Making the Transition from Retail or Hospitality into a ‘9-5’ Office Job
Since opening Thompson & Terry Recruitment in 2014, one of the most overwhelming ‘myths’ that I constantly hear from candidates is that it’s tricky to make the transition from retail or hospitality into an office job that can provide progression, security, and more sociable hours.
It really makes me cross that in the world of work that hospitality or retail workers are often seen as ‘2nd class citizens’ but, from my experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth. It would be wrong (and against GDPR) for me to mention specific candidates but thinking back to our ‘5 best ever hires’ in terms of client feedback and how they’ve progressed over the years, 4 have come from a hospitality or retail background.
What skills do candidates with retail or hospitality backgrounds typically bring
In my experience, there is no such thing in recruitment as one size fits all, but many candidates who work within hospitality or retail tend to be particularly strong on the customer service side, resilient, and able to often work under pressure at a great speed.
At 16, I worked part-time on the Meat and Fish counter at Waitrose in Abingdon; I always remember the first Christmas period that I worked, which was so busy and a number of the team were unwell. I still wasn’t trained on certain parts of the job and we had a good 30 customers waiting, and I just clicked into my stride of doing my very best to acknowledge every customer, work as quickly as possible, empathise, and LOVED the challenge. I would love to say I was special, but in reality, this example is the nature of retail and an experience many of my peers bring to the world of work.
What types of jobs should you go for
Without repeating myself, there isn’t one size that fits all and we are always happy to give specific advice to candidates, but there are more common routes. The first thing to ask yourself is ‘what do you enjoy about your current job?’ or indeed ‘what are your main strengths?’, but also ‘what is your biggest motivator to move?’. I often speak to candidates who ‘just want their weekends back’ but after a more detailed conversation we establish that progression as an example is a huge factor with so many high street branches closing.
We take lots of candidates who LOVE working with customers and keen to maintain that but looking for more routes to progress, and secondary more fixed and more sociable hours. We have placed more than 100 candidates into ‘customer service advisor’ type jobs within large employers across Oxfordshire that have structured training and a track record for candidates progressing. The reason is the skillset is quite similar but by having 500+ employees in one location, the progression isn’t just upwards but sideways also (I’ve just seen on LinkedIn somebody we placed in Customer Service is now the Marketing Manager of the same employer 5 years later).
But HOW do you make the move?
In a candidate driven market (more jobs being advertised, than candidates looking), NOW is probably one of the easier times to make the transition. Having said that, you really need to spell out how your experience is transferable and ideally in numbers; how many customers do you serve a day, are there any KPI’s, have you been promoted, is there a customer feedback score? Things like this can really make it easier for the hiring manager to see the skills you can bring.
It’s also worth remembering that your CV should say within 3 seconds what you are looking for. ‘A customer service professional seeking to transition into an office based customer service career that can provide training and longevity’ as an example.
Here is some useful help when writing your CV and preparing for an interview but, as I said previously in the blog, this is a sweet spot for our recruitment business so whether you are an employer or candidate please do feel free to reach out directly if any support or advice would be useful.