Maybe I’m just imagining it, but I feel like working retail leaves a stain on your resume. It becomes a black mark the longer you stay there. I can’t think of any reason why a real job would look at a resume with only one job at the local grocery store for the last 6 years and determine that this person is more qualified than the guy who has had at least spent the last 6 years finishing school, working internships, and working part-time at 2 different employers.
The second person seems much more rounded and knowledgeable about how a company functions on multiple levels than the first person who only progressed one position up within 6 years at the same company.
But that’s not the issue I have with working retail. The issue I have, when looking at the differences is that when you work retail, you get sucked into the mindset that you have a steady job, so you don’t worry about finding another one. It’s the way that even if you get mistreated and overworked at a retail job, you won’t try to leave. It’s that fact that you get comfortable working at the same place for 2, 5, 10 years without looking for other employment.
And that is what kills your resume.
Even though you have steady employment and have recommendations galore from managers, you only know how to work retail. You only know how to stock a shelf, scan items at a register, move boxes from a pallet to a cart, move boxes from a shelf to a cart. You only know how to do a limited amount of tasks. If I were any other business leader and I saw a resume that said some retail business, I would automatically count that person out of my hiring search.
Because while you may be adaptable and hardworking, you don’t have any transferable skills. I would assume (maybe wrongfully) that you have no critical thinking skills because you were working at a place where there’s no real need for you to solve complex problems since most everything follows a chain of command and most everything follows a standardized process across a nationwide chain to maintain a brand image.
This is coming from someone who is currently working in retail. I see this shit day in and day out; the lack of needing to really think about anything, the lack of problem solving capabilities, the amount of sheer stupidity and ‘sheeple’ attitudes within the associates.
So what do I suggest?
Only work retail while in high school. It’s more forgivable than working as a 20-something and over on a resume.
Don’t stay in retail for an extended period. 6 months to a year should be your max if you’re in a position like mine, where you are still going to school or trying to go back to school. If you’re stuck like me, then be able to put school or another job on your resume simultaneously while being in retail.
Don’t make a career out of retail. While you may jump around within that company and hold several different positions, you will still not be living up to your full potential as an adult and you will get too used to being used and abused by the salaried members of the company.