There is an old saying about closing a sale – "It only takes one YES." Meeting objections from hopeful customers is arguably one of the most challenging tasks for any sales professional. However, if you can get the customer to answer "yes" to at least one question, you're likely going to close the deal. But, to become a sales professional, you first must be hired. And a critical first step is to write an elegant retail sales associate resume.
Global commerce depends on the talents, passion, and skills of sales representatives and associates. Their ability to clearly articulate the benefits of a consumer product, solution, or commodity – engagingly and convincingly helps drive our world's economy. However, many soon-to-be sales associates struggle to find the right words to draft their sales associate resumes.
When you think about it – resumes for sales associates are your best opportunity to prove that you have what it takes to work for any company – and sell any product. Resumes are intended to support an application – to get the hiring manager or firm to say "yes" to an interview. It's essentially that simple.
So – how do you write resumes for sales associate positions? Are there specific keywords you want to include in the resume skills for the sales associate section? Is it easier to write a resume freeform or start with an outline? Finally, what sales associate resume skills should you highlight, and which ones should be reserved for a cover letter?
These are all questions we'll answer in the article below.
Retail Sales Associate Resume Sample
A retail sales associate must possess strong communication, time management, and follow-up skills. Depending on the company they work for, they could be tasked to sell small-ticket items – to multiple million-dollar packages. In the end, their ability to close the deal is ultimately how the performance is measured.
The closing ability tends to be the difficult part of being a sales rep – and the quality most hiring firms and companies are searching for in job applicants. Defining the critical attributes of any job helps a candidate structure their resume. To give you a practical example of how a finished retail associate resume should look, we've taken the time to create a sample for you to review.
Take some time to carefully review the sales associate resume skills example below. Once you've thoroughly read the resume, please continue to the sections below, where we will provide you with a detailed outline and offer some practical tips that will help you organize, structure, write, and format the finished resume.
This sample resume for sale associates is for our hypothetical job candidate Jackson. He is applying for a retail sales position for an automotive aftermarket manufacturer in his hometown of San Diego, California. As you can see – his resume is clean, organized, easy to read, and flows from start to finish.
He opens with a well-written resume summary, which is his chance to provide an overview of his skills, experience, and interpersonal capability. The critical item to notice is his opening sentence, where he customizes the resume for this specific company. This type of attention to detail is crucial as it helps separate him from other candidates who provide a generic resume and their application.
This type of attention to detail can make a huge difference between receiving an interview. It's often never done in a resume, and this type of personalization – especially for a sales representative position, shows the hiring manager a dedication to quality.
How to Write a Good Retail Sales Associate Resume in 2023: Full Guide to Resumes for Sales Associates
The best sales associates are exceptional communicators. Their ability to draft convincing emails and speak with customers in a confident, engaging, and charismatic way will significantly help them close more deals. In fact, reading the job description of any posting will provide a clear roadmap as to what they are searching for with their sales professionals.
Generally, they should be adept at multitasking, handling customer objections, operating a cash register, have strong product knowledge, working without direct supervision, maintaining positive customer service skills always, and resolving conflict. These are not just vital skills – but also called 'action verbs,' which should be included in any professional resume for a retail sales associate.
A retail sales associate resume should be concise (no more than a single page, well-organized, and easy to follow. Although each company might require different information on your resume, most should include the following sections.
- Personal contact information – Before you are hired, they need to know how to get a hold of you. The personal contact information section might seem remedial, but it's crucial to start with accurate and up-to-date information.
- Resume Summary – This is your elevator pitch – something every retail sales representative must sharpen and polish. Resumes with a personalized and robust resume summary are often noticed first.
- Work History – Having the right sales experience can help you eclipse others for jobs in this competitive industry. We'll show you how to choose the proper job history and the essential items to mention.
- Education – Most sales positions will only require a GED certificate or High School diploma. Regardless of the requirement, the education section should only list your highest completed school level.
- References – The reference section is where you'll list a few professional or personal mentors who can vouch for your experience of meeting or exceeding sales goals and years of experience.
- Skills – While this is listed as the final section, you can format the hard and soft skills you possess on the sidebar of the resume – when you utilize a template.
Now that we've explained which significant sections should be included in your resume, it's time to learn how to organize and build the content. We recommend using a master resume – or a working word document that allows you to draft content, edit for spelling and grammar, and fine-tune the formatting. When you're done with all the leg work, you'll have a clean document that you can copy and paste into a resume builder and pick a layout and format that fits your application and personality best.
So – let's break down each of the sections listed above.
Section #1 – List Your Contact Information
The contact information section may seem very remedial, but it is more critical than you'd think. A significant job quality of the best retail sales associates is consistency. Believe it or not, your ability to prove this to any prospective employer begins with this section. Here is how this is applicable.
A job application will likely accompany a resume. If the contact information on your resume does not match that on the application, this will raise red flags with the prospective employer. This type of failure can end your job candidacy before it begins.
How to Format This Section
Best practices for resume and application writing suggest keeping the personal contact information very basic. You'll want to make sure each entry matches what you document on the application for the resume. Write your full legal name, complete mailing address, email address, and mobile phone number.
Here is a bonus tip to consider. Make sure your phone is connected to your email to reply quickly to inquiries from hiring agencies of the company you've applied to. Having your mobile number is crucial – as many recruiters send SMS text notifications to applicants to update them on application status.
Section #2 – Professional Summary
Having the gift of gab or being an effective communicator is a crucial hard skill for any retail sales representative. In a retail environment, you'll likely have a limited time to sell the product or service a customer is inquiring about. To accomplish this, you need to establish an effective sales pitch. That's basically what the resume professional summary is – a short and sweet elevator pitch that explains to your 'customer' (or employer) why you're the ideal candidate.
