When it comes to working in retail, you’re either going to love it or hate it. Either way I’m a firm believer that everybody should work in a customer based job at some point within their life to get an understanding of how it feels to be the person the other side of the counter.
For many people, and students in particular, shop work will be their first introduction to the wonderful world of working and paying taxes. As the holidays are quickly creeping up on us I’m sure a number of people will now be looking for summer jobs. If you’re looking for some advice on what kind of jobs to be applying for here are some pros and cons of working in retail.
Pro: Working in retail you will meet some of your best friends for life. You will support each other through the long and boring days and through the busy and stressful days. They may become your beacon of light and you’ll love them all the more for this. You and your colleagues may be completely different individuals with completely different interests, but one thing will tie you together. A common enemy. You will support each other against the wicked and evil customers which leads us beautifully onto our first con.
Con: Customers. Don’t get me wrong. Not all of the customers you will encounter will be complete dragons. Some will be lovely and will make your day. Other days you will encounter Donna and her “can I speak to the manager” haircut. Customers like this can be compared to Dementors as their main ambition is to consume all of your happiness and leave you as an empty shell. Some customers will argue, and scream and shout. Trust yourself and trust your colleagues. You know your company procedures and just remember, the customer isn’t always right.
I know it’s hard but try not to take anything customer says too personally as you never know what kind of day they’re having. Don’t get me wrong, that’s no excuse for them to treat you bad, but a little empathy can help diffuse any situation, and if not, you can always mock them with your colleagues as soon as they leave the store.
Pro: A lot of shops now only offer small contracts to their employees. I know the thought of this may seem daunting but this can actually be great, especially if you’re a student as it offers you a world of freedom. Only working a small contract allows you the chance to focus on other things beside work whether that be your studies, volunteering or perhaps even your hobbies.
Con: The majority of shop work doesn’t pay well. That teamed with the small contracts can make you question whether it’s worth it, but there will usually be overtime in shops, especially during busy periods. I know we all like a bit of spare cash in our bank accounts, but remember it’s important to look after yourself.
At university I was advised a full time student should not be working over 10 hours a week. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t always realistic, but it’s a good guideline to stick too.
Pro: You can get a job in your favourite shop. You’ll spend your entire shift surrounded by the products you adore in the environment you adore, and most importantly, staff discount! This is a great way to get all of the latest news and deals from your favourite brand or shop, as you’ll literally be one of the staff setting up the promotions.
Con: You may start of loving the stock and brand, but being around it for the entirety of your shifts could result in you growing sick of the sight of it all. You may grow to hate the things you were once passionate about. Is that a risk you’re willing to take, or can your love withstand the pressures of working in retail?
Pro: Even if this is a summer job which’ll last 6 weeks it’ll be another notch to add to your CV. Shop work is so versatile, and there are so many skills you big up to future potential employers.
Cash handling? Done it mate. Communication? Aced it with customers and colleagues.
Stock management? Nailed. Reliability? I was always there waiting for the shop to open.
You can pretty much relate any of the skills you will learn to other careers, you just need to be good at bigging yourself up.
Cons: Some people believe that “All experience is good experience” but in my history of job searching I have found the opposite of this. When applying for jobs I have often been told that my experience is in “customer service” and not in the right places. Of course having some experience is better having nothing. It shows you’re proactive and not afraid to work, but when creating your CV bear in mind the kind of role you’re applying for. If your dream career has nothing to do with retail or customer service try not to allow your CV be to shop heavy. Yes you’ve worked hard there, and yes you should be proud, but always remember to find a way of relating this to the new prospective job.
Working in a shop will either be the best time in your life or the worst. The same as most things in life, it is what you make of it. If you do decide to venture into the world of retail try to not let the cons bring you down and instead concentrate on the world of positives waiting for you!