Sunday, June 28, 2009

Over Qualified.

Everyone either chooses their career or they have their career chosen for them. Either way it's what they do. Those of you that know me know that I am a General Manager of a "retail store". (I will explain the quotes later.) I was raised with both of my parents being "retail" managers. My first job, besides KFC, was selling suits in a "retail store". While working through high school I realized that "retail" was something that I enjoyed and it was something that I was good at. I spent time learning from those around me and always looked for ways to move up and to better impact the business. On a personal note I was fully able to understand what my dad went through every day when he went to work. It gave me a sense of respect for the hard work that both of my parents had done in order to take care of their family. My dad and I never run out of "retail" topics to talk about. A sort of bond. About 5 years ago I had the opportunity to get out of "retail" and get into wholesale. This was a wonderful opportunity. This allowed me to better understand "retail" and educated me on ways to make "retail" more than JUST "retail". I was able to learn the business, gain an appreciation for product and the process. About a 1 1/2 years ago it was time for me to find something new to do. I did not want to get back into "retail". Been there, done that. However, remembering what I had learned over the previous 4 years I knew that I could make an impact on a retailer. Here's the quote explanation. For those not in "retail", "retail" is when someone opens the doors, clothes are on shelves, pesky sales people are ready to sell (or do nothing) and then they fold clothes and go home. For those in "retail" they know that there is MUCH more to it. Not to say that some retailers don't operate this way or that certain employees don't view their job this way. It's to say that the true industry of RETAIL is much, much more complex. Some retailers higher people based on the "warm body" theory. I have never had the desire to be a part of that. I have always wanted to work retail in which each member of the company is able to make a contribution based on their efforts, brain power, and good 'ole fashion hard work. I give 100% every day I go to work in order to impact the business each day.

I say all of the above to preface an occurrence that happened to me today. One of the sales associates was ringing up a customer who had two friends with him. Kids, meaning they probably had just graduated college. I was doing something on one of the registers and overheard the following conversation.

Girl: "well I mean I could work "retail"'

Guy: "why would you want to do that?"

Girl: "well I mean, if I want to own one, I should probably work in one, right?"

Guy: "I guess."

Girl: "maybe your right, I am extremely over qualified for that"

I had to bite my tongue right there. Are you kidding me? So many things wrong with this conversation. 1) You are standing in a retail store around people who work in the retail store! 2) What makes you over qualified? The fact that you know nothing about retail? 3) I had an earlier interaction with the girl. Based on this interaction I would never hire her. College graduate or not. You see, working in the RETAIL BUSINESS is about more than just being smart. It's about having a personality, being able to be flexible, being strategic, hard working, motivated, etc.

Everybody that works with me in my store is hired based on how they can bring the store to the next level. Not just because they are a body who thinks they can work retail.

Did I take this incident a little personally? Maybe a little. But that is because I take everything I do personally.

2 lessons can be learned from this. 1) Don't think that you are better than someone while you are in their presence - it's rude. 2) Never say you are over qualified for something you know nothing about.

Thanks for reading.




Lisa said...

Quite the novel James. JK I'm not sure how you were able to bite your tongue. Guess that's why i will never be able to work "retail". I would never be able to keep my mouth shut. LOL

the rains family said...

Yay James! I'm so glad you wrote this... and I 100% agree with you. "Retail" is probably the hardest job I have ever had (aside from being a wife and mommy)... I worked in the industry for about 7 years before I started teaching. And honestly, I would say teaching isn't even as hard. It is different, has its challenges, for sure, but I think it's not challenging in the same way. For starters, people appreciate what I do as a teacher... there was no appreciation for what I did as a "retailer."

You are, by far, the best "employer" or manager I have ever had. You have an insane ability to flex your interaction with your customers to meet their individual needs. And you for sure know how to motivate and take care of your team.

So, anyway... know that I totally appreciate you and everything you do. And, I sincerely hope that I was never the type of employee that was a "warm body." Of course there was the "little" tardiness issue :), but I really did love my job at Barney's and hope that I never acted like that silly girl. Let's see what "incredible" job she ends up with... I'm sure there are people lining the streets to hire her!

How's that for a novel, Lisa? ;0)

Jen said...

I think every industry has people who think they are above those working in it! I am constantly getting people shocked that I graduated HS and that I am actually making a good living doing hair! maybe if you have a job you are just an idiot?
ps Retail is above me!!! lol

David Yee said...

now over qualified would be a college graduate working in a salon or something like that. the only thing worse would be a doctor in youth ministry...

Don and Denise Sullivan said...

You should've heard the comments I got when I started out doing my pen and ink paintings. "You're drawing with MARKERS??!?" Yeah and I'd like to see them try it. haha. I take it personally too, b/c we put so much of ourselves in what we love.

Alison said...

I have a fabulous idea - hire her to work starting the day after Thanksgiving through the first week of January! She wouldn't last 2 days, and she might be a bit more humble. She probably wouldn't have made it five minutes in the BBW stores with me all those Christmas seasons! (Not that Rugby is easier - just a different demographic, location, and traffic level)

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I am this behind on reading blogs. There isn't much else for me to state. Retail Employees are obviously more than just cleaners/straighteners and cashiers. We are consultants. We are able to discover budgets, likes and dislikes, occasions for the items bought. All of this information will help us decide what we think (which is based on many years and interactions that give us the knowledge to know what you should get) you should buy for your purchase today. Yes, there are some employees that will attempt to push more product down the customer's throat, but some due suggest items that might be logical.

Everyone in America should be legal mandated to work a customer service job for at least 6 months of their life.