How Retail Employees Can Rebound from a Layoff

It’s been a tough start to 2023 for some major retailers.

As pandemic-driven consumer spending and aggressive hiring taper off in the midst of supply chain issues and inflation, companies like Amazon, Wayfair, and Bed, Bath & Beyond are laying off workers into the tens of thousands. This comes as other sectors such as technology also massively cut their workforces. For many, it’s an abrupt about-face from The Great Resignation of 2021 when companies across industries couldn’t fill roles fast enough or, in some cases, at all.

To help affected employees in retail, including loss prevention professionals, we talked to a few experts on how to cope with—and, eventually, build back from—a layoff.

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First, Take a Breath

While self-care can seem tricky when you’re no longer bringing in a stable income, there are a number of free or low-cost activities you can try, according to CPA and finance expert Christopher William.

“Activities that promote awareness, such as yoga and meditation, can help you manage stress and enhance your general well-being,” he said. “Numerous websites, applications, and Youtube videos provide guided meditation and yoga lessons for free or at a moderate fee.”

Consult your local community centers, non-profit organizations, and employee assistance programs to see whether they offer free or inexpensive counseling services, he added. Those who find bodywork relaxing can try local schools that offer low-cost massages by the students in training. Attempt free or inexpensive alternatives to typical self-care, such as taking a bubble bath, going for a walk in the park, reading a book, or listening to a new podcast. Stay in touch with friends, rest, and take care of your physical well-being to keep your mood hopeful.  

Don’t Undersell Your Skills

Those who work in retail have fantastic, highly sought-after skills they often overlook, said HR Consultant Barbie Winterbottom. She encourages loss prevention professionals impacted by a layoff to take an inventory of the work they did and then find the core behaviors it takes to fulfill that work.

“Retail workers consistently have to manage multiple tasks, de-escalate upset customers, and make decisions quickly, all while customers are often waiting right in front of them,” she said. “These skills are phenomenal and transferable to other industries, like customer service and hospitality.”

Loss prevention professionals have additional skills to add to their resume. These include extreme patience, laser-sharp focus, keen observation skills, the ability to think on their feet, and experience collaborating with law enforcement and security personnel.

Refine Your Resume

A misstep individuals across industries often make is not adequately translating their skills to their resumes. Given that the average employer spends just six to seven seconds scanning a resume, it’s critical to make yours stand out with the right wording. Some sample adjectives Winterbottom highlights include customer-facing, problem solver, and customer-obsessed.

“These are examples of highly desired skills in many fields outside of retail,” she said.

According to Robert Half Talent Solutions, additional skills worth calling out regardless of the industry include computer proficiency, leadership experience, communication skills, people skills, and collaboration. Indeed.com also has a list of nearly 200 words that can help you write a resume that gets attention.

Get on the Job Boards and Networking Sites

William recommends a number of retail-specific sites that could help laid-off workers land their next job:

  • RetailNext is a retail technology platform that gives retail sector professionals access to jobs, news, analytics, and trends.
  • Retail Industry Leaders Group (RILA) is a trade association for the retail sector that connects professionals through job listings and networking events.
  • National Retail Federation (NRF) is a trade group that represents retailers nationwide and provides job listings, networking opportunities, and educational resources for those working in the retail industry.

And then there are your run-of-the-mill job sites, such as Indeed and Glassdoor. It’s also worth trying Facebook groups specific to people looking for retail jobs, including loss prevention roles, William said.

Touch Up Your Tech Knowledge

E-commerce spending might be down, but online shopping isn’t going anywhere.

Consumers, especially younger ones, will increasingly expect seamless, convenient, and relevant in-store and online experiences. As such, retailers will continue investing in technology to improve interactions in both venues. Even frontline retail workers will find themselves needing to know how to navigate mobile shopping apps, self-service kiosks, and even augmented and virtual reality. According to research by Shopify and Forrester, 40 percent of retailers planned to invest in technology to enhance the customer’s in-store shopping experience in 2022.

For loss prevention professionals, staying up to date on the latest security systems and technology is critical in a job search. Look to read about some of these technologies online for free to get a sense of how different retailers are using them. This will give you at least a baseline knowledge of how different tools and systems work so you’re informed during a potential interview.

Look for the Green Shoots

It’s also not all doom and gloom for all retailers. Walmart, for example, is raising the minimum wage for store employees in an effort to snag retail talent. If you want to stay in the industry, look for retailers that are looking to grow. There are typically more open roles than people to fill them, and many are now work-from-home positions.

For loss prevention roles, demand is expected to rise. It’s estimated that 698,330 new loss prevention manager roles will be filled by 2029, an annual increase of 16.54 percent over the next few years.

“Seeking to find what opportunities may be available, and then how you can translate your experience to meet the needs of the open role, is critical to finding that next new role,” Winterbottom said.

Keep It Flexible

If you need money quickly while laid off, many viable options still exist in the gig and side-hustle economy.

“Choose a side hustle that lets you decide when, where, and how you want to work,” said Kira Caban, flexible work expert and head of communications for Instawork, an app enabling workers of all backgrounds and experience levels, particularly in retail, to earn money by completing shifts on their terms.

In addition to the usual ride-hailing and food delivery gigs like Uber and DoorDash, Caban said concert and sport venues are also great places to find flexible and exciting work, especially for loss prevention professionals who have security training. A fun perk is the opportunity to take in a show or sporting event while you earn money.

“Don’t limit yourself to extra work in the industry where you regularly work,” she added. “Try a new role, gain new skills, and you may find something you love.”


Lauren Fritsky

Lauren Fritsky is a seasoned journalist and content marketer whose work has appeared on CNN, AOL, USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Travel+Leisure, Entrepreneur, Adweek, and many other websites. She’s spent the last 11 years writing about IT, adtech, martech, retail, and e-commerce for global companies. Lauren earned a bachelor’s degree in English from La Salle University in Philadelphia. Contact her at Lauren.fritsky@gmail.com.

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