively and work well under pressure of challenging situations.
If you are a recent graduate, you can refer to placements, secondments or projects you undertook during your period of study. It's important to show that you were able to apply the knowledge you gained in a retail environment. If you received special commendation for any contribution or work completed during your degree - vocational or academic - then this can also be included as an achievement.
Take your time in writing achievements that will show you are an outstanding retail management prospect. If the employer isn't convinced by the time they've read this first page of your retail CV, the second page will not even get read. You can tailor the profile and achievements for each vacancy you apply for, so as to create maximum impact with a targeted document.
Career History on Your Retail CV
While your career history is essentially a record of your previous jobs, it has a more important function in your retail CV: to show the employer how you've performed and developed at work in the past (and in your current job), and how you might be able to contribute through your next role.
It's important that an employer can see how your past experience enables you to see the whole picture when it comes to a retail management CV, so that you are able to determine the best approach to success. For this reason, your career history is far more than a series of excerpts from your previous job descriptions.
For a start, you only need to include details about positions you've held within the last 10 years on a Retail Manager CV or a Retail Assistant CV. Any experience prior to that is likely to be outdated, given the technological developments that have changed the industry, as well as major market shifts in various sectors.
On a single line, list your job title, the employer's name and inclusive dates of employment. Beneath each entry, you need to write 5 to 6 sentences describing your responsibilities, with each marked by a bullet point.
Each area of responsibility should be written up as if it's an achievement, using active language to emphasise your active involvement. Always describe what you did, rather than what your job description stated you should do.
This is your opportunity to really show the breadth of your experience, as well as provide evidence of how you applied your experience, knowledge and skills in the retail environment to achieve meaningful outcomes on your retail CV. Even if your responsibilities were similar in different jobs, avoid repetition and instead write each up in a different way.
Use the job description for the vacancy to inform you on how to angle these bullet points, so that your CV for retail jobs is targeted towards each individual position you apply for. Depending on the role you're pursuing, your career history should show evidence of some or all of the following management functions: staff supervision, finance and budgets, strategic planning, decision-making, analysis and evaluation, promotion and merchandising, etc.
You should continue to mention your personal strengths throughout the career history - these are generally 'soft skills' which will make your application more individual and memorable. Whenever you mention effective time management, proposal and report writing skills, your ability to respond calmly in a crisis or easily prioritising workloads, etc., you are reassuring the employer that your time will be used productively.
Retail CV Qualifications and Training
Commence this section with your highest qualification. If this is a business, business management or retail management degree (or foundation degree), list the degree's title, the institution where you studied and the date you completed your studies.
Add the class of degree you achieved too. If you completed this recently, include brief details of secondments or projects you undertook.
This is important on a Retail Manager CV, especially management level qualifications and training. Whilst on a Retail Assistant CV training on selling specific products and services may be essential.
If you are taking or have taken a Foundation, Higher or Advanced Diploma in Retail Business for 14 to 19 year olds, then write this up in the same way. State where you have been doing your vocational experience as well.
If you have previously taken NVQs/SVQs that are relevant, these can be listed too on your retail CV. There is no need to mention your schooling to the age of 16 years unless you have no later qualifications to list.
Include any retail training under a separate subheading. If these were short in-house courses, group them together rather than listing them all separately. If they were 2-3 day courses delivered by an external training provider, then list them in the same way as your academic qualifications, with each on a single line.
Other pages to visit if you're in retail:
- Want to improve your retail CV? Our professional CV writers have extensive experience in producing retail CVs that get our clients the job interviews they desire.
- CV Examples
- Free CV Review
- Retail Jobs
- Sales Jobs
- Sales Assistant CV
- Sales Manager CV
- Sales Executive CV
- Sales Director CV
- Executive CV
- Management CV
- Marketing Manager CV
- Finance Manager CV / Finance Director CV
- Managing Director CV
- Management Jobs
- Marketing Jobs