What is this career about?
A career in an office supply store is not only about making sure that customers have what they need to stay productive in their own businesses, but also to suggest ways to help them become even more productive. Many office supply jobs are held at large, nationwide chains, but there are many independent and smaller or specialty stores out there, too, depending on what you are looking for. This is first and foremost a retail job, but positions in sales and management also exist, if these career routes interest you more.
What growth is likely?
There are approximately 300,000 current employees in the office supply industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this number to grow by 10 percent by the year 2022, meaning that another 30,000 jobs could be added to this field over the coming years. For those looking for a new job at the entry level, this means that there will be a lot of opportunity coming up.
Many stores, like Staples, have had to downsize in the past few years. As companies struggled through the 2008 financial crisis, many businesses looked for ways to cut costs, and office supplies was an easy place to divert money from. However, as businesses recover and the need for the basics grows, office supply stores are in a good spot to move forward again.
Starting out, the most common position in a store is that of cashier. These employees are typically part time, and usually start out at minimum wage. However, as you gain experience with the store, your hours will increase, and the amount you get paid per hour will also go up. Sales associates can expect to make between $9 and $10 per hour once they’ve been with the store a while, and managers see an average starting salary of $35,000 per year. These are all starting numbers, though, and there is plenty of upward potential, especially if you are able to secure commissions off of big sales. The more experience you gain, and the better you get at your job performance, the more heavily you can expect to be rewarded. As competition between companies grows, talent will be needed in this respect, and this promises to be a financially rewarding route if you are inclined to go this way.
How to succeed?
Because this is a retail job that entails a lot of face to face time with customers, the biggest key to success will be your ability to engage with others. You should have a friendly demeanor, a positive personality, and you should be outgoing and helpful at all times. It doesn’t matter if you are a cashier, a floor sales associate, or a store manager. All employees should be able to listen to customers and help them find what they need in a cheerful manner.
Another key part of your success in this field is to be able to ask the right questions. If you are assisting a customer in finding the right desk for their office, you should ask relevant questions. This could lead to the sale of other items, too. For example, if they are purchasing a desk, there’s a good chance that they will need a chair, too. These kinds of questions will help you to increase sales within the store and could lead to raises or promotions in the future. This is the kind of initiative that mangers look for when considering which current employees have the most potential to move upward within the company.
First though, you must secure a job. This means filling out the application to the best of your ability and doing well in an interview. You should be truthful and complete with your application, taking care to highlight any relevant skills or experience. You should also educate yourself a bit about the industry and prepare a few questions for your interviewer to indicate that you are a competitive candidate for the job. These are all little things, but they go a long way toward enhancing your career in this field.
Who should apply?
You don’t need to love office supplies or be super organized to thrive in a career in this field, but those things can’t hurt. Really, what you should be skilled in is working with people. Customers will sometimes come into a store and not know everything that they need to get their office organized or what things they need to make their home based business thrive. Being knowledgeable in the latest trends and products when it comes to office supplies is a must, and being able to ask the right questions to get a further gauge on what your customers truly need is a helpful skill, especially if you work off of commissions or are in a sales job.
If you have a passion for helping other people, this is a great place to flaunt that trait. Much of the nuances of the job and the product stock within the store can be learned as you go, but your willingness to help others is a part of your character that you may have already developed before you even begin a job here. This is typically an entry level job, and employers do appreciate employees with college degrees, but they are certainly not a necessary ingredient for success. Most companies will at least require a high school diploma or GED, though.