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How to write a retail manager CV
Writing an effective retail manager CV is about understanding what employers are looking for when they hire for this role. The most important function of a retail manager is to maximise profits, while minimising costs. Everything else that you do as a retail manager is just a part of this over-arching responsibility. It’s therefore important to SHOW prospective employers on your CV that you are capable of achieving this!
Keep this number one task in mind when writing each section of your retail manager CV.
Name and contact information
It’s typical to give your name, address, phone number and email address as a minimum.
TIP: You might also like to add your LinkedIn and Twitter handles to the contact box, but only if these make a good impression. LinkedIn and Twitter are both seriously powerful ways to show a prospective employer that you’re actively involved in your field of expertise and you’re staying up-to-date with the latest industry news. If you’ve not yet set up your accounts or you haven’t been active for a while, it’s worth doing prior to a major job hunt. Spend some time each day looking over the latest stories for your industry, retweeting, sharing and commenting to involve yourself with the community. It’s also worth updating your LinkedIn profile with detailed information as there’s room for a lot more than you can fit on two pages of a CV (see more about creating a LinkedIn profile to complement your CV here).
TIP: If you don’t include Twitter and LinkedIn on your CV, remember that your prospective employer may check out your profile anyway. Whilst it’s not usually fatal to a job application that you’re not an avid user of these sites, it can be fatal if there are posts that reflect poorly on you. Carefully curate your profiles of these and any other social media sites you have used in the past to ensure there is nothing that might harm your chances of being awarded the position. Keep in mind also that a barebones profile can do more harm than no profile. Hint: photos of you getting trollied with your mates every weekend tell your employer you’ll be frequently hungover – or ‘sick’ – on a Monday. Employers DO make hiring decisions based on pictures like these so take care to make such images private.
TIP: This CV template has plenty of space for multiple contact details, so make sure you provide a contact number that you can actually answer and ensure any voicemail message is professional. Don’t give a landline unless you’re actually home to take the call – an employer really doesn’t want to speak to your mum and leave a message for a next-day callback.
TIP: Consider making a new gmail address for job applications rather than using an existing one, for a number of reasons. Firstly, you can choose an address that sounds professional, rather than firstname.lastname@example.org. Secondly, you can set up a forwarder from gmail to your current email address so you get instant notifications if an email lands in the new box (but do check it from time to time in case the notification goes to spam). Thirdly, any emails won’t get lost in amongst your Top Shop offers and Pizza Express coupons – so you’re less likely to make the mistake of missing out on that all-important communication. Finally, you can set up a custom email signature just to use for emails to prospective employers, adding a whole heap of professionalism.
TIP: What about your personal website – should you include a link to this? Again, this really depends whether the site paints a positive picture or not. If you’re updating it regularly with comments and posts about industry related news, it’s likely to leave a good impression with an employer – but if it’s old, stagnant and in need of a refresh, it’s best to leave it off. Again, having a personal website is a really powerful tool when it comes to job hunting as it gives you the opportunity to showcase your skills and tell the employer a lot more about you than you could otherwise include in a short CV document.
Your personal statement is a concise summary of why you’re right for the retail manager position that you’re applying to.
Before writing this statement, the starting point is always to review the job advert as this tells you what’s important to THIS particular employer. What qualifications, skills and experience are they looking for as a minimum? Try to confirm that you have these prerequisites in your statement.
If you claim in the statement that you have particular soft skills (such as communication and teamwork), try to back it up with evidence. For example, rather than writing
“I am excellent at leading and motivating a team,”
you could instead write:
“I have strong leadership skills, having lead a team of 5 that has successfully met and exceeded all its targets for the past 3 years.”
Your work history should go in reverse chronological order – i..e most recent first.
“This is the most common type of CV that you will probably be familiar with. Your employment and work experience is usually on the front page, listed in reverse chronological order (most recent experience first).” ~ Oxford Brookes University
For each position, give the:
- Job title
- Employer name and location (not the full address – just the town or city)
- Date you started and finished, e.g. “March 2015 – April 2016” or “May 2016 to date”.
Then detail your responsibilities and any key achievements.
TIP: Achievements are EVERYTHING in this industry so don’t simply list off your duties without showing employers how you’ve carried them out successfully. For each thing you write, use the ‘so what’ format, i.e.
- What did I do?
- So what? What was the quantifiable result? (Source: International Hellenic University)
For example, if you’ve increased sales, say how you did it, and what was the tangible result (percentage increase).
TIP: Try to write your history with the job advert in mind. For example, if the role you’re applying for clearly has a large emphasis on training and mentoring, make sure you give plenty of examples of how you’ve done this successfully in your current or past roles.
TIP: If the job advert is a little short on detail, try viewing job profiles for inspiration (for example, Retail Manager Job Profile on Prospects.ac.uk).
TIP: DO mention relevant voluntary experience, work experience placements, consulting/freelancing and casual work. If not directly relevant to the role, consider whether you acquired any transferable skills relevant to your target position.
TIP: DO use the job titles that the employer uses within their job ad. For example, if they’re looking for a ‘Senior Manager for Retail Store’, don’t use any fancy titles that past employers might have given you, such as ‘Director of First Impressions’.
Qualifications should be written from highest to lowest. If you have qualifications relevant to retail management, give a little more detail about these if you have room. For example, you might state which elective subjects you took or what topic you chose for your dissertation.
If you’re short of work experience, consider whether you acquired any skills during your studies that would be transferable to the role.
It’s not obligatory to include a skills section but it can help you to reemphasise that you have the skills this employer is looking for.
For hard skills, you can simply list the skill and optionally include your proficiency level (e.g. basic, intermediate, advanced).
Avoid simply listing off soft skills without providing evidence of how you’ve acquired or used them.
‘Memberships’ is another optional section that can add value if used properly. Consider joining a professional organisation and offering details on your CV, demonstrating standards and showing a passion for your industry. Retail managers might consider joining:
- Chartered Management Institute
- The Institute of International Retail
- The Institute of Sales Management
Your hobbies and interests section is another place where you can really add a lot of value to your CV. You might do this by:
- Detailing creative hobbies to show that you are a creative / ‘ideas’ person
- Detailing sports/teamwork hobbies and explaining that these have helped develop a range of transferable soft skills such as clear communication and teamwork
- Detailing health and fitness activities to show that you take care of yourself and therefore are less likely to have sick days
Many people these days leave off the references section as it adds little value. This is because an employer will ask for references once they are ready to offer a job anyway (in fact, most jobs are offered ‘subject to references’).
- Provide multiple contact points on their CV where they can be reached;
- Use Twitter to show industry integration, knowledge and participation;
- Use LinkedIn to expand on their CV and show industry integration, knowledge and participation;
- Have employer-ready social profiles; and
- Use their website to further showcase their skills and abilities.
- Do similarly tailor your cover letter to the exact role you’re applying for!
Happy job hunting!
You may also like: How to write a management CV
Originally published 26th November 2018.