For many women, working in retail is a dream come true. Not only do you get access to the hottest styles before they hit the sales floor -- at a discounted rate -- but you get to talk about clothes all day. If you're putting your bid in for a retail job, don't let your excitement about the prospects result in careless mistakes. Double-check your resume and cover letter for typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors before turning them in to your potential employer.
Short and powerful, the salutation is one of the most important aspects of your cover letter, since it names the person who will decide whether you deserve a shot at the job. Don’t address your letter to “To Whom It May Concern,” or “Ladies or Gentleman.” Your letter should speak specifically to the person who will be calling to interview candidates for the position. For, example, use “Dear Jane Doe" or "Dear Anna Smith." Before sending your letter, make sure the contact name is spelled correctly. If the job listing doesn’t mention the name you need, check the website, call the store or walk in and ask. Breaking a sweat -- if it comes to that -- to get the right name reflects positively on your character, work ethic and potential job performance. It’s a small but good way to make a great first impression.
Writing the first two or three sentences of a retail cover letter can be tricky, because you must accomplish many tasks in a small space. You’ve got to explain what job you’re applying for and why you’d be good at it, and say it in a way that immediately hooks the interviewer’s interest and makes him want to keep reading. Before you write, research the company mission statement to get an understanding of how to approach the job. For example, “I saw in the 'New York Reader' that you’re looking for a salesperson for your Brooklyn store, and so I researched your company a bit and read your mission statement. Looking back over the eight years I’ve worked in retail, the jobs I enjoyed the most were with companies that embodied the same ideals. I think I would make a valuable addition to your team, since I am enthusiastic about your core values of quality sales, dedicated customer service and creating an exciting shopping experience.”
Use the body of your retail cover letter to go into detail about why you’re the best person for the job. If you’ve been working in retail for any length of time, discuss your specific accomplishments. For example, “While working for the Wild Clothing company, I initiated a clothing exchange to benefit low-income high school students. My efforts set a new company record for annual charitable contributions, and increased our quarterly sales by 38 percent.” If you’re new to retail, or haven’t yet achieved any measurable goals, use the body of your cover letter to detail your strengths. For example, “I want a job in retail because it would allow me to apply my superior skill set. Since I am in touch with all the latest trends, I am often asked to style friends and family members. I love shopping for myself and others. As a frequent patron of retail stores, I know exactly how customers should be treated -- with friendliness, respect and an overall commitment to help them find something that makes them feel confident and attractive.”
Be assertive when closing your retail cover letter. Assume the interviewer was impressed by your letter, and wants to go to the next step in the hiring process. Write, “I’d love to meet with you and discuss this employment opportunity further. I’ll call you by Friday to set up an interview.” Don’t close with a passive, “I look forward to hearing from you,” or “Please call me when you get a chance.” Leave the impression that you aren’t taking “no” for an answer.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.