You may have heard that retail is the “accidental profession”. Some have entered the retail workforce by accident, literally stumbling into a retail cashier or customer service job. Many people enter it part-time to earn “pocket money, to get out of the house, to relieve the boredom.” Others have used jobs in retail to fund their university educations or support their families. I consider retail my “gateway job”. Gateway to what you may wonder. For me, retail was the gateway to a world of new skills, experiences and learning opportunities. Allow me to explain.
Immediately following my sales and marketing training, I started work for a leader in the confectionary industry as a sales representative where I called on wholesale and retail outlets. It was a little hard to fathom at first that the candy business is a multi-million dollar business. As I called upon the major retail chains and independent businesses, I learned many aspects of their business. Several years later and after several jobs in different industries, I found myself working for a large BC retailer. This was when my career accelerated because I gained many new skills and experiences that have cumulatively guided my career and has enabled me to pursue several other jobs in the retail sector and careers in other industries.
My retail store level sales and management jobs taught me:
- how to provide customer service, develop conflict resolution skills and allowed me to perfect my interpersonal and communication skills. I learned to solve problems for customers.
- how to manage inventory management, customer preferences, business operating procedures, health and safety
- how to lead and work as an integral member of diverse team with common goals
- how to manage a multi-million retail business with sales, inventory, and payroll targets
- how to recruit, train and coach staff to achieve business objectives personal goals
- how to implement head office directives and how to manage projects
My head office experiences as a purchaser, ERP systems tester/trainer, policy analyst jobs taught me:
- how to negotiate large purchases to meet the strategic product plans that helped the company maintain it’s leadership role in the sector
- how to build a brand, market products, services and the company
- how to manage millions of dollars of inventory for multiple business units
- how to analyze information to solve problems and make sound business decisions
- how to test software, document problems and work with cross functional teams from all aspects of the business
- how to make connections with colleagues from all departments including logistics, accounting, HR, loss prevention, IT and all levels of management and staff
Regardless of where you plan a career in the retail and supporting sectors, or stumble upon it accidentally, there are a host of skills and experiences that can be gained. Many of these skills are directly transferable in many other professions and sectors and desired by employers. If you desire any of these skills for your targeted career, the retail sector may be the perfect place to get them.
For me, retail is not an accidental profession. It is my gateway to most of the skills I’ve been able to acquire and practice that has helped me attain subsequent career opportunities. The learning and contributions to my cumulative experiences are deliberate and expectant. What career opportunities will be open to you if you go through your “retail gateway?
Retail Sector Career Resources