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Frequently Asked Questions about Retailing

​Q. Why is a job in ret​​ailing good for starting your career?

A. There are several reasons for this:

  • You will learn the fundamentals of a retail operation and how each of the various career paths interact and support the entire retail organization. These experiences are critical for promotion to upper-level management positions in all fields.
  • Retail offers a wide diversity of activities. You don’t do the same thing or make the same decisions day after day. It is a very challenging work environment. You will learn about and work in various departments and positions giving you a well-rounded view of the total operation. The fast paced, diverse environment is a big benefit.
  • You have opportunities to show your work and dedication resulting in more pay and more opportunities for promotions. Objective performance measures can be traced down to the lowest level job.
  • It provides the best opportunity for getting experience in managing people and having profit and loss responsibility early in your career.

Q.What career opportun​ities are related to retail?

A.  Retailing offers many career paths. Whether your passion is sales, merchandising, buying, Information technology, eCommerce, supply chain, marketing, advertising, loss prevention, finance, accounting, human resource management, store design, real estate or many others all of these paths are vital to supporting retail outlets. The more you know about the operations of a retail outlet the more valuable you will be in one of these career paths.

Q. Are the hours longer than in ot​​her industries?

A.  Although you work some nights and weekends in retailing, the actual hours that you will work are no longer than in other industries. You will typically be scheduled for a 40 hour work week; however, during peak seasons, you may work longer hours. To be successful in any industry, you must be prepared to work hard and retailing is no different. People who want to progress rapidly in any industry frequently work more than 40 hours per week. Flexibility is key during the beginning phase of your career.

Q. How quickly can I be promoted and receive salary increases?

A.  Obviously, the different career paths within the various types of retail institutions and needs of the company will determine your rate and direction of advancement. How fast you advance really depends on your performance and the opportunities within your company; however, if you are above average in performance, you can expect to move up quickly.

Q. How long are the trainin​​g programs?

A.  This again depends on the company for which you choose to begin your career.  Larger retailers have in-house training programs and will train you in their specific methods. Training periods range from several months to a year. Some programs are held strictly in a classroom, while others combine training in a classroom and on the sales floor.

Q. How much control will ​​I have over geographic placement?

A.  Although some companies will try to accommodate preferences, most companies are not able to consider personal preferences and emphasize the importance of flexibility. Most companies stress that the more willing you are to move, the faster you will rise within the company since most moves are promotions; however, many companies will not require you to move if you are willing to accept a slower career path.

Q. How do I decide whi​​ch type of retail store is best for me?

A.  When deciding which type of store environment is the best for you, you must ask yourself several  questions including:

  • What corporate culture will I fit in with best?
  • Do I want to be in store management, buying or a support function?
  • What kind of lifestyle do I want to lead?
  • Do I want the flexibility of switching career paths, say, from buying to store management?
  • Where do I want to be five or 10 years from now?

There are significant differences among the different types of retail institutions. These differences could have an effect on your choice of retail as a career. Make it a point to discover the different career paths within the different types of retailers to determine how your interests and career needs may be better satisfied.

Q. What do you n​​​eed to do to get promoted?

A.  Do a great job in your present position, and don’t worry about your next position until you get it. If you perform well and get good results, you’ll be promoted when you’re ready - often before you expect it.

Last updated 3/30/2020 8:54 AM