When 1st Lt. Mario Nino left the Army in July, he didn’t imagine his experience as an interim company commander would land him a job in retail. Who does, when retail seems to mean low pay to work behind the register or in the stock room?
Nino found out otherwise. Through personal connections, he landed a job as veteran recruiting program manager for Sears Holdings.
“I found … all these hidden opportunities that are there behind the storefront,” he said.
“You look at the process that makes retail happen: How did this washer/dryer get here, where did it come from, how did they decide to put it in this particular place in the store, and who planned all of that? Behind each of those questions there are about 3,000 employees,” he said. “I’d never even thought of that.”
Experts say Nino’s experience is right on the money.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that job-seekers judge a company by name alone. You take a company like Sears and after nine or 10 years in the service you say, ‘I don’t want to work behind the counter,’ ” said Kevin O’Brien, managing partner of Veteran Recruiting Services, a producer of online career fairs for the military community. “But these are massive companies with all kinds of opportunities — everything from lawyers to doctors to administrative assistants.”
Surprise - it's retail
What’s really out there? We found these seven unexpected retail jobs in ads posted during March 2013:
Macy’s Logistics: Manager, Operations — This person provides guidance on daily operations and ensures everyone is responsible and accountable for safety and health, encouraging a safe workplace by establishing team pride. Directs supervisors in moving merchandise, oversees teams and makes sure operations stick to budgets. Makes sure employees are trained, coaches and mentors, prioritizes for speed and efficiency. In short, retail logistics looks a lot like military logistics, and it’s a function in high demand by practically every large retailer. Required: Excellent demonstrated organizational, problem-solving, decision-making and leadership skills.
Bed Bath & Beyond: Business System Analyst — The business system analyst focuses on inventory and warehouse management. This takes hands-on expertise in inventory and warehouse management systems, along with experience leading software development projects. The job calls for experience in technical design, solutions architecture and practical use of object-oriented design/modeling. For those who have done technical work in the military, this is a “retail” job that goes well beyond the $10-an-hour sales position. Supply chain, warehouse and distribution, project life cycle development — all of these organizational and leadership tasks will look familiar. Required: Knowledge of supply-chain optimization concepts. Working knowledge of warehouse management and distribution systems.
Target: Seasonal Medical Assistant — Not the kind of thing you think of when staring at Target’s big red dot, yet health care is a big part of this retailer’s offerings. Some Target stores have medical personnel on hand to treat less severe injuries, colds, vaccinations and other minor medical needs. The medical assistant performs these duties while also managing schedules to respect patients’ wait times. There’s an administrative aspect as well, ensuring that checkout goes smoothly and payment is rendered as appropriate. Required: Successful completion of a medical assisting program.
Lowe’s: Financial Analyst — The Financial Planning and Analysis group manages key business and financial objectives. This is where long-range planning gets done, along with annual budgeting and forecasting processes, strategic analysis and operational initiatives. The financial analyst merchandising position looks at products and store investment decisions. Financial modeling guides much of the work, with statistical tools that examine merchandising and finance, program performance and the like. What do we sell, how do we sell it, can we sell more? Required: Bachelor’s degree in business, finance or economics.
Dick’s Sporting Goods, Maintenance Tech 1st Shift — This worker performs preventive maintenance on building systems, conveyors, forklifts and other systems to keep them up and running properly. The maintenance tech provides status reports, cleans up work areas and follows safety protocols. This is demanding physical work. Required: Ability to repeatedly bend, stoop, reach, stand, push, pull and lift cartons weighing approximately 10 to 50 pounds.
Michael’s: Manager, Pricing Optimization — An analytics position: Determine prices and promotions, sales and clearance items as well as changes to pricing. Heavy on the math skills, highly detail-oriented. This calls for the ability to work across different functions, such as merchandising, marketing and the stores themselves. Required: BS in business, math, statistics or engineering; MBA preferred.
Under Armour: Customer Service Rep, Germany/Austria — Not all retail work is stateside. Sports apparel maker Under Armour will send the right person abroad as a customer service rep. The work is as expected: Respond to customer inquiries, keep track of orders, communicate with sales reps. Plus, you’ll be in Europe. Required: Native German and fluency in English are required. Vocational degree and two or more years’ customer service experience in a related industry.
How to find these jobs
Where to find these off-the-beaten-track retail jobs? Career fairs draw some of the most veteran-friendly retailers: Best Buy, Walmart, Lowe’s, Macy’s. Online job boards work, but personal connections work better, O’Brien said.
“Anyone can go to the job board and apply, but it’s best to find a connection. Go to the events and start to build your network. Go to LinkedIn and find out who the hiring managers are,” O’Brien said.
Most of all, keep an open mind.
“The biggest challenge is in making veterans understand that when you see a company like Lowe’s, they are not just looking for you to jump behind a register,” O’Brien said.