For the retail industry, (changing their) image really is everything

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By Caitlin Kinahan, project manager in the Retail & Hospitality vertical at Personified

On the off chance you haven’t turned on the TV, read your email, opened the mailbox or looked at any of the thousands of apps available on your smartphone, we’ll provide the news flash: The holidays are here. For many people, the holidays bring with them warm and fuzzy memories of the past and anticipation for approaching festivities; but for a lot of folks, it also brings an anxiety of how to pay for it all. The good news is that with the holidays comes holiday hiring — generally part-time, short-term positions with any of a million retailers in need of a few hundred extra sets of hands.

But what if retail’s not for you? You couldn’t care less about whether peplum or A-line makes you look thinner or if stilettos really are the new black. Or what if you need something more permanent than a part-time, temporary job ringing up shoppers desperate to get their hands on whatever equates to this year’s Elmo? Is all hope lost?

Not by a long shot. Retail, as we traditionally think of it, is changing. At the recent Annual Summit in Chicago, National Retail Federation President and CEO Matt Shay spoke at length about the bad rap that retail has gotten in the employment sector. The perception, he stated (and I think many would agree), is that “the retail industry doesn’t create good jobs,” but rather offers only jobs that are “low-paying…low-tech, dead-end jobs,” even though the long-term and more recent employment and industry data prove otherwise. They’ve even created a new website, “This is Retail,” to combat the antiquated image and provide dubious job seekers the chance to learn about the new face of retail as an industry ripe not just with jobs, but with careers.

Retail positions beyond sales
What the NRF and many retailers want you to know is that their industry, which supports one in four American jobs, is the opposite of a dead end: it is growing exponentially and in a direction far different than before. Did you know for example, that 44 percent of retail employees are actually in positions other than sales?

To illustrate the point further, consider this: in 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the retail industry employed:

Many industries need retail workers
Even the types of businesses and sectors that make up the retail industry span beyond the traditional perception of Big Box and Boutique. The grocery retail sector for example, is one of the largest employers of retail professionals. Web-based retail companies have had the highest rate of employment growth at 145 percent over the last 10 years.

After department, clothing and accessories, the largest employers of retail workers include:

  • Building material and garden supply
  • Health and personal care
  • Electronics and appliance
  • Auto parts, accessories and tires
  • Furniture and home furnishings
  • Nonstore retailers
  • Office supplies, stationary and gifts
  • Sporting goods

And in case you still have any doubts about whether the retail industry might be worth a second look as a place to plant your career roots and grow, see if you can answer this question: What was the No. 2 wealth-producing industry of 2013? You guessed it: retail. The fashion and retail industries produced the second largest number of billionaires (146 to be precise) on the 2013 Forbes Billionaires List (Investments was No. 1).

So while part-time, temporary opportunities in the retail industry are plentiful right now, and truly one of the best options for earning the money you need for all that holiday cheer, don’t be fooled by the outdated perception that retail only offers those “low-paying, low-tech, dead-end jobs.”

Personified is a division of CareerBuilder which specializes in candidate sourcing, engagement and screening. Since 2008, Personified has worked on nearly 20,000 engagements with over 150 employees in 8 countries around the world. Find out more about what we do and how we can make a difference in your recruitment process at If you’re reconsidering your skills and wondering if a career in retail might be right for you, search retail jobs on, a CareerBuilder company. 

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