Winning with Work in Retail: Guide for New Workers

14 min read

The retail landscape in 2023 is an exciting mix of tradition and innovation, where in-store experiences blend seamlessly with digital operations. 

Whether you’re just starting or looking to advance your retail career, this blog post is your ultimate guide. 

We’ll explore how to find fantastic retail jobs, ace those interviews, acquire essential retail skills, and even uncover tips for soaring up the career ladder. Let’s dive in! 

Table of Contents

  • What is a Retail Job?
  • How to Find Great Retail Jobs & Companies
  • Acing That Interview
  • Skills for Retail Success
  • Final Tips for Advancing Your Career

What is a Retail Job? 

It may seem like a no-brainer question, yet there are many more retail job opportunities out there than what typically springs to mind, like:

  • Cashiers who ring up department store transactions and assist mall shoppers.
  • Merchandisers who set up eye-catching displays to capture attention and maximize sales. 
  • Home renovations store managers who mentor and schedule frontline employees and delegate tasks. 
  • Grocery clerks who stock shelves, sort produce, and clean up spills.  
  • Big box store associates who pull pallets of merchandise around bustling shoppers.
  • Electronics sales specialists who demonstrate the latest laptop, smartphones, and related extended warranty and setup plans. 
  • Corporate employees in finance, marketing, franchise planning, new employee recruitment, and other operational roles. 

Yet many retail jobs are much different in 2023 than even a decade ago. Retailers have many employees supporting both their brick-and-mortar and digital operations. Call it omnichannel retail or “phygital” retail if you like. 

Non-Traditional Retail Jobs You Should Consider

Many modern retail workers work in e-commerce distribution centers miles from the customers their business sells to. Others receive products from transport trucks and stock shelves before (or after) most customers would even think of shopping for their daily purchases. 

You may have bumped shopping carts with retail employees in casual clothes like mystery or personal shoppers. These workers blend in with customers during business hours as they collect items from grocery shelves for online shoppers for local delivery, store lockers, or curbside pickup spots. 

The retail industry continues to get more competitive across all channels. Many retailers are shifting employees from roles they can automate to survive and optimize profitability, like cashier-less checkout. It can free up employees to better interact with customers

Many manufacturers and service providers (like telecommunications carriers)  teams of brand ambassadors who train retail staff about their offerings and ensure their brand’s products are displayed effectively to optimize sales.  The store may not employ them, but serving that store’s customers is their bread and butter. 

How to Find Great Retail Jobs & Companies

If you live in or near a city, you might land your first job by dressing professionally and dropping a resume off with store managers. Many retail employees get their first job this way, sometimes on the same day. You can save time and fuel by using a job search engine like Indeed, or

Or consider a new way of finding shifts, with Evolia’s “Shift Map”:

Retail stores are everywhere, so if you regularly shop in a store that needs to fill a job vacancy, consider that a feather in your cap.  


When you find local retail opportunities, consider going into the store first before applying online. Showing ambition and making a personal connection with the store manager can set you apart from online candidates as long as you look polished and sound professional. 

How to Land a Retail Role Without Experience

Even if you don’t have any work experience per se, personal references from neighbors you have provided babysitting or lawn mowing services for can go a long way. If you are an athlete, a foodie, or even a video game enthusiast, it can help apply to retailers catering to your passions and personal interests. As long as you don’t spend your whole paycheck there, at least you have a chance for an employee discount! 

Even if you want to work in a corporate retail role someday or in an emerging retail role like personal shopping, it pays to get a taste of the retail industry with in-store experience. It can provide valuable context and perspective as you advance your career. A warm-blooded, professional, well-dressed candidate standing in front of a manager has a distinct advantage over the faceless, invisible candidates whose resumes are sitting in an applicant tracking system. 

Other Tips for Finding Local Shifts

Discover the Evolia advantage and revolutionize your job search experience! Shift Shopping with Evolia offers a dynamic way to boost your income and achieve unparalleled flexibility to match your lifestyle. 

Whether you have morning commitments or simply prefer a leisurely start to your day, Shift Shopping allows you to effortlessly apply for shifts near you that align with your preferences. 

