Retail & Distribution Channels

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Retail Jobs for Teenagers and Students

If you’ve got a friend that works at a popular restaurant, another that works at a supermarket, and a third that sells sporting goods, then they’ve all got something in common (besides your friendship): they’re all working in the retail industry.  Retail jobs can range from waitressing to stocking shelves, but they all have similar aspects that are important to consider if you’re looking for a job in this sector.

The application process for most retail jobs today caters to the 21st century, computer-savvy crowd.  Simply walking into a big box store with your resume in hand probably isn’t going to cut it; you’ll have to go back home, go online and fill out an online job application through the company’s web portal.

Some larger retailers like Wal-Mart and AT&T will actually require you to take an online test after submitting your application.  These tests consist of simple questions to gauge how you would react in different situations at their retail store.  They help employers determine who will be the best people to hire for specific positions.  You don’t have to worry about studying for this test, either.  Questions are usually based on situations that could occur in the store, like “If you saw your brother stealing from our store, what would you do?”  So don’t worry, no calculus required on pre-employment tests.

Once you’ve completed the pre-employment test along with submitting your resume, it’s time to sit back and wait for the retailer to call you in for an interview.  You don’t want to pester your potential employer, but be mindful not to wait too long.  Mistakes do happen, and if you haven’t received a callback after several days then you may want to give the retailer a shout to make sure that they received all of your information.

When sitting for an interview with a retailer, it’s important to keep several things in mind.  First, make sure that you’re flexible with the hours and days that you’re willing to work.  Some employers won’t even call back applicants that refuse to work on Sundays, so refrain from limiting your hours on your initial application as well as during the interview.  You want to approach any retail job with a positive, can-do attitude, regardless of the position being offered.

Working the retail industry can be a secure way to earn a steady paycheck while being a part of a team.  The retail work environment is relatively safe, the hours are usually reasonable, and the experience that you’ll gain along the way will help you throughout your professional career.  Retail jobs are as good as you make them, so approach your potential position with a great attitude and you’ll be well on your way to earning your pay.


Job Summary: Retail

  • Suitable for age range: 15+ years old.
  • Safety and security: Safety and security risks while working in a retail environment include dealing with the general public as well as being asked to work around forklifts, lift heavy packages and products, and perform manual tasks that could cause injury when not properly executed.  Most of the safety precautions involving retail jobs are covered during new-hire employee orientation.
  • Can improve your: Problem-solving, customer service, and social skills.
  • Can continue as a career? Many retail employees start out at entry-level positions and work their way up the company ladder.  Many retailers even offer tuition reimbursement for employees that wish to continue their education.
  • Required soft skills: Ability to communicate clearly and to be on time for each shift.
  • Required hard skills: Working with a team towards a common goal, providing excellent customer service, and operating company-specific equipment like cash registers and/or forklifts, depending on your specific job title.
  • Resources and network:

o – How to get a retail job

o   TargetJobs – 10 Skills you’ll gain from retail

o – The highest paying retail sales jobs

  • Where & how to find one? Consider applying to retail jobs that are close to where you live.  Being able to show up on time or on a moment’s notice should someone else call in sick will make you a dependable employee.  It’s usually a good idea to scout out the location you want to work, then talk to a manager, but don’t be surprised if you have to fill out your application online before sitting for an interview.
  • Estimated pay: $8 to $15 an hour, depending on the specific retailer.  Keep in mind that these estimates are based on hourly employees that do not rely on tips to supplement their incomes; working as a waitress or waiter at a restaurant chain means that your employer is going to pay you much less per hour.

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