Retail Cover Letter Guide, with Example and Tips
The retail industry provides a wealth of career opportunities. These can include flexible, part-time and entry-level roles, through to positions in management, strategy and business development. If you’re interested in launching a career in the retail sector, your cover letter can help you to get noticed. In this article, we provide a guide to writing a perfect retail cover letter, with tips and examples for inspiration.
Why a Profession-Specific Cover Letter Matters
Writing a profession-specific cover letter can help your application stand out with hiring managers. Tailoring your cover letter to the job description and the company you’re applying to will show your suitability for the role. It can also prove your knowledge of the industry and your interest in working for the organisation. A cover letter that includes these things is likely to make a far more positive impression than a generic one.
Another reason for tailoring your cover letter for each application is to show your professionalism. Aim for a well-written, considered letter that demonstrates how you meet the job description and explains why you want the job. This can show hiring managers that you’re a mature, professional and reliable candidate.
Key Components of a Profession-Specific Cover Letter
Your cover letter is a great opportunity to explain in detail what makes you suitable for the role. You can highlight your skills and experience, and anything that makes you a stand-out candidate. Retail assistant cover letters usually include the following content:
- Details of why you want the job: Explain why the role appeals to you and your reasons for applying. This might mean writing about your career stage and ambitions, or explaining what attracts you to work for the company.
- Reference your relevant experience: List any relevant experience you have in retail. If you don’t have any previous retail experience, you could focus more on your skills (see below).
- Explain your retail skills: Outline any skills you have that are relevant to retail positions. These could be specific hard skills such as using point-of-sale equipment. They could also be soft, transferable skills such as interpersonal skills and self-confidence.
- Write about your interest in the industry: Taking an active interest in the industry can have a positive impact on your application. Whether the sector is fashion, home and gardens, technology or any other retail sector, explain why it appeals to you.
- Call to action: Add a call to action that encourages the hiring manager to contact you. This shows you’re confident of progressing to the next stage and you’re willing to enter into dialogue about the role.
Cover Letter Format
Follow this format for a cover letter that makes a strong impression with decision makers:
- Header: At the top of the letter, add your name, address, phone number and email address. Also add the name and address of the employer.
- Greeting line: Greet the hiring manager by name if you know it (for example, ‘Dear Emma Stirling’). If you don’t know the name of the hiring manager and you’re unable to find out, use ‘Dear hiring manager’.
- Introduction: In your introductory paragraph, identify the role you’re applying for, plus where and when you saw it advertised. Explain why you want the job, and what makes you a good fit for the role.
- Retail skills, experience and interest: Write a paragraph outlining your relevant skills and experience. If you’ve worked in retail before, talk about your previous roles, your responsibilities and any relevant achievements. If you haven’t worked in retail before, focus on your transferable skills or experiences that helped you to develop skills from the job description. Mention why you want to work in the specific industry sector, including any particular qualifications and interests that make you a good fit for the role.
- Call to action: Finish your letter by emphasising your enthusiasm for the role, and thanking the employer for considering your application. Add a call to action, such as encouraging the hiring manager to contact you to arrange an interview.
Sample Cover Letter for Retail Jobs
174 Exmouth Road
Dear Henry Campbell,
I’m writing to apply for the position of Retail Assistant, as advertised in the Exeter Herald on 12/01/24. The role immediately appealed to me as I’m searching for a full-time retail role and the job description matches my experience of working for electrical appliance retailers. I’m also excited about the prospect of working for a family-owned business with an excellent local reputation.
For the last three years I’ve been working as a part-time retail assistant at a large electrical retailer at Rydon Lane Retail Park. I’m now looking for a similar position with full-time hours. In my current role, I combine a shop-floor customer adviser role with processing financial transactions. My outgoing personality and interpersonal skills make me a strong salesperson, and I'm in the company’s top 10% for regional sales figures.
I’m comfortable using point-of-sale consoles and have a track record of success in upselling products such as insurance and extended warranties, and setting up personal finance plans. My academic background in computing makes me an ideal salesperson for computer hardware and software. I take an active interest in learning about the latest products and market trends, to ensure I can give the most relevant and suitable advice to customers.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my application. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the role further. Please contact me either by phone or email if you should wish to ask me anything or arrange an interview. I look forward to hearing from you.
Dos and Don’ts
- Personalise your letter: Always address your letter to a named contact if you have their name, and mention the company by name in your letter.
- Tailor your letter to the job description: Review the job description and make sure your cover letter includes reference to the skills and experience required.
- Be concise: Keep your letter to one page of A4, or approximately 300 to 400 words in a clear, readable font (size 11 or 12).
- Proofread your letter: Review your letter before sending and correct for any errors in spelling or grammar. These can undermine your application and suggest that you might lack attention to detail.
- Exaggerate your experience: If you don’t have lots of experience, resist the temptation or exaggerate or lie. If you’re applying for an entry-level role, employers won’t be looking for much experience and are more likely to focus on your skills, commitment and enthusiasm.
- Repeat your CV: Try not to repeat the content of your CV in your cover letter. Focus on different skills or achievements, or explain them from a different angle, to keep the hiring manager interested. For help with writing your retail CV, browse through our retail CV example.
- Be over-formal: Keep the formalities to a minimum. Remain professional, but get to the relevant content in your letter as soon as possible.
- Be over-confident: Over-confidence can seem like arrogance. Be confident in your abilities, but don’t presume you’re the best candidate for the role.
These tips can help your retail cover letter to stand out in a crowded field of applicants:
- Quantify your achievements: When detailing your relevant retail work experience, add figures and evidence to show your impact, such as sales figures, customer satisfaction scores, key performance indicators or awards.
- Use a beautiful cover letter design: Subtle use of colour, fonts and other design features can elevate your cover letter and make it more pleasant to read. Jobseeker has a wealth of cover letter templates and CV templates, making it easy to produce an attractive and eye-catching application.
- Contact the company for clarification: If you’re unsure about anything in the job description, contact the hiring company to ask for clarification before writing your CV and cover letter. This can help ensure your application includes all the relevant information.
Key Takeaways for a Strong Retail Cover Letter
Your cover letter for retail job applications is an excellent opportunity to showcase your skills and relevant work achievements. Review the job description and make sure your letter includes reference to the qualities and experience the hiring company is looking for. If you’re applying for an entry-level position, focus more on your skills and your passion for working in the sector the company operates in. Make sure your cover letter catches the eye of recruiters by using a clean, professional cover letter design. Sign up to access Jobseeker’s cover letter and CV examples, and start creating a beautiful job application today.