How do you quit retail and move on to other careers?

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Retail Ready People - Enfield
I have worked in retail off and on for 10 of the past 15 years, and it’s time to quit. Standing/bending/folding all day is aggravating a pre-existing back problem. After a busy day, the pain is just awful.

The problem is, even though I have some experience in other fields, most employers outside of the service industry won’t even talk to me!

It is logistically and financially impossible for me to get another degree. I’ve exhausted every contact I have. I won’t be applying for disability, since I technically can work and am therefore not truly eligible. I’m out of ideas and am tired of crying in frustration.

How do I break out of service jobs and go on to other fulfilling careers? -Anna

While we have a whole tag full of job hunting advice, and we’ve talked about quitting careers and working retail before. But what about doing the opposite?

How have some of you quit retail and procured jobs in other industries?

Comments on How do you quit retail and move on to other careers?

  1. Does your retail employer have openings at their corporate HQ? I work at a retail place, in their HQ doing an office job, but I’ve seen several former store managers be given the opportunity to transition to the office. Since you’re a loyal employee, you should definitely work that connection!

    Also, try to focus on selling others on your transitional skills. These are the things that aren’t specific to one industry or career path or job title. I won’t lie- it’s an uphill battle to convince someone that being a retail employee qualifies you for a non-service job. But it IS possible. You just have to work harder to get your foot in the door. Transitional skills include (I assume, given your position): your ability to communicate clearly, efficiently, and with patience and grace despite stressful situations and unhappy customers, your ability to prioritize multiple conflicting tasks on a tight deadline, your tolerance to a chaotic and demanding work environment, your ability to learn quickly and adapt, your poise and self-confidence in dealing with very different kinds of people, your conflict resolution skills, time management/product management/people management/scheduling/etc. skills…you get the idea.

    I was able to transition from barista to executive assistant to content management and copywriting, doing this. It took a decade, but it DID happen, and it can happen for you, too.

  2. Hey! I didn’t finish college. I worked in retail for 11 years. I worked my way up from an associate to a store manager. I worked for different retailers. When I was going through a crisis on taking on, what my parents described as, “a real job,” I decided to go for it with all my guts. I interviewed at small companies. Sales companies. Project manager companies. I’m a quick learner so I would study their industry. I would customer service them. Make them love me as I made customers love me. I’m quick and fast on my feet with what to say and since I studied the industry they were in I would make sales plans/marketing approaches for their industry they may have not thought of yet.

    Marketing and Sales are always easy to get into when you work in retail. You know how to talk to people and you know how to sell.

    Another one of my friends was a store manager for bath and body works and became a receptionist for a spa. She knew how to take care of skin and what products were best.

    Sell yourself like you would a product. Tell them why they need you and tell them ideas they havent thought of. I have worked as a marketing coordinator for three years. I learned photoshop my first year as well as managing a website. I say I can do it and I learn (the internet is an amazing piece of technology) and I’m still here progressing and always thinking outside the box. I do most of my work before the end of day because retail you were always on your feet… I finish all my work before 1pm. Tell your office manager in the interview how working retail makes you work well in fast paced environments. Smaller companies are more likely to give you the chance without a degree…and I work better than most kids coming in with a degree. It’s about hard work and the retail work force knows about hard work and dealing with people 😉

  3. My husband successfully made this transition 2 years ago. One thing that helped was focusing on skills he had outside of his traditional retail duties. He wrote for online publications and small magazines and ran the social media and blog for the small business he worked for. Those skills translated on his resume well enough to get him an interview for a job as a technical editor and his people skills allowed him to impress the interviewer. He knew enough to get the job and was able to learn anything else he didn’t know quickly. It can be done.

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