Strategy and the Quandary of Sears ex-employees

The other day I read that within this decade, experts expect that many American malls will be empty (and I think we can assume that the Canadian experience will be similar enough to take note).

And who hasn't heard of the demise of Sears, with some 12,000 people across Canada soon losing their jobs?

The truth seems obvious: brick and mortar retail isn't holding up against the likes of Amazon and other internet-based shopping experiences.

If you know someone who is one of the 12,000 soon to be Sears ex-employees, do share this blog post with them. If there's a time a job hunter needed support, this is it: competing against a high influx of similarly experienced people is daunting.


The resume of old was a historical document, listing each job held, responsibilities of each position, with no info eliminated; however, today's resume is a stategic document, still listing the positions one has held, but with a spin.

What is the value of telling the reader that you used a point of sale (POS) cash register if the employer doesn't use one of these? Strategy means that info must be reinterpreted to demonstrate transferability or direct applicability. Here's what I mean:

  • Used advanced technology to process transactions - 12 different options - up to 100 times per day; over tenure, successfully learned 3 different versions and served as team's expert in each.

This bullet, still talking about using a POS system, uses strategy to demonstrate adaptability, tech-savvy skills, and serving as a team's top user of technology. It showcases lots of transferable skills.

However, if you're not applying to a position where using complex technology is useful, then you wouldn't use this bullet.

Perhaps you're applying to an Account Manager sales position. Here's another way to use your retail experience to demonstrate your suitability:

  • Upgraded sales skills annually, attending weekend workshops delivered by noted sales leader "Top Sales Inc.," and reliably led in department of 20 sales associates with highest dollar sales, 3 out of 4 quarters over the last 5 years.

Defining your performance with strategic content and context is what will get your foot in the door with an invitation to an interview. Strategy will distinguish you from your competition, whether you are in sales, customer service, procurement, training, people management, operations management, finance, or maintenance.

As a resume writer I put myself in the employer's/recruiter's shoes to discern what the position truly needs from a potential hire. And as I write, I make it as easy as possible for the reader to determine that my client is an ideal applicant. This is what each job hunter must do to "cut through the noise" of many job applicants.

It's not colour in your resume or delivering your resume to Human Resources with a box of chocolates that will distinguish you; it's demonstrating that there is real value in hiring you.

P.S. Along with strategy, there is a second piece to a strong submission in today's recruitment process: knowing how to navigate applicant tracking systems. For lots of details info, search "applicant tracking system" in the search window on the right hand side of my website page.

Canadian Retail Woes as Target, Sony, Mexx Leave

This week's news of retailers Mexx, Sony, and newcomer Target all deciding to pull out of Canada has likely put countless families on edge. Target alone employed 17,600 Canadians, Sony another 90 and Mexx another 1785.

That's a lot of people in the retail sector out looking for a new gig. If there was ever a time to improve one's resume, for those in retail from customer service reps to managers, it's now.

Some will stay in retail, and some will take this opportunity to go in a new direction. These two resumes will look very different: one will be more straightforward and the other will focus on transferable skills.

Here are a few examples of retail-focused bullets:

  • Successfully learned to use complex Point-of-Sale (POS) technology that processed sales, returns, gift cards, vouchers, coupons; as early adaptor, sought out by colleagues to help them process transactions.
  • Completed employer-sponsored training, 8 self-admininstered, web-based modules on customer service covering, for example, body language, choice of words, urgency and friendliness, professtionalism, and dealing with conflict.

Here are a few examples of bullets created for someone transitioning out of retail and into an admininstrative role:

  • Earned reputation as go-to resource for using proprietary software; learn and apply technical knowledge / use of new software quickly with affinity for technology.
  • Responded to customer inquiries with urgency and enthusiasm, completing extensive training and consistently upholding employer's corporate goals through customer service vision.

Both people held Customer Service Rep roles, but one is sticking to retail and the other wants a new direction. Although these bullets may need tweaking according to the actual job posting applied to, they provide insight into showcasing relevant skills and experience, reflecting language appropriate to each role.

Feel free to adapt these bullets for your own job search, and if you'd like to saturate your resume with bullets that go far beyond the typical, give me a call!