After getting a job in the retail industry, the next step (for most people) will be that of seeking promotions. Otherwise you will have hit a career dead-end: where you keep on working, year after year, without any sort of career advancement. Yet as many individuals who work in the retail industry will tell you, getting promotions is not always easy. You find too many people competing for the few managerial jobs that are available – meaning that in the final analysis, some have to miss out on promotions. Take, for instance, a scenario where a retail company hires some 500 store clerks, yet it has only 30 store floor supervisor roles. This would mean that only 30 out of the 500 store clerks who were originally hired would have a chance of being promoted to supervisory roles (meaning that the other 470 would have to get stuck in a dead-end or quit). Given that sort of reality, the question that arises for the average retail industry work is on what they can do, in order to earn promotions. And that is the question we will be attempting to answer in this article.
Without further ado, if you wish to earn promotions while working in the retail industry, you need to:
- Improve your skills continually: To earn a promotion, you have to demonstrate that you can add more value. And one way of doing so is by improving your skills. Take, for instance, a scenario where you were hired as a store clerk on the strength of your associate degree. Then you acquire a masters degree after 5 years. Wouldn’t it perhaps qualify you for a mid-level managerial role? Acquiring additional qualifications can really help you move from one level to the other in the food chain. Sometimes though, it is not even about acquiring papers, but rather just about getting better at what you do. As you become better at your role, your employer may eventually get persuaded that you would be more useful watching over others performing the role – which would translate into a promotion. But you also have to be aware of the fact that being promoted doesn’t always necessarily mean being put in charge of others. At times, being promoted may just mean being given additional responsibility (and hopefully a bigger paycheck to go with it). Either way, improving your skills enhances your chances of being promoted considerably. While at it, we need to mention that if it is a new qualification you have acquired, you need to get your employer to officially know about it. Like for instance, if you have just acquired a higher degree, you need to get your employer to know about it – perhaps by submitting an updated resume, with the new qualification listed on it. Otherwise it will be of no use when it comes to promotion considerations.
- Exhibit leadership qualities: When an employer is looking for an employee to be promoted, they are likely to go for one who exhibits leadership qualities. You exhibit leadership qualities (mostly) by way of being responsible. Just by consistently acting in a responsible manner, you considerably increase your chances of being promoted.
- Network extensively: This is a different way of saying that you need to play office politics effectively. People are usually advised to keep off office politics. But when you come to think of it, there is really no way of keeping off office politics completely. Offices/workplaces (including those in the retail industry) are made up of human beings, and human beings are political animals. The best you can do is ensure that you don’t engage in negative office politics and practices like backstabbing or rumor-mongering. If factions arise, you need to ensure that you align yourself with the faction that is likely to aid you in your pursuit of a promotion, without antagonizing the other factions or without burning bridges.
- Apply for higher positions (when they fall vacant): This is really the only way in which you can demonstrate that you are interested in a promotion! Otherwise if you don’t make an effort to apply for the higher positions when they fall vacant, your employer may get the impression that you are perfectly contented with the ‘lowly’ position you are currently occupying. Then you may start wondering why you are being bypassed for promotions – but how do you expect to be promoted if you don’t show interest in higher positions?
- Think outside the box: You don’t necessarily have to earn all your promotions within one company. It is possible to start as a store clerk at company X, then become a store floor supervisor at company Y before eventually becoming a line manager at company Z. So you would be banking on the experience/skills acquired as a store clerk in company X while applying for a store floor supervisory role at company Y. And you would be similarly banking on the experience/skills acquired as a store floor supervisor at company Y while applying for a line manager role at company Z. But if you stay at company X all along, you may never move beyond the store clerk level. What we are saying here is this: if you are looking for a promotion in the retail industry, and a higher position (that you feel qualified for) arises at another company, consider applying for it. Otherwise the managers at the company you started at may have difficulties in visualizing you as anything else other than a clerk — or whatever other ‘lowly’ position you started out at…