Climbing the career ladder in retail can be daunting. 2.9 million people in the UK alone are employed in retail jobs, and this figure is set to rise to 3.3 million by as early as 2017. In such a heavily saturated sector, getting ahead is a fiercely contended struggle.
The plain fact is that the majority of retail jobs are at entry level. For every senior position, a vast pool of ambitious candidates are rushing to apply. And contrary to inaccurate assumptions, these candidates are far from unskilled and poorly educated. 89% of the retail workforce hold qualifications, with 38% having an NVQ level 3 or higher qualification. The result is a highly skilled workforce fighting it out for a handful of senior roles.
If you want to be one of the 18% of retail staff in a management or senior official position, you need to stand out from the crowd. And doing so is more straightforward than you’d imagine.
As obvious as it may sound, retail jobs tend to have a high staff turnover, with employees leaving and starting in high volumes. Due to this turnover, you have to work hard to earn the trust of management. If you’re always early, reliable and hard-working, you’ll soon make a name for yourself in the company as someone who has long-term plans.
Work with your managers rather than for them
Retail jobs aren’t just about following orders. Yes, managers will want to see that you can follow instruction well, but they also want to work with bright employees who take initiative and make suggestions. Get to know the senior team and ask them questions. If they have a special request, show them that you’re flexible and unafraid of extra responsibilities.
Perfect your customer service
Success in retail is all about your ability to create a great customer experience. If you wow customers, you’ll wow your bosses. Retail has a reputation for a bad customer service due to the painfully apparent nature of any lack of enthusiasm. If you’re disengaged, it’s not only your customers who will able to tell, but also the people above you.
Retail jobs are highly visual. If you present a well-groomed, professional image, people around you will automatically feel more confident about dealing with you. Dressing like somebody who’s headed for the top will make you much more likely to get there.
Engage with your co-workers
These could be the people you’re leading when you’ve climbed the career ladder. You need a strong rapport with the team so that they trust you and are happy to work with you. Be the person that everyone values for their friendliness as well as their strong work ethic.
Show that you want to learn new things and progress as much as you can. Almost every retail outlet offers staff training to help upskill the workforce. Even if you’re not learning anything new, your participation shows your enthusiasm and growth ambitions.
Retail jobs pay anywhere between minimum wage to £45k+. Following these steps makes moving up through the pay bands possible, but you have to be the driving force behind the climb.