Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I work in retail doing customer service, not sales. The company is reorganizing, which means my job is at risk. How can I convince my bosses that I’m valuable in my current position when I can’t tie my work to money?
A: Dear Stranded, You won’t be.
Many people in retail don’t take initiative, because they don’t feel responsible for bringing customers into the store.
Visualize the path to the cash register you create for shoppers. For example, when a customer complained that a product she’d been buying wasn’t there, you might have introduced an alternate product, which she bought. What about the time a shopper returned an item, then bought another of any kind, at your suggestion? These actions are called “keeping the sale.”
Did the store move more product because you keep shelves restocked? Did you develop relationships with customers, who sought you out when they came back, because they trusted your knowledge of the products?
While these incidents might seem trivial and just part of your job, they reflect the sales-consciousness you want to convey. Showing your bosses how you contribute to sales and repeat business will inspire them to keep you there.
Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’m doing three jobs to pay the bills and get experience I need for my resume. All of the jobs are entry-level. What can I do so the next job isn’t a dead end? I’ve spent a lot of time on my resume, but it looks as if I’ve had three entry-level jobs.
A: Dear Striving, Holding down three jobs at once takes its toll, as you know. One of the greatest problems is that it pulls you out of the mainstream in an effort to keep up. Reset your priorities.
Focus on contact-building. Every week talk to at least two people who have what you consider good jobs. Ask questions about their company and their job. Get referrals, without using the word. Follow through on them and circle back to the person who refers you.
Make your resume propel you up by reflecting on what it takes to keep the three jobs going at the same time. Don’t just list them individually. Include a summary that treats the three jobs as one set of accomplishments. Here’s a start: “In any given week, simultaneously did thus-and-so in three different areas/departments/organizations.”