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Retail Sales

Retail sales positions are available around the globe and are great entry-level or return-to-work jobs. If you want employment requiring no formal education that offers flexible hours, a clean, safe working environment and the chance to learn new skills, retail might be a good choice for you.

The median pay for retail sales workers is $24,340 per year and the job outlook is at a 2% growth. As a retail sales worker, you will assist customers in finding the products they want and processing their payments. Your training will include customer service, security, policies and procedures, working a cash register and handling payments. You may sell clothing, furniture, books, cosmetics, computers, automobiles or a variety of other goods. Some items, such as cosmetics and computers, may require special training that often continues throughout your employment.

Some of the positives of working in retail sales include:

  • Start right away with minimal education and experience.
  • Get your foot in the door for positions with higher pay and responsibility.
  • Gain portable skills.
  • Work flexible hours including part-time or full-time, evening and weekend hours.
  • Find job opportunities in every location.
  • Earn income while going to school.

Discover your passion

If you have a friendly, outgoing personality, good customer service and selling skills, and are persistent, a position as a retail sales associate may be the first step in an interesting and rewarding career. Some tips for success shared by the National Retail Federation include the following:

  • Build rapport and appreciate the differences in colleagues and customers.
  • Sell products that are useful or enjoyable to customers.
  • Educate customers on product differences and costs.
  • Be honest.
  • Learn to upsell, cross-sell or add-on — if you sell a dress, ask if shoes, a purse or accessories are needed.
  • Learn from successes and mistakes — you'll have both.
  • Go the extra mile — work harder and smarter to gain the business.
  • Don't act desperate or pushy — always try to give the customer what they need by being flexible and thinking outside of the box.
  • Ask for referrals if a customer mentions their positive experience.
  • Be confident in yourself and your products.
  • Be respectful even if you disagree or feel the customer is misinformed.
  • Be the “bright spot” in your customer's day.

As you gain experience, you may find a variety of advancement opportunities, including department supervisory and management positions, store management, district management and merchandising. You may also find sales positions that offer higher earnings and commission opportunities, including automobiles, jewelry, furniture and electronics.

Education and training

You may determine that you need to further your education to advance your career. Explore the many tools and resources on the MySECO website to assist you in achieving the necessary education requirements. College Scorecard is a great starting point for researching and selecting an education institution. You can also use the Scholarship Finder to assist you with locating funding relevant to the military community to help pay for classes. Check to see if you are eligible for My Career Advancement Account Scholarship assistance to help with education or licensure costs.

Finding employment

Search for retail positions with Military Spouse Employment Partnership companies and organizations that are committed to recruiting, hiring, promoting and retaining military spouses in portable careers.

Look for opportunities in your local community in retail sectors, including clothing and accessories, general merchandise, motor vehicle and parts dealers, building materials and garden equipment, sporting goods, hobby, books and music.

Volunteer or find an internship and proactively networking to build your contacts and experience. Tell family, friends, coworkers and all others that you are looking for retail positions and ask for contacts to build and expand your network.

Professional organizations and networking

Join a professional organization to learn current industry practices and policies surrounding retail sales. Continue your education through workshops and conferences when you join a professional organization, which will add to your transferable skill set as you move. Network with other professionals in your industry to meet the right people to connect you to an interview at your new location.

Next steps

To learn more about retail careers, review the Research Occupations tool on MySECO and investigate your options. Take self-assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with your career choice. Talk to others in the field and get their feedback.

Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 and speak with a SECO career coach to discuss career or education choices, searching for a job or overcoming challenges. Coaches are available to review your resume, practice interviewing, discuss networking or assist you in understanding employer requirements for this field.

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