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29 April 2019

Recruitment from Retail…is it Right for Me?

Before you start applying for roles, do your research and see if recruitment is the right industry for you. This article will hopefully help give you an insight into the differences between working in retail and recruitment, the skills that can be transferred from the former to the latter, and some practical advice for writing your CV and job applications.

Retail Vs Recruitment

Having a decent understanding of recruitment will help you decide if it is the right career path for you, and will help you tailor a CV and any answers to job application and interview questions. Here are some of the key differences in a recruitment job compared to retail:

Sales Technique

  • Recruiters (for the most part) need to find, contact and persuade key stakeholders to become customers (i.e. the customers rarely come to you)

  • In retail most interactions are face-to-face, whereas in recruitment most contact with clients will be over the phone initially, with meetings coming later


  • Recruitment roles are predominantly office-based, working alongside several others at a bank of computers and phones. There is also an expectation to meet with job-seekers for candidate registration meetings (normally in the office) and to go out on client visits (to employers’ premises)

  • Recruiters for the most part are fairly sociable and love their morning catch-ups over coffee!

Systems & Technology

  • To be an effective recruiter in today’s world, you need to be able to use technology to your advantage. In addition to the standard requirements of tools such as Microsoft Office and social media platforms, you will also likely have access to job-boards and candidate databases.

  • It is worth researching terms such as ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) before applying for roles

Salary, Bonuses & Benefits

  • At the time of writing, according to the Salary-Checker tool on, the average salary for a Retail Assistant in the UK is £18,653, compared to an average salary of £28,544 for a Recruitment Consultant

  • While the majority of retail jobs do not incorporate individual performance-related bonuses, almost all Recruitment Consultant jobs do; rewarding staff directly for their results through financial rewards and promotions

Transferable Skills

Working in a busy retail environment can be challenging work – especially during peak times. Perhaps most obviously, as a retail worker you would have developed skills related to customer service. But merely stating ‘customer service skills’ on a CV is unlikely land you the interview.

Think about the working requirements of a role in recruitment (as highlighted above) and the likely scenarios you could face. For example:

  • Building relationships

  • Needs-based selling

  • Conflict resolution / complaints handling

  • Problem solving

  • Creative sales / marketing techniques

Crafting Your CV

When crafting your CV, cover letters or job application answers, it’s best to give detail your skills through specific experiences. Following the STAR model is a great place to start:

  • Situation – Explain the background / context of the situation in relation to the skill.

  • Task – What was the specific problem / goal that had been set?

  • Action – What did you do to influence the end result?

  • Result – What was the final outcome and any reflections for future learning?

Don’t have a CV written yet? Click the link to download a free CV template from

Work at Reed

At Reed our purpose is…

Improving lives through work

Therefore we make sure to hire the best people into the business, provide them with industry-leading training, and reward them both financially and professionally through a structured Career Development Framework. By doing this, we ensure our staff (we call them Co-Members) are best equipped to deliver unrivalled levels of customer service to our clients and customers, regardless of their job title.

With a network of offices across the UK, there is sure to be a role in a city near you. We welcome all levels of experience; anyone without recruitment experience may even be enrolled on our Apprenticeship Programme, which included all-expenses-paid residential learning experiences at the stunning Reed Business School in the Cotswolds.

Use the links above and below this article to find out more about Life at Reed and to browse our latest vacancies in your area.