Retail managers: 5 ways to show clarity on your resume

By Michael Howard

At the risk of stating the obvious, it's extremely important that everyone who reads your resume can fully understand every aspect of it. If they don't understand parts of it, it's less likely they will consider you qualified for whatever they're recruiting for.

I review hundreds of retail management resumes every year and I regularly see information that I doubt every reader will understand. Having worked with clients from nearly every major retail company in North America, I have fairly broad knowledge of the terminology used by different retailers, and yet I still see stuff I don't recognize.

Here are 5 things to think about if you want your resume understood by all readers:


I see acronyms on resumes all the time, and I'm sure you do as well. When I design a resume, I may use LY for last year, but that's probably about it. (Actually, sometimes I'll use EBITDA too because spelling it out takes up a lot of space!)

Why stop there? Doesn't everyone know what ADT and UPT are? I'm sure most recruiters do but why take the chance? 

For example, average dollars-per-transaction is a very common metric in retail, but some retailers call it average sale, average dollars-per-sale, average basket, average ticket, etc. As you can image, the acronyms that go along with that could confuse anyone. Same with units-per-transaction (UPT), or items-per-transaction (IPT).

It's not just key performance indicators either. Companies use acronyms for many things, such as training programs, computer systems, weekly reports, etc. 

It's always better to spell it out or just say what it is (assistant manager training program, rather than ASMLDP) because it's unlikely everyone will know what you're talking about.


Most retail companies use the same job titles - assistant store manager, store manager, district manager, and regional manager/director/VP - but some don't. 

Target, for example, uses "executive team leader" for assistant store manager, "store team leader" for store manager, and so on. Macy's is another example - they use "vice president - store manager" for store manager.

While most retail recruiters have extensive knowledge and experience in the field, and probably know what an executive team leader at Target really is, why take the chance?

Most people don't consider assistant managers in any company, retail or otherwise, to be an "executive" position so it's possible someone could see that on your resume and think you're over-qualified for that store manager position you're applying for.

I recommend making it clear on your resume so there's no confusion, like this:

Executive Team Leader (Assistant Store Manager)


While it's important to make sure the reader understands what your job title really is, it's equally important that they understand the job level you're at. 

Again, most retailers use the same levels - store managers report to district managers, district managers report to regional managers, etc. - but some don't. Many companies with large stores that draw from a wider area don't have districts, while others, such as Target, add additional layers (they have stores>districts>groups>regions).

So how do you make sure the reader understands where you sat in the organizational structure? You clearly describe your accountability and, possibly, include who you reported to. 

Here's an example of someone who wants it known she's a true regional manager, not a district manager in disguise:

Regional Manager
- Oversaw a region with 37 stores in 5 districts. Provided leadership and direction to a team of 1800+ including 5 district managers. Reported to the national director of stores.


Some people include the company's internal volume category (ie. A-volume store) rather than the actual sales volume, usually in situations where they can't include the sales volume due to confidentiality concerns. There's nothing really "wrong" with that but keep in mind that it doesn't tell the reader as much as the actual sales volume tells them. 

Recruiters want to know your sales volume because it allows them to align you with potential opportunities in their company. There's a huge difference between someone who has managed a $2M store and one who has managed a $75M store (there's even a pretty big difference between a $50M store and a $75M store).

I strongly recommend, whenever possible, using the actual volume you were accountable for rather than A-volume, etc. Those categories tell the reader something, but they're different from retailer to retailer so it doesn't tell them everything they want to know.


This is a pet peeve of mine, but unfortunately I see it quite often. Why do people put their store number on their resume? Unless you're applying internally, it's highly unlikely anyone will know anything about Store #561. (Even if they used to work for your company, they've probably forgotten which one was 561.)

The store number doesn't tell the reader where the store was located, how big the store was, its staff size or sales volume, or where it ranked in the company. 

Leave it out and include that other information yourself - unless, of course, you're applying internally.

The bottom line for clarity is this - don't assume the person who reads your resume uses the same terminology you do. Not all retailers operate the same way and you don't want to leave your reader with a big question mark over their head.


Michael Howard

Michael Howard is a professional resume writer working exclusively with store managers, district managers, regional managers, and other retail leaders from across North America. Visit for details or follow him on Twitter.


Today's Retail News From Around The Web: September 26, 2014