Sales Associate/Retail Job Description
A long and satisfying career in the retail sector usually starts small. You may be a cashier for a local shop in your town or a sales clerk in a nearby shopping mall. However you get your foot in the door, you can be sure that first years working as retail sales associates will be an eye-opening experience that can be both fun and demanding. There are good employment opportunities in retail sales because the turnover rate is high, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
What are the qualifications for a retail sales associate?
A high school diploma, a willingness to work irregular hours including nights and weekends, and a positive attitude during your interview can sometimes be enough to get you a sales associate's job. Any related experience you can provide your potential employer such as volunteer work or a school internship also can make a good impression.
What are the responsibilities of retail sales associates?
You will be expected to provide prompt and courteous customer service. "Employers look for people who enjoy working with others and who have good communication skills, an interest in sales work, a neat appearance, and a courteous demeanor," says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics "Occupational Outlook Handbook."
In addition, you will be expected to ring up sales on a computerized cash register, handle money and credit card payments, maintain store cleanliness and do basic housekeeping chores, perform shift audits and maintain proper inventory levels, attend meetings and work with minimal supervision. In some cases, you may be required to meet a sales quota.
How much are retail sales associates paid?
The compensation range for an associate runs from $7.25 (minimum wage) to $11.50 an hour, depending on previous experience. Many companies pay overtime for third shifts that occur during night hours.
If you've managed to snag a sales associate job, and you like the retail sales industry and want to climb the career ladder, you'll need to give your entry-level retail sales position a professional polish when networking or adding your experience to your resume. Study resumes online to see how others have described their job duties. And if you're serious about a management position, a college education will be increasingly expected as you move up the ladder.
Plus, thinking of your entry-level sales associate job as a solid career foundation will help you focus on making your employer happy, which will lead to more responsibility, which will lead to a raise at your current job and more opportunities with other companies.
Joyce Hanson is a Brooklyn, New York-based writer, editor and long-time blogger who has written about small business and careers for Crain's New York Business.