Say goodbye to mundane job boards and hello to extra fun money with Evolia, where you can effortlessly uncover new shifts that bring additional income for you and your loved ones. 

No more wasting precious hours uploading resumes and painstakingly filling out application forms; Shift Shopping with Evolia streamlines the process, empowering you to concentrate on what truly matters—earning those extra dollars while enjoying the flexibility you crave. 

Make your job search work for you with Evolia! Find shifts today.

Acing That Interview

Just as with interviewing for a job in all industries, it pays to show up on time, be well groomed, and wear clothes that are one formality tier above the job you are looking for. Many retailers have application forms to fill out, so you might want to fill out one online and print it out to bring to the store. Or request one from store staff by going in and purchasing a product or two as a covert reason for dropping by the store. 

Consider Visiting The Store

Visiting the store before your interview as a shopper can help you identify ideas you can (tactfully) suggest in your interview. For example, a grocery store’s shelves may not be “faced” properly, showing gaps and making aisles look cluttered. Suggesting this is something you could rectify as an employee can position you as a proactive problem solver instead of someone that just follows orders. 

More Tips

Here are five more tips for interviewing in retail: 

  1. Don’t bring up salary or benefits. Allow the hiring manager to bring that up when they feel you are a suitable candidate. 
  2. Be flexible. Don’t suggest you can’t work weekends or weeknights, as these are often the busiest times for retail stores. Land the job first, then earn the shifts you want with seniority. 
  3. Research the company beforehand, whether it is a franchise store or an independent. This research will help you stand out from other candidates. If you are a regular customer, use that to your benefit. If you have had positive experiences that you can say compelled you to apply, use that information. Hiring managers love hearing that their team is performing well and motivating people to join their workforce. 
  4. Prepare questions for the interview. Being prepared is good, but asking the hiring manager about the qualities they look for in an ideal employee can help you get the job. It is important to signal that you are interested in working for them and not just practicing your interview skills. Here are some questions to consider asking, from Harvard.
  5. Ask how you should best follow up on your candidacy if you are truly interested. The usual rule of thumb for checking in after an interview is 48-72 hours, however, asking for the employer’s preference might prompt the interviewer to hire you on the spot. It can save you the awkwardness of waiting and wondering how to move your candidacy forward and demonstrates your consideration of their hiring process.  

Recommended Reading: 13 Common and Difficult Restaurant Interview Questions

Skills for Retail Success

Landing a job in retail is just the first step. Keeping it and thriving are equally, if not more important. Emotional intelligence, patience, and enthusiasm for helping people are essential tools in a retail worker’s kit bag. Here 

1. Excel in Customer Service and Sales Skills

Customers like working with knowledgeable, confident, engaging retail employees. Even if you don’t have answers to all a customer’s questions, a friendly smile, eye contact, and a commitment to meeting their expectations go a long way. 

Listening attentively and actively to a customer’s needs is crucial and can help you address a customer’s needs. By getting the full picture of a customer’s needs and priorities, you may increase the size of a transaction with complementary product upselling and service cross-selling. Be sure to take notes, confirm your understanding of customer needs, and ask follow-up questions before you try and sell them products that don’t meet their needs or buying criteria. 

Don’t let biases about a customer’s age, gender, clothing, or disability cloud your judgment when working with someone. Going above and beyond by treating customers with respect, accountability, and courtesy can build a customer’s confidence in working with you. 

If a customer has left other stores because they were treated poorly or couldn’t get the information they were looking for, you can become a trusted advisor for this and future purchases. They might also give positive feedback about you to your boss or to their friends. 

Customers have many options for where to buy products that meet their needs. Retailers strive to build a reputation for positive customer experiences. Being recognized as a trusted team member who guides customers through effective buying journeys from end to end can take your retail career to the next level. 

2. Learn About the Company and Products

Talking to your colleagues, your manager, and even your customers can help you learn interesting things about your company and its offerings that aren’t available online. You may discover some proven methods for selling products or ways to dispel disinformation or rumors. 

