At the beginning of the summer job season, at least 13 million American workers were unemployed, an estimated 17 million were underemployed, and 3.4 million Americans have been unemployed for at least a year. The official unemployment figure for 16-24 year-olds was 20% at the beginning of the summer retail job season, but that number was estimated to actually be 45%, when taking into account the number of young people who were no longer willing to look for work. The U.S. retail industry lost 1.2 million jobs, or 7.5% of its labor force during the recession. At the start of the the 2010 retail summer job season only 10% of those lost retail jobs had been replaced. If you are easily swayed by numbers, it is easy to conclude that the summer of 2010 is not going to be a good time to find a retail job.
Retail Jobs Are Still Available
Even though there are fewer retail jobs available this summer, it doesn’t mean there are no retail jobs available at all. A quick search on any online job search sites returns open positions in the retail industry at all levels. There may be 84 people applying for every one of those positions, but at least there are retail job openings to pursue.
If you really want a retail job -- not just any old job -- then you’re going to have to get creative and aggressive in order to to beat the competition for one of those coveted summer positions. If that type of competitive activity bothers you, it might be wise to reconsider your career choice. By nature, retailing is a creative and aggressive industry. That only becomes more true when the economy is sluggish and sales are slow.
Start Small When Looking for a Job
Non-mall businesses are often surprised and delighted when unsolicited job applicants walk in their door. Don’t forget these types of smaller and independent stores when looking for your retail job this summer:
- Small outdoor strip malls
- Single stand-alone stores
- Locally owned non-franchise stores
- Large office buildings with first floor retail shopping
- Airports (because of security, you’ll need to call rather than just show up)
- Hospital gift shops
- Hotel retail stores
Smaller retailers might be impressed that you sought them out for a job, but you still need a good answer for the question, “Why do you want to work here?” You’re not going to inspire an employer of any size with “Because I need a job.” Be more creative, more specific, and more prepared with your answer to this standard interview question. Most importantly, always be sincere.
If "starting small" doesn't get you the retail paycheck you want, then try these Creative Tips for Finding a Retail Job This Summer.