I recently started working at a retail job (that I LOVE!) and I’ve noticed that it is a lot different from what I’ve expected. So, I put together a list of everything that people should tell you but don’t when you’re hired to work a retail job.
1. Your feet will fall off from pain.
No, I totally made that up! But it will hurt like a b-word until you’re used to working on your feet all the time. Also, wash your shoes regularly because they’ll start to smell terrible. And pedicures are essential (but do them yourself because ain’t nobody got money for that).
2. Your coworkers are your greatest allies.
They will come to your rescue on the battlefield – I mean the work floor – whenever you need it. If you ever get a customer you don’t know how to deal with, pull aside a coworker and ask (or better yet, a manager because they know everything). Don’t feel stupid for asking; you’re new, it’s not expected that you know everything right away. It will be way better if you just ask for help rather than stumble through trying to figure something out. You won’t be fired for asking for help, I promise.
3. Don’t. Make. Enemies.
Whatever you do, remain polite to the customer and to your coworkers. If you make enemies with the customer, it looks bad on the store you represent. If you make enemies with your coworkers, they’re liable to stop assisting you so kindly when you need help. All and all, just be friendly to everyone, even when they don’t return the favour. If you find this hard to do, please don’t work retail.
4. Pack yourself some food!
I’m hungry 24/7 and I always forget this rule! Also, if you work at a mall like I do, try to avoid eating at the food court all the time. It eats your money (ha ha, get it?) and it isn’t super healthy for you either (sorry Jared the Subway guy). I usually make myself a salad and pack some granola bars because it’s fast, easy and cheap – not unlike a hooker.
5. Please for the love of God don’t be late.
If you have a scheduling conflict, LET SOMEONE KNOW! It’s better to work it out ahead of time than to freak out at the last minute and call in saying you’re going to be late, trust me. PLUS, don’t rely on bus schedules to get you there on time. Plan ahead and leave early because you never know what’s going to happen.
6. You will feel either REALLY happy when you get off work or REALLY miserable.
There’s no in-between. Either you still have that “Hi-how-are-you-may-I-help-you?” smile and attitude going on or you’re dead tired and just want popcorn and Netflix. Personally, I’m usually the first one but there have definitely been some days when I just wanted to sleep for 78 hours straight.
7. You can still have a life.
I have TWO jobs and I still make time for friends, class, homework and hobbies (like writing lists like this one). Maybe you’re going to have to cut back on the less important things a bit, but remember that it’s important to still have “you time”. If you need a personal day (like something tragical happened, not “I want to go get my hair done”) then your boss will understand.
8. You will stop caring about your appearance at work.
Sorry, but if I’m up all night doing an assignment, the forecast for work the next day will be a 100% chance of messy bun and no makeup. If my tired and puffy eyes bother you, I can’t help ya.
9. If you fuck up, it’s okay; don’t panic.
Everyone messes up sometimes because hey, we’re human! If you mess up royally, it’s not a big deal so long as you get help right away. It’s no use hiding your errors because you will be found out and the consequences will be much worse than they would have been if you had fessed up right away. Just admit you made a mistake and ask for help to avoid making the same mistake in the future.
10. You WILL have to deal with difficult people, so you might as well get used to it.
Customers can be seemingly unreasonable at times. Remember to stay professional and to just deal with them calmly. If they start making a fuss over something you cannot help them with or control, apologize profusely and get your manager to help you. Mentioning that you’re new also doesn’t hurt. SIDE NOTE: just because the customer is always right doesn’t mean they should ever be allowed to make you feel uncomfortable or violated. If someone invades your space in a way that makes you uncomfortable, tell your boss right away. (An example of this wouldn’t be someone yelling at you except in extreme cases… I was thinking more along the lines of someone grabbing you inappropriately. That’s never okay.)
So there you have it.
Did I mention bring food? It’s important.