However, online research about the company’s history, reputation, and its product mix is important..Reading and watching reviews can help you understand what existing customers care about when they shop in your store and evaluate products for purchase. Tailor your presentations and how you address customer concerns based on what you learn.  

  1. Be Flexible

Building a reputation as someone who is willing and able to change their schedule or their responsibilities can go a long way. For example, if you are willing to switch shifts, so a coworker can attend an important family event can inspire them to return the favor someday. 

If you are willing to move to a different department in your company, it demonstrates you are willing to learn new things and take on more responsibilities. 

4. Understand merchandising and layouts

For every store, having neat, orderly merchandise on display, arranged by color, size, and category is important. Making your inventory appear clean, fresh, and ready to take home makes your job a lot easier as a salesperson. Store layout tactics like positioning new, higher-priced inventory at the front of the store, and aging, discounted products near the back of the store can accelerate product turn over.  

How a store is laid out also influences the amount of time a customer spends in a store, and the number of products they purchase. Ideas such as positioning complementary products together like shirts, pants, and belts. 

5. Have a Team Player Attitude

A busy day in a retail store can be taxing to every employee’s mind, body, and spirit. Helping your colleagues to meet customer needs and get store merchandise in place can go a long way to improving morale. 

Whether your store sells products on a commission basis or not, it’s never a good idea to interrupt a sales conversation in progress. Show support by checking inventory on a colleague’s behalf so they can stay engaged in the customer conversation. Help cashiers by assisting customers out with large purchases, or lend a hand when a manager needs an errand done like dropping off the day’s deposits to the bank. When you help others meet their goals, they are more likely to return the favor next time. Be an enabler, not an obstacle. 

Seek feedback from teammates and management to find ways you can improve your performance. 

6. Develop Communication Channels with Management 

Busy managers like employees who speak clearly, concisely, and with forethought. Be confident, prepared, and leave out unimportant details. Equip a manager to remove any obstacles you have to meeting a customer’s needs or completing a task. 

Choose the right time and setting to address delicate matters. Ask to schedule a time to discuss a topic when they aren’t distracted or in the middle of another task. Find a time when other employees aren’t around to avoid putting the manager on the spot in front of a group. 

Seek feedback and bring solutions as much as possible, not just issues. A manager may have encountered a similar situation in the past and appreciate that you value their opinion. They will also appreciate your initiative.   

7. Stay Professional & Organized

Being calm and poised can be contagious in a retail setting. Organize yourself as far as being on time and presentable, and organize your environment so tools, information, and products can be found when needed. 

Final Tips for Advancing Your Career

Understand The Potential Career Paths

If you plan to stay within a retail organization, ask about what you can do to earn a promotion to a departmental leader, or other steps up the ladder. Showing you are committed to growing within an organization can help you to gain the skills to advance in your career, and the monetary rewards that do with it. 

Ask your manager about how they earned their place in the organization, but don’t make it seem like you are angling to unseat them from the team. 

Set Your Goals and Communicate Them

Identify key performance goals like sales volumes or customer satisfaction numbers that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART). Document them and share them with your manager. If their expectations exceed your goals, it is a great opportunity to discuss the resources you need to attain them. If your goals are higher than yours, you might need to reassess. 

Look for Mentors and Educational Opportunities

Find other team players in your organization who are willing to share the secrets to their success. and the practices have helped them achieve their goals and status in the company. 

Ask your manager if the company has learning programs or works with training partners to help you level up your sales and customer service skills. There may even be a training budget for employees that management hasn’t thought to tell you about. The more you express you want to be a high-performing, long-standing employee in their organization, the more doors it will open up for you to succeed. 

Ready to Find Your First or Next Retail Opportunity? 

Finding your next shift has never been easier.  With Evolia, simply check out the flexible job board and find out what shifts are available that you’d like to pick up.

To begin, head over the live shift board to see what available shifts are near you. Once you’ve found some shifts you’d like to pick-up and work, create a free Evolia account so you can apply. 

Once the account is created, you’re ready to showcase your awesome skill sets and show interest for a shift. From there, the employer will see your interest and will invite you to work that shift if your skill set fits what they are looking for. 

And, that’s it! You can find shifts to apply for within minutes and get working right away.




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