Careers advice

Quick and easy: what to put on a retail CV

There are heaps of great retail jobs on offer in NZ, you just need a CV that does the business.

What you’ll learn:

  • Core retail skills for your CV
  • Key CV skills for a retail assistant
  • Key CV skills for a store manager
  • Key CV skills for merchandising

The number of retail roles listed on Trade Me Jobs in the retail sector in Q3 of 2022 was up 15% compared to the same period last year, so, if a role in this exciting and diverse sector is your goal, there are plenty of opportunities out there.

However, retail in New Zealand is always a competitive landscape, and your application has to be top drawer if you’re going to get where you want.

To help you on your way, we’re going to deep dive into what to put on a CV for retail. We’ll start with some skills that every employee in this sector needs, before exploring some role specific stuff.

What’s more, we’ve got a free CV template you can download and use in your next retail job application, with different design options, so you can choose your favourite. We know, we’re too good to you.

Despite the wide variety of retail roles, some skills are essential to them all.

Core retail CV skills

1. Customer service

Success in retail is about so much more than great products. Whether the business sells t-shirts or technology, you’ll need great customer service skills to keep those sales ticking over. 

But what does this mean?

Well, on top of making customers feel welcome and valued, you’ll need to develop extensive merchandise knowledge and be able to think on your feet to respond to a range of queries.

A cool head will also come in handy for those trickier patrons … and trust us, you’ll meet some.

2. Sales sense

Ultimately, the goal in retail is to sell a product. Helping customers over the finish line through your powers of (subtle) persuasion is, therefore, a massive attribute to bring to the table.

Even if you’re not working on the shop floor, you should have this selling objective in mind at all times to ensure your efforts align with company goals. For example, a product designer should consider market trends when brainstorming the next big merchandise update.

3. Communication and teamwork

There’s no ‘I’ in team, and you’ll need to work collaboratively with your colleagues if you’re going to make it in retail. 

In New Zealand, this sector gets hectic – so you’ll need to build good relationships, and communicate clearly with other staff to get through busy patches.

Your CV should show the employer you've got a customer service mindset, and an eye for a sale.

4. Numeracy

We’re not talking about Einsteinian maths skills here. But being able to calculate prices, give correct change and take accurate stock counts without resorting to your phone calculator will certainly help your retail career.

5. IT skills

No employer will expect you to be familiar with their specific till or stock ordering software before starting. However, experience with computers will help you pick this up faster, and solve problems without asking for help.

6. Work ethic and time management

Retail staff should expect long hours, and lots of time on the move. This means employers in this sector look for motivated individuals who aren’t afraid to work hard, day after day.

But to be truly effective, you need to work smart as well as hard. This means juggling multiple responsibilities, and managing your time well to make sure nothing is left unfinished.

7. Initiative

Going beyond your job description to help a customer, lighten someone else’s workload or stop a problem before it happens will definitely go down well with the boss.

We don’t mean you should re-arrange the shop on their day off or order entirely different stock without their sign-off, but don’t be afraid to use your initiative.

8. Attention to detail

The little things can make a world of difference when it comes to a shopper’s experience in your company’s store. If you give them the wrong change, mix up their sizes or can’t find an item they’ve ordered for click and collect, they’ll likely think twice before shopping with you again.

So being able to stay on top of all of these things, while also moving quickly and responding to an ever changing environment is a key skill that all retail staff need to have.

9. Resilience

No matter how good at your job you are, every retail employee comes across unhappy or difficult customers from time to time. While, of course, you should be aiming to change their mood and offer them a great service, you also need to make sure that you don’t carry around this negative experience yourself when things don’t go well.

There’s nothing worse, from a customer’s perspective to dealing with a rude or disengaged staff member who’s still stewing over a poor interaction with a customer that happened earlier in the day. Learn the lessons, move on and bounce back.

10. Cultural awareness

In Aotearoa New Zealand, we’re lucky to live in a multicultural country, where it’s common to encounter people from many different cultures and backgrounds. It’s important to understand that a person’s culture could well have an impact on how they interact with you as a retail employee, so being aware that this is the case, and responding appropriately is a key skill to develop.

11. The ability to work under pressure

If you’ve ever been shopping on Black Friday, you’ll know that retail can be a very fast-paced game, where you need to be constantly on the move in order to keep up. Of course, this is an extreme example, but, with the return of tourists following the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely that retail businesses in NZ will start to experience more regular rushes.

12. Brand identity

It might not always be front of mind as you go about your day, but by working for the company, you’re representing its brand. This could impact you in a number of ways. For example, it’s common for those working in phone-based retail jobs to have a script for how to greet people, which is intended to reinforce the customer’s experience of interacting with this brand.

What skills do you need for a retail assistant CV?

On top of the important attributes already mentioned, a retail assistant CV should include:

  • The ability to follow processes: different businesses have different policies, and a good retail assistant will pick these up quickly and follow them every time.
  • Attention to detail: from ordering stock to ensuring displays are always on point, being able to focus will stop you making silly mistakes.
  • Customer awareness: as well as ensuring customers always get the help they need, watching for shoplifters is a key part of this role.

Retail assistants need to have a complete understanding of the processes that make the business tick.

What skills do you need for a store manager CV?

  • Leadership: on top of having the confidence to make decisions, this means knowing your team and delegating tasks to the right staff members. 
  • Scheduling: you’ll need to make sure you always have enough staff to cover the work, but not so many that people are standing around. This means planning hours sheets, and recruiting new employees if necessary. 
  • Health and safety management: your team should look out for each other, and your customers. However, the buck stops with you.

What skills do you need for a merchandising CV?

  • Presentation: a huge part of merchandising is creating eye-catching displays that will draw in customers and encourage them to buy. A knowledge of consumer psychology, and a creative eye will be invaluable here.
  • Networking: talking to the right people, and getting them behind your brand and its output is a huge part of increasing product exposure.
  • Strategic planning: when is the best time to promote a given stock? What is your target audience? How much do they want to spend? You’ll need to answer all of these questions, and more, to help your company thrive.

With this knowledge up your sleeve, it’s time to comb through your experience and find examples of how you’ve demonstrated these core skills. Note, this doesn’t have to be employment based, if you’re making a first job application. You can also use evidence from education, sports, volunteer work, unpaid internships and more!

If you’re looking for a template for your retail CV, you can use your Trade Me Job Profile. Once you’ve entered your qualifications, work history, personal skills and contact details, this tool can generate a CV for you to download and print in minutes.