Turning Your Retail Job Into a Career

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You took that low paying retail gig because you needed the bread to pay back your college loan. But you’re wondering if folding jeans in a display rack is what your business professors meant when they said you’ll have to start on the ground floor. The truth is, your job can be a ground floor opportunity to move into a decent managerial post.

A recent article in policymic by business school professor and author Karen Mishra offers some suggestions on how to turn your retail job into a career. She says that if you prove yourself to be reliable and hardworking—even in menial tasks—you can get the attention of management. A good work ethic and positive attitude goes a long way. She advises recent grads to build on what you’ve learned in the trenches, things like people skills and selling upscale merchandise, which can help you move up from assistant manager to manager. You should also try to connect with people you meet. Unlike working in a cubicle, your job will allow you to meet new people every day. Some may be in a position to hire you—if you tell them about your career goals. Stranger things have happened. Finally, advises Mishra, if you really want to enter the managerial track at a specific company, hire on as a grunt for them. Learn everything you can about the company and sign up for every training program they offer.  

Bob Ravener, Dollar General’s EVP & Chief People Officer, who penned Up! The Difference Between Today and Tomorrow Is You says that making retail an upwardly mobile career rests with individual drive, perseverance and attitude. Dollar General’s career mindset offers a number of resources to help employees develop their talents and advance their careers. These include pro-active individual growth and development plans to maximize one's career aspirations. Also included are training programs that have placed more than 60 percent of their employees in upwardly mobile roles. Their Talent Development Centers have provided action plans for nearly 1,000 store operations employees. They have even entered into a university alliance with 12 colleges to offer discounted degree programs for employees.

For those of you who always wanted to work at Google, but were screened out for one reason or another, you might consider entering the door through one of their new retail outlets. According to 9to5 Google, the company plans to build a number of stand-alone retail stores in the U.S., with the first flagship Google Stores opening for the holidays in major metro areas. The goal is to showcase and create a hands-on experience for Google Nexus, Chrome, and a number of new products—much like what Apple has done with its iProducts.

Want to turn your retail job into a career? Stay positive, do the grunt work and leverage what you learn.

Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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