Hiring managers who need to fill retail management positions seek specific skills for specific roles. A student who wants to go into store management should have really good people skills. An aspiring buyer should be able to negotiate with vendors. For data-driven jobs, students who can analyze large amounts of data and tell a narrative with the numbers are in high demand. In any of these jobs, attention to detail is extremely important.
Here are six traits aspiring retailers should be sure to demonstrate when job-hunting or trying to get hired by the company they’re interning for:
1.Highlight when you’ve had accountability or responsibility in previous jobs. This is something I always liked to see when I hired people. Even if you have supervisory experience at a nonretail job, that’s valuable to an employer.
2. In both your interview and resume, be sure to spell out achievement metrics, such as "increased event attendance by 50%."
3.Don’t discount or undersell experience you’ve had working on a retail floor. I find this is something students tend to do. But remember, iconic merchants all put in time on the floor and learned valuable lessons mining data from customers.
4. Whether in an internship or prior job experience, demonstrate that you can spearhead projects and manage them to completion. It’s not just about the nuts-and-bolts of a job; it’s about dealing with people and managing projects and time. This may sound basic, but a lot of people aren't good at meeting deadlines.
5. It’s very important to show a commitment to following up. A good strategy is asking permission to follow up with a person if you don't hear from them within a set amount of time.
6. Simple professional touches matter, such as referring to a manager as Ms., Mr., etc., until they tell you to use their first name. Starting emails with a pleasant greeting like, "I hope your day is going well" is something people appreciate. Don't send one-sentence emails without a greeting or closing.
Overall, it's valuable to demonstrate excellent quantitative skill, coupled with a sense of aesthetics. The former Chief Merchandising Officer of Rebecca Minkoff actually refers to people with equal quantitative and qualitative ability as "purple squirrels," since they're the hardest to find.
About the Author Dr. David Loranger is a full-time LIM faculty member, who teaches graduate courses in the Fashion Merchandising & Retail Management MPS program. Prior to joining LIM, he spent 17 years in retail and design, working as a Merchandise Manager for Saks Fifth Avenue, Loro Piana, Barneys New York, and Bergdorf Goodman, and owning The Fashion Collective textile design studio.