I see a lot of retail management resumes that include words or phrases that can mean different things to different people. They're still okay to use sparingly on a resume but it's important to realize that the reader may not interpret it exactly the way you mean. Here are four of the most common ones:
The word "leader" is all the rage right now. If you're on LinkedIn and have a high number of connections, you're likely to see a lot of postings about leaders and leadership skills - probably because they can be relevant to any industry.
The problem with the word leader is that it doesn't tell the reader anything. Your job level is of primary importance to recruiters, and "leader" doesn't say what job level you're at. For example, a department supervisor is a leader. An assistant store manager is a leader. A store manager is a leader. A district manager is a leader. A regional VP is a leader. A COO is a leader. And of course a president is a leader.
There's nothing wrong with calling yourself a retail leader on your resume and LinkedIn profile (if you are one) - just understand that it means very little to the reader.
The word "executive" is one that is widely over-used, in my view, and many people have different opinions on what is considered an executive.
Historically, executives were very senior managers in a company, typically vice presidents or C-level business leaders, with national scope. Anyone below the VP level would be a director or a manager (in retail, typically a regional director, regional manager, district manager, area manager, store manager, etc.).
Nowadays, many people call themselves executives even though they don't have national scope and are nowhere near the VP or C-level. I have seen district managers, store managers, and assistant store managers call themselves executives. In fact, some retailers use the word "executive" in their store-level job titles.
Here is the problem. If you use a bold headline at the top of your resume or profile that says RETAIL EXECUTIVE, recruiters will most likely expect you to be at a very senior level, probably at least at the regional level (RVP) if not higher. If you're not at that level and you've called yourself a Retail Executive, you may have lost the reader's trust right from the start, and that's no way to make a great first impression.
This is another word that is widely used on resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other job search materials. But what does it really mean? You're old?
You could call yourself a senior store manager, but that doesn't really tell the reader much. Does it mean you have at least 5 years of retail management experience? Does it mean you've reached the highest sales volume you can manage with that company? Does it mean you've simply been there the longest?
Whatever it means to you, it doesn't mean much to the reader - "5 years' experience managing a flagship store with $10M+ in annual sales" tells them much more.
4. Operations or Store Operations
In retail, "operations" could refer to two things - operations or store operations - which is why it can be confusing if you mean one thing and the recruiter thinks you mean another.
People who work in store operations are the people who are actually running the business - helping customers, processing sales, etc. - and the people who oversee them. Therefore, everyone from sales associates to assistant store managers, store managers, district managers, and regional managers could say they work in store operations (as opposed to other areas of retail such as visual presentation, buying, marketing, loss prevention, etc.).
However, there are also other positions within retail that are referred to as simply operations, and they could be at the store level or the corporate level. Many large retailers classify one of their assistant store managers as an operations manager, and that person may oversee things like scheduling, payroll, expenses, third-party contracts, loss prevention, shrink, etc. - it all depends on the company. Some retailers have district, regional, or corporate-level "operations manager" positions, overseeing similar functions but on a wider scale.
If you use the word operations (or operations manager), make sure it's clear what you mean. I have seen many resumes where the person has listed their position as operations manager, but I can't tell whether they worked in one store at the assistant manager level or a corporate office overseeing many locations.
Context and clarity are key considerations when writing your resume. Remember, not everyone knows what you know, and not all companies use the same terminology.
Best of luck!
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