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The essential qualities store managers need

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If you’re interested in store manager jobs, it can be difficult to know where to start. Do you have the skills? Where do you apply? It's all starting to keep you awake at night. Well before you start resorting to counting sheep, don't worry, RetailChoice caught up with Julia Howgego, head of recruitment and HR at luggage retailer Tripp Ltd to ask her what she looks for in store manager candidates and how to impress with your CV and covering letter.



Q. What attracted you to working in retail?

A. The fast pace, the people, and the industry as a whole.

Q. What are you looking for when hiring for store management  jobs?

A. We have a set of clear competencies that we work to at Tripp, which I would say is more important than skills. They are:

  • Retail savvy
  • Passion
  • Leading from the front
  • Great communicator
  • Relishes the detail
  • Love for the customer

Q. What skills are important to have in retail jobs?

A. There aren’t any skills that we look for, but we do probe a lot into what the candidate is looking to do in the future. We want someone who will stay and isn’t just looking for any old job.

Q. What sort of industry knowledge impresses you in potential candidates?

A. It’s important to be aware of the market and its current climate.

Q. What kind of research should applicants do prior to an interview?

A. Candidates should have been into a store and looked on our website. They need to get a feel for the brands we sell. If they're aware of our competitors, that’s even better and shows they’ve done their research.

Q. What kind of work experience do you look for when hiring retail managers?

A. For retail manager jobs, it's good to have solid retail experience dealing face-to-face with customers, it doesn’t matter what sector of retail you've worked in, it can be in fashion jobs or FMCG jobs. It doesn’t tend to work when applicants have come from large organisations, so ideally a similar-sized business. Experience of working in department store jobs is desirable, but by no way essential.

Q. What are jobseeker dos and don’ts on their CV and covering letter?

  • Ensure that the CV is up-to-date. If you’re unemployed you should state this. Not sure how? Read how to explain gaps in your retail CV.

  • Ensure the covering letter states the correct company on it, there is nothing worse than knowing that a CV has been sent to every vacancy that’s going, it can be really off-putting.

  • It’s good to say on the covering letter what sort of job you're looking for.

  • Keep the CV to two or three pages in a fairly plain format.

  • For each position think about your key achievements, what you did as an individual to make a difference. For store management jobs, it’s good to know the number of staff you were accountable for.

Q. What kind of personalities and skills help a person to be successful in the retail industry?

A. Confident, outgoing people are attracted to the retail industry as there is so much face-to-face contact required. You have to be able to talk with people on all levels.

People who can sell — who know how to increase sales and to drive a business forward — thrive in the industry and make great retail managers.

Q. What's the working culture like at Tripp?

A. With only just over 300 staff, you're very much known as a name and not a number. There are very open lines of communication between all levels of management and stores, and as a company we encourage feedback from our staff on various issues. It’s a fun, caring company that appreciates its staff. Managing stress and a maintaining a good work-life balance is also very important to Tripp.

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