Let's look at the sample resume above for our candidate Jackson. The professional summary is a few sentences long – but starts with a powerful and personal opening statement. It's clear that he wants to join this company in San Diego as a retail sales associate. He then provides an overview of his extensive work history in this profession, dedication to customer satisfaction, along with the hard and soft skills that make him an effective closer and great team player.
How to Format this Section
We strongly suggest keeping your professional summary to four or five well-written sentences. It should be a simple to read paragraph, about 150 to 200 words, with a professional – yet conversational tone. Consider the professional summary as your elevator pitch. Before you consider this section finished, read it aloud several times. Make sure it sounds natural – as if you're speaking to the hiring manager during an interview.
Section #3 – Work History
You'll find it easier to become employed when you have the correct type of work history. For sales associate positions, it makes logical sense to assume that having relevant work experience will help your chances to gain an interview. While you'll note this on your application, the resume gives you a fantastic opportunity to expand and provide additional details.
With a resume for sales associates, the work history section should match the entries listed on your application. However, beyond listing the company's name, location, dates of employment, and your job title, the resume will include a few bullet points of key accomplishments.
The bullet points should include a few essential keywords specific to sales associate positions. Some of the critical words to sprinkle into your work history bullets include being an active listener, strong communication skills, time management, customer service, and conflict resolution. You can see that Jackson has listed this in the two jobs listed in the resume.
If you’re applying for an entry-level position and don’t have strong experience, pick a few previous jobs where you’ve displayed excellent customer service, have used POS marketing or credit card processing tools, inventory management software and can upsell to customers.
How to Format this Section
Work history should always start with your recent or current position. This is known as reverse chronological order. We strongly suggest listing your employer's name, the dates of employment, and critical areas of responsibility or accomplishments – that will help support your argument for becoming a sales professional. Since we want you to keep this to a single-page resume, pick your best two previous jobs only.
Section #4 – Education
Many job candidates tend to overthink the education section, especially when applying for positions that do not require secondary or professional degrees. Depending on the industry, a sales associate will likely require a high school diploma or a GED certificate. This is applicable with most retail sales associate positions.
The critical item to remember here is that prospective employers will likely skip this section – as it's more important for the candidate to have the right sales skills and customer experience vs. education. This is true for most sales positions – but if you apply to a company that sells technical services or products, they may require higher degrees.
How to Format This Section
On Jackson's resume sample for sales associate jobs, you'll notice that he has listed his high school diploma – as that's the highest position he has completed. If hypothetical, he was currently enrolled in college; he would note this in a cover letter – but not the resume. For this section, list the school's name, its location, the 'degree' earned, and the date of completion.
Section #5 – References
A solid reference that can speak to your ability as a closer in sales can go a long way towards convincing a company to hire you. But the simple truth is that future employers are typically never contacted by references. Most hiring managers for recruiting firms will 'check the box or use an automated software system that verifies that references are listed.
However, this doesn't imply that you should skip this section – or not give careful consideration. Each reference you include should be fully aware that you are listing them as a referral source. Speak with them and make sure to collect their updated contact information.
We'd recommend choosing three references for a sales associate position, two of whom can provide testimonials for your work history and one that provides a personal referral.
How to Format This Section
Due to privacy reasons, you don't want to document personal reference information on a resume. Write "available on request" so that the company can contact them if they receive their information directly.
Section #6 – Skills
We briefly touched on the importance of having the right skills to be a great sales associate. But let's dive a bit deeper here. The best sales professionals listen to their customer needs, identify problems they can solve, articulate the benefits of the product or service they offer, answer and mitigate customer objections, and finally – close the deal.
To accomplish these lofty goals, a great sales rep needs to have strong communication skills, be charismatic, be an exceptional listener, handle objections, accept constructive criticism, and have excellent follow-up ability.
How to Format This Section
The great thing about using a resume builder or template is the ease of formatting. For example – our sample resume posted above has the skills listed on the sidebar of the resume. Not only does this help to save space, but you'll also notice that each skill has a corresponding' ability level'. This type of attention to detail will help hiring managers to determine where you are strong – and where you can improve.
Other Sales Resume Templates
We've always believed that the best way to learn how to do something is by reviewing successful practical samples. Therefore, we've compiled a detailed group of practical sales associates and other sales-related resumes for your review.
Feel free to review the group of professionally written resumes in multiple industries. Take some time to take notes, so you can incorporate some of the techniques, language, or formatting ideas that will help amplify your resume. This will help you write the best resume and in your job search.
Final Points on Writing Sales and Retail Associate Resumes
When finding the proper sales associate position, it is critical to put your best effort forward with each document you present to potential employers. While a well-written resume will help support the application, a cover letter, and application that is seamless and tells your complete story, will be the winning package.
Always remember – a final resume should always be written and customized for the specific job you're applying to. For this reason, we recommend using a master resume to edit and personalize your content.
Here are some specific tips.
- Make sure the resume has a smooth flow – from start to finish.
- Follow the primary section structure we've listed in this article.
- Always write your resume on a plain white background with black font.
- Edit the document SEVERAL TIMES. An excellent online tool we recommend is Grammarly.com.
- Ensure its well-spaced, organized, and professional.
- Finally, read it aloud a few times before you're ready to paste the content into a resume builder or template.
By following these tips above, you can write a retail sales associate resume that is clean, organized, and attention-grabbing. Take your time with each section, paying close attention to incorporating the right action verbs and skills in the relevant sections. Finally, feel free to have a few peers (or experienced retail sales associates) review the content before you finish.