What is this career about?
A career in a department can virtually take you anywhere. There are many positions, even within a single store. Many department stores are chains, and that means that regional management and corporate offices are also involved. If you’re thinking of starting a career in a department store, there are a lot of opportunities, and most of them can turn into better opportunities in the future. A department store career might not seem glamorous at first, but there are a lot of specialty jobs in this niche, and many of them lead to management and better paying opportunities.
What growth is likely?
It’s true that certain stores have seen struggles over the past several years. JCPenney is one of these. However, these stores have a broad appeal and even if changes do come to individual stores, this is an industry where there will be plenty of opportunities for years to come.
Right now, there are about 4.5 million retail employees in the U.S., and as the economy expands and wages of workers go up, this number is likely to grow. Roughly one-third of these employees are part time. It’s likely that there will be shifts in which stores remain dominant and which ones see the largest amount of growth, but growth is a very sure thing. Many stores already have large online presences, but this is something that is likely to expand in the future, creating a different kind of job opportunity for many individuals.
This job can start out paying near minimum wage to about $8.50 an hour, but department managers can see upward of $30 per hour if they have been with the company for a prolonged period of time. Store and general managers can make $100,000 a year or more if the store is a top performer. Being a strong leader and taking the right steps for the good of the company and your employees is a must if this is the path you wish to pursue. As you can see, there are a wide array of job and pay opportunities, and being a great employee will help put you on the higher end of this spectrum.
The great part about a career within a department store is the fact that these stores are very large and there are a lot of supervisory and management level positions at each location. The large amount of turnover that is sometimes seen can lead to a higher paying job.
How to succeed?
Education is not a huge determinant when it comes to whether or not you will succeed in a job within a department store. Instead, having great people skills, being able to communicate well, stay positive even during stressful periods of time, and being organized are all key traits in determining your level of success. Having a diploma, or even a collegiate degree can help as you move upward in the ranks toward management.
Your job application is the first step toward success. Today, the vast majority of these are filled out and submitted online. Take your time with it, give thoughtful and honest answers, and be sure that everything is accurate before submitting it. List any experience and skills you have that will be relevant toward your desired career. If you don’t hear anything right away, don’t worry. There are a lot of applicants, and sometimes it can take several days before your application is processed. Wait 10 to 14 days before following up, and do so in person. Go to the customer service desk and ask to speak to the hiring manager. They might be busy at that moment, but if you are able to speak to them, be polite and professional. At the interview, be sure to have a few of your own questions for the end. Write them down so you don’t forget. Having questions shows that you are interested, and this is a good thing.
If and when you get a job offer, be prepared to work hard and show that they made the right decision. Your job is to help customers find exactly what they are looking for, even if they didn’t know that they were looking for it. Being a motivated and dedicated worker will put you heads and shoulders above your coworkers, and this can spell plenty of opportunities for advancement in the future as you grow your career.
Who should apply?
Most department stores require their applicants to be 18 years of age or older before applying. You do not need to have any formal education to secure a job here, but having a high school diploma gives you an advantage over other applicants. If you want a job in management, a college degree can be helpful. Usually, an associate’s degree is more than adequate to advance into this track. This is an entry level position, but having experience can be quite helpful. Anything in retail can help hiring managers form a better opinion of what you’re capable of. This can even be a helpful edge when it comes to negotiating starting pay. If you have an interest in anything like electronics, houseware, clothing, appliances, furniture, or even sporting goods.
When you apply for a career at a department store, you can pursue any number of areas of concentration. Department stores have a virtually limitless number of items for sale, and specializing in a specific department can help you to pinpoint which direction you want to go in and help you formulate a more pointed career direction.
There is quite a bit of difference when it comes to certain store. Stores like Sears have different hiring processes than a higher end shop like Nieman Marcus will have. These stores have different clientele, and as such, will have different hiring processes. When you apply at one of the higher end stores, having a stronger resume and better experience will help you to gain an edge.