Hi Joshua, I’ve been working at a high-end boutique in SoHo for about a year now while still trying to apply for corporate jobs.  Should I put this retail sales (fashion) position in my profile at all?  I’ve been told my having a retail job on my résumé might jeopardize my career path.

I’m a Communications major (1992) and have worked in sales/marketing in the past.  I’m working on toward a marketing certificate at NYU’s School of Continuing & Professional Studies.

Thanks – Victoria



You might not like that I will begin my answer to you with, “It depends.”  Don’t kick me!

It depends!

It depends on which company you are applying to. It depends on your personal brand. It depends on how full your résumé is without it.

Let’s tackle each dependency one at a time.

A Customized Résumé Is No Longer Optional In earlier posts, I mentioned that LinkedIn’s drawback is that it allows you only a single profile. In a way, this is where you might pack in as much as you can.
However, when applying for a specific company, just using a LinkedIn profile, or any other generic résumé, is not really an option.

The days of spray-and-pray are long over.

Hal Thomas, who was a guest in a recent webinar, did extensive research on  his target company. He determined that they value creativity, have a non-conservative/innovative spirit, and require blog writing as a prerequisite skill.

Therefore, he customized his application to include a link to his blog, a Wired magazine cover mock-up, and a résumé filled with creative positions.

If your target company works with fashion companies, or requires you to have frequent customer interaction, then including your retail experience might be good.

On the other hand, if the target company is more conservative, and your role would not include customer interaction, then including your retail experience adds little value.

All Decisions are Branding Decisions

A new flight attendant came up to the CEO of Southwest Airlines and said, “I would like to serve chicken salad on our flight from Chicago to Las Vegas. Will you approve that?”

To which the CEO replied, “Will serving chicken salad make us the ‘Low Cost Airline?'” The flight attendant smiled and walked away.

So now I ask you, will including retail at a high-end boutique make the Victoria you want to be obvious to other people on your résumé? The answer may very well be yes.

But to answer that question, you’ll need to know what your brand is first. Try reading Tom Peter’s original article about personal branding or read Chris Brogan’s ebook. Both are great resources to get started.

The One-Pager

I need to make this clear, I am not a résumé expert, neither in certification nor in practice. However, I have talked with enough hiring managers in my research to know that if you are first entering the workforce, there is absolutely no reason to have a résumé longer than one page.

That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about the other stuff.

However, the lower you are on the rung, the more competition. And that means the more résumés hiring managers have to read just to make one choice.

They will LOVE you for making that job easier.

If you believe you can’t fit it all into one page, then it’s time to make some executive decisions based on your personal brand. Then supplement your cover letter and résumé with links to your online résumés, like Visual CV.

I want to leave you with one thought. If we were to consider our job search as just like running a business, then the idea of strategy begins to make better sense. What I mean is that the core of every business decision is rooted in a single thought process:

Will this decision fit within my strategy?

I recommend all job seekers take a weekend and really write out a business plan with that strategy. It is a lot of work to do this; however, when you come up against decisions, it will be easy to hold it up against your plan and get your answer.

Who knows, you might get multiple offers. Now that would be a good problem to have!