There are close to 19,000,000 people currently working for retailers, and many believe they have exciting and challenging career opportunities. For the upcoming college graduate, selecting a proper career is often a bewildering, time consuming, and emotionally draining experience. The purpose of this appendix is to assist you in considering a career in retail management. Through it we hope, you will better understand what it will take to succeed in retailing. First, we will examine the role of self evaluation in career planning. Next, we will review many different career options in retailing. Finally, we will provide help for you in preparing your resume and preparing for a job interview, regardless of the career path you choose.
SELF EVALUATION IN CAREER PLANNING
Is a retail career for you? Many students perceive only the glamorous aspects of retailing (e.g., buyers traveling to foreign markets) and do not fully comprehend that they will have to work hard. Retailers, and their employees, have to work evenings, Sundays or any time that a store is open for business. You have to work at times your friends do not. Therefore, you need to carefully evaluate your interests, aptitudes, skills, values, and goals.
Aptitudes and Skills. You may have a tremendous interest in being a professional tennis player. However, you can not hit the ball properly. Interest, while required, is not the only necessary ingredient for success; you must also possess the ability. For this reason, aptitude tests are most useful for measuring an individual's ability to perform specific skills. Your College Placement Center or Counseling Center usually has tests available to determine your aptitudes and skills. Visit your center, and there will be people there to help you.
Needs and Values. How important is money to you? How important is prestige? Are you more interested in career advancement than money? The position you secure should satisfy your needs. Values, on the other hand, are those qualities possessed by individuals that are incorporated into one's life. One test measures six basic values: economic, theoretical, aesthetic, social, political (power), and religious. For example, if you have strong social values, (a strong concern for other people), you may encounter difficulties in working for a profit-making organization. If you have a strong economic and theoretical orientation, you should consider a career in retailing. In addition, if you have an aesthetic orientation, perhaps a career in fashion merchandising can meet your needs.
Goals. Next, you should set both short-term and long-term goals. Where do you want to be in two years? Do you want to be an assistant buyer or an assistant store manager? Where do you visualize yourself being in ten years? Do you want to be a buyer, store manager, or general sales manager? While you should set realistic goals, do not set goals that are too easy to reach. Your career goals will help determine your career path.
CAREER PATHS WITH DIFFERENT TYPES OF RETAILERS
Each of the various retailers recruiting on your campus have different opportunities available. While all programs begin with some type of training program, the road taken afterwards varies by both industry and company.
A department store generally places a new college recruit in an extensive, formal training program. This program usually involves a series of rotating work assignments, together with formal training sessions. These programs range in length from two to six months. For example, the trainee will spend time in the stockroom, learning how to receive merchandise. Time is spent on the selling floor, with store management personnel, and with buyers. In this way, the trainee will learn all facets of the department store operation. Of course, opportunities for promotion are much better in larger firms than smaller ones. Competition for a position is strong, because almost all applicants are college graduates, and the unassertive person has a good chance of being overlooked.
Exhibit A.1 illustrates the career paths at a typical department store. Note there are two major career paths -- store management and merchandising.
If you elect the store management path, you will have many decisions to make that affect the store's profitability. Selecting, training, evaluation, and all other aspects of personnel management are your responsibility. You are responsible for in-store promotions, display, customer service, delivery and receiving, building maintenance and store security. In addition, there is a need to coordinate your efforts with buyers and merchandise managers in order to better meet customer needs, thus maximizing store sales.
If your inclination is toward merchandising, you can follow that career path. After spending time as an assistant buyer, you will be promoted to the position of buyer. Buyers are presented with a merchandise budget, called an open-to-buy position (you'll learn the details of the merchandise budget in Chapter 8), which can be in the millions of dollars. You have to develop appropriate buying plans for your merchandise lines. You are not only responsible for selecting the merchandise, but buyers are also responsible for selecting and negotiating with vendors. Your activities are coordinated with store managers in order to match the merchandise offerings to customer needs. As you will note in Exhibit A.1, you can progress to merchandise manager and general merchandise manager. Both paths can lead you finally to top executive positions. Retailing in Action A.1 provides a much fuller look at the job of the buyer.