How to get out of retail in 7 steps (With jobs list)
Updated 25 May 2023
Working in retail doesn't have to be a permanent career choice. There are several steps you can take to navigate the transition from retail to other careers. Your retail career provided you with many transferable skills that you can use to find a new job that better fulfils your interests and needs. In this article, we provide advice on how to get out of retail, a list of transferable skills to include on your CV and potential jobs to consider as you make this transition.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
How to get out of retail
Here are some steps on how to get out of retail that you can take to make a transition out of your retail career:
1. Determine your reason
Your first step is to think about why you want to leave your retail career. When you understand what you dislike about your current position, you can identify what to look for in a future job. For example, find a career that offers more advancement opportunities. Also, potential employers may ask you why you're making a career transition, so this step can help you prepare your response to this question for future interviews.
2. Assess your interests
Once you determine what you didn't like about retail, you can assess what you want in a new job. Create a list of the aspects you enjoyed most from your jobs thus far to help you identify job interests. You can also look outside your work and think about any hobbies or activities you do in your free time. Sometimes, you may be able to make a career out of those hobbies, or at least use aspects of them in a full-time job.
You can also take career aptitude tests online to identify areas you may enjoy. These tests consider your skills and interests when identifying careers or industries where you could be successful.
3. Identify your skills
Make a list of your skills when searching for potential careers to which you can transition. Consider the job duties you have in retail and the skills you use to perform these duties. For example, interacting with customers requires communication skills. If you stock shelves or make displays you may have attention to detail skills. You may also have skills from your hobbies such as content creation if you like to write or draw.
It may be helpful to research career skills to identify which ones you already have. You can also research your current job in retail to learn what skills employers often require for your role.
4. Search for jobs
After identifying your skills and interests, search for related jobs. Use criteria such as where you want to work and your desired salary to limit your search. For example, you can search open positions in your area or search for remote jobs if you want to work from home.
You can find job postings on job boards like Indeed.com. You can also visit the careers page on company websites if there is a company for which you want to work.
Related: Essential job search guide
5. Update your CV
Before applying for a job, be sure to update your CV. When transitioning to a different type of career, focus on transferable skills. You can still share your experience in retail but when listing your job duties try to align them with the duties that you may perform in a new job. For example, if you're applying to administrative jobs you can include creating employee schedules, performing transactions and taking customer calls to show that you can complete similar duties in another role.
6. Contact your network
When changing careers, contact your professional network to learn of other opportunities. If any of your connections know of an open position they can share it with you. Your network may also be a good place to identify jobs you may like or companies for which you can work.
You can also use your network during a job search to get advice and feedback on your application. For example, you may ask close connections to review your CV.
7. Have a flexible mindset
A flexible mindset can help you navigate a career change by helping you to stay positive. You may need to take entry-level jobs as you gain experience in a new field. It can also take time to get a new job, so you may have to remain in retail until you get an offer for a different job.
Transferable retail skills
Transferable skills are abilities you learn and use in one career that you can apply to other jobs. Many skills can be useful in every industry, such as communication. Here are skills you may develop while working in retail that may transfer to other careers:
Communication skills enable you to share ideas with others. Listening, writing and speaking are all communications skills that you use working in retail but can transfer to any other job. In a new job you may communicate in different ways, for example, you may not interact directly with customers but may communicate with your team.
Related: What are communication skills?
Problem-solving is the ability to identify an issue and brainstorm ways to correct it. In retail, you may gain ample experience resolving issues for customers and other associates. This means you have practice in developing and implementing solutions. You can demonstrate this skill on your CV by listing it in the skills section. In your cover letter, you can provide an example of a problem you were able to resolve.
Multi-tasking is the ability to focus on and perform separate tasks at the same time. This is a valuable skill to transfer to a career in any industry. Multi-tasking demonstrates the ability to handle more responsibility, which employers may seek. In retail, you multitask by assisting customers while stocking shelves, cleaning and performing other daily duties.
Leadership skills are abilities you use to guide and manage others. Working in retail helps you develop leadership skills through managing a team, overseeing a department during your shift or helping customers shop. Employers seek great leaders to be part of their teams because often those with these skills can handle responsibility and are good influences on others. If you lead a team or manage a shift while working in retail, include this on your CV.
Working in retail helps you develop great collaboration skills, which are abilities to work well with others. In retail, you often work on a team of several associates and you collaborate to manage the store floor during your shift and balance duties so that you can assist customers while also maintaining a clean and functional store. Many job roles require collaboration, so you can transfer your retail experience to your new job.
Possible jobs to pursue after retail
There are many careers and entry-level positions you can get after working in retail with your transferable skills. Here are a few examples of careers to consider:
1. Administrative assistant
National average salary: £20,182 per year
Primary duties: Administrative assistants support their office colleagues with organisation and communication tasks. They schedule appointments and meetings and take notes during meetings. Administrative assistants also create and maintain filing systems to keep schedules and reports organised.
2. Customer service representative
National average salary: £21,258 per year
Primary duties: Customer service representatives assist customers with orders and answer any questions. They also are product experts and can provide detailed information about a company's products and services. They also resolve issues including refunds and defective products.
3. Data entry clerk
National average salary: £25,554 per year
Primary duties: A data entry clerk records information into databases and helps make data more accessible. They may create spreadsheets or organise information and update spreadsheets when necessary. Data entry clerks also create reports and presentations to share data in a readable format.
National average salary: £25,944 per year
Primary duties: A banker helps customers manage their financial accounts. They perform security checks to ensure money is not counterfeit and that a customer's money is secure. Bankers can also provide financial advice about checking and savings accounts, investments and loans.
5. Sales representative
National average salary: £27,477 per year
Primary duties: A sales representative sells a product or service on behalf of a company. They develop and maintain customer relationships and contact them about new offers. A sales representative also learns about target audiences to make their sales journey more successful.
Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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