The holidays are definitely the best time of the year. We gather around with family, cherish moments with our friends and reflect on our actions of the year. This is also a great time to make purchases--thanks to the incredible sales and promotions, especially during the months of November and December. We love buying new things for ourselves and presents for our loved ones.
But is it also the employee's favorite season? I used to work at a major retail store and experienced Black Friday and the busy holiday season twice. I can assure you this was still my favorite time of the year, even while working.
Although my professional career has nothing to do with retail, I found that thanks to my retail experience, I’m a much better candidate. This experience has given me valuable lessons that I apply to all aspects of my life. So, dear retail worker, if you are currently working during the holidays, the skills you learn now will help you in your future.
The Crowded Store
During the holidays the store will always be packed. A retail employee will have to help multiple customers at a time. Take note that these customers will be in different moods. In all career environments — whether it’s corporate, independent or operations — you will have to deal with others. Communication is key. So take a crowded store to your advantage and learn how to deal with people with different personalities.
As I mentioned, people will be in different moods; some will be excited, others anxious or angry and others might just be in a hurry. Care about your customer, but don’t let their mood affect yours. Stay positive, be nice, help them and move to the next customer while being the best employee you can. If you keep this behavior, it will become a habit.
Sometimes issues will come up, and you will have to tell bad news to your customer. Learn how to deliver that message in the best way possible, and lead the conversation.
Communication, Public Relations, and Human Resources majors are not the only ones who need to learn how to communicate well with others; public speaking and good human interaction are necessary for all career fields.
Remember to focus on the customer's needs as well, and you'll find yourself caring and doing the best in/with your future projects/clients/audience and all tasks you are involved in.
The Fast-Paced Environment
Of course, there is always the pressure of doing things quickly. You want to ring up the correct number of items while giving back the correct amount of change. You may have a line of customers waiting for you just for your help, and you want to give the correct information, quickly find items and help numerous customers at a time.
This is great practice for multitasking. In a professional environment, you may sometimes find yourself doing more than what your position entails. The company might need your help in another department or your colleague could need your support on an important project.
If you can help, whatever it is, do it! Also, if you have your own business, you might have to do the job of three people instead of one. A hardworking person will try to do everything that is needed to succeed. The job has to be done, and if you know you can do it, always go for it.
You will be a master of working quickly and efficiently. We live in a society that is constantly in a rush. Time is valuable. If you can do what you are supposed to do in less time while performing at your best, then you are acing it!
Cleaning and Organizing after Closing
If you ever had to close at your retail store as an employee, then you surely understand the long nights that it encounters. During the holidays, the store will more than likely be a mess, and it may take longer than usual to reorganize it.
Cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, down stocking, organizing, printing tags... it is all part of the job. You also start paying more attention to details since you are making sure the store is ready for tomorrow.
If you develop this habit of cleaning and organizing this will definitely be at your advantage in all careers. In a corporate environment, for example, these skills will be showcased at your impeccably clean desk, at your well-arranged folders and in your ability to follow the agenda. It will also be seen in your ability to meet deadlines or keep up with schedules.
You will also see these skills extremely useful in your personal life. You may find yourself keeping your room clean more often than before or even being the organizer of an event with your friends. Organization skills will always be useful!
Details make the difference. While closing at a retail store, you may observe the small items that are missing or the tasks that are yet to be done. Having the ability to identify what is needed will definitely make you stand out from the rest of the job candidates/employees.
Engineers and architectures are an example of professionals who are usually keen for details. Practice at your retail store so you'll be capable of recognizing what needs to be done and successfully completing tasks.
What made my experience working at a retail store during the holidays even greater was definitely my co-workers. Your co-workers and you are in it together.
You may be working under pressure, but they are in your shoes as well and understand you more than anyone. Having a good relationship with them makes the difference and the job more enjoyable.
Teamwork definitely makes the dream work. Having the ability to work with others will definitely be to your advantage. From the arts to the math fields, from technology to healthcare fields, you will more than likely work with people in any professional career. All fields will appreciate a nice and healthy environment where, ideally, all employees get along well.
At your retail store, you will be learning great social skills that are needed in the workplace. Also, you’ll be learning values such as respect and support towards your co-workers and clients.
Your positive attitude and willingness to work well with others will make the difference in all scenarios. Be a great team player, be nice to your co-workers, provide support when needed and don't be afraid to ask for help.
I value the times I worked at a retail store. The people I worked with were amazing, and the tasks I had to do helped me learn skills I now take everywhere.
Remember, enjoy your job, do your best and always keep a smile. I guarantee that the skills that you are learning are valuable, and you’ll be able to apply them anywhere! And, of course, happy holidays!