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How to Write a Resume When Transitioning Out of Retail

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Retail work experience can provide a versatile skill set ranging from customer relations to warehouse organization. This diverse experience can be an advantage when you decide to leave the retail world and seek employment in another field. While this transition can be challenging, a well-organized resume focusing on your unique skills shows your potential employer the benefit in hiring you.

Research the position and the company to which you intend to apply. Look for specific job responsibilities associated with the position. Think creatively about possible desirable skills that may not be on the job listing but which retail experience has given you. For instance, an office position may ask for applicants with organizational expertise, but the phone experience you earned in your last retail position may be an advantage to your potential employer that the advertisement did not include.

Review your retail experience and make a list of the specific skills that you used at your job. These may include money handling, customer service, being a pleasant and helpful coworker, and having polite phone etiquette or a clean work area. The diversity of your retail job requirements is your key to transitioning out of retail. Calming an angry customer and facilitating a merchandise exchange may have been a part of your daily job, for example, but on your resume, that action represents your talent for staying calm under pressure and turning a hostile situation into a positive experience for your client.

Target your resume toward the job for which you intend to apply, by being specific. When composing your "skills" section, focus those requirements specified for the position, and include your unique skills that you believe will benefit that particular position further. If you know that your potential employer requires an employee with strong phone interaction skills, write in your resume that you have strong phone interaction skills, rather than noting a general retail skill set of “customer service.”

Organize your resume according to your strengths. Place your skills section toward the top of your resume, and your work history toward the bottom of the page. This arrangement emphasizes the strongest elements of your resume. When transitioning from one type of job to another, prior experience in an unrelated field is less important than the potential skills you can bring to the new field.


Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.

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