More Than Just Bagging Groceries: Supermarket Job Skills

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Career Advice

Yes, I worked in a supermarket. I worked as a cashier, a self-checkout assistant and as a service desk clerk. Now, what does this mean? I dealt with complaints, messes, price inaccuracies and long lines in every capacity I fulfilled. But, I also learned a lot, and if you have ever worked in a supermarket, I can guarantee that you learned some of these things as well.

You learn how to work with the public 
A supermarket environment is a great place to enhance your ability to work with the public. It can be trying on most days, but there are rewards, too. You learn the importance of greeting people with a smile, even when you may not be in the mood to “people.” You learn how to deal with difficult customers. And you learn how to get through even the most trying days.

You learn time management
Whether it’s learning how to juggle this job with school, a family, or another job, or just dealing with the busy times and the low times, your supermarket job will teach you how to budget time. At the supermarket, when there are few customers in the store, cashiers and supervisors alike tend to spend time cleaning scanners, putting away unwanted merchandise and organizing displays. There will be times that there seems to be a lull in the action, but you will learn that this isn’t the time to sit down and scroll through Instagram. Take advantage of a little down time and go through work emails, clean up your work space, print up templates and all the other things you are usually forced to rush through or put on the back burner.

You learn to be proud when visits from “higher ups” happen
How can a visit from a higher up be a good thing? But it is. Few things put fear into the heart of a store manager, but a “visit from corporate” is certainly one of them. It can be stressful knowing your appearance, the efficiency and quality of your work and work ethic is being scrutinized by these much-dreaded figures. These are the people who not only have the power to terminate your employment but who are sometimes not as involved in day-to-day doings of where you work as other supervisors. Try to remember that for the most part it is to ensure that laws are being obeyed and that there are no financial crises that have to be dealt with.

You learn how to work with a team 
You learn to be courteous to those you work with, because you want others to be courteous to you. Think about it: would you want to sit and wait for your replacement to come so you can go home? No. You’d be unhappy — so don’t do this to your co-workers. Do not be frequently tardy, and be sure to have your part of any task finished on time.

You learn how to spearhead your job growth
Although memorizing random codes to ring up fruits and vegetables, being yelled at by irate customers, and having to deal with money was overwhelming at first, it can in time become enjoyable. Successfully working in the fast-paced express lanes and fixing problems with self-scanning devices are things you will eventually become proud of. To make yourself more marketable and appealing (should you ever pursue a different career) and to keep yourself from getting restless and bored, spend your time learning as much as you can. Keep growing, and show interest in the work you are in.

YOu learn when it’s time to move on
All things must come to an end, right? As stressful as the work may have been, and as frustrated and burnt-out as you may have felt, you may miss working at the supermarket in the end. 

While you are leaving one opportunity behind, do no forget the things you have discovered along the way — the mistakes you have made and the successes you have celebrated. They are now part of the employee you are. They are what make you an important part of any team.

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