Moving from retail management to corporate officer is doable with a deliberate strategy and company advancement-centered focus.

From Retail Management to Corporate Success in 5 Steps

Leadership Professional Growth

Advancement takes precision and focus, and these five steps can help you go from retail management into your corporate dream job.

Working in retail management can be a perfect springboard to a higher-level position, even in the corporate ranks. In fact, more than 71 percent of hiring managers across industries say that retail jobs provide the foundational skills and experiences that are valuable in other careers, according to a survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation. If you want to move beyond retail management into the corporate office, you may have just the background your potential future bosses are seeking.

Moving up into the corporate ranks takes some preparation and focus. Follow these five steps to shift from retail management into your corporate dream job.

1. Make Yourself Stand Out

If you’ve advanced into management, you’ve obviously already made a positive impression on your higher-ups. But if you want to move further up the ladder, you must continue to shine. Get noticed by working harder than others in your store, always being punctual and being willing to take on extra duties as necessary. Working hard will earn you respect from your employees and your supervisors, but it’s not the only way to get noticed. Take an interest in other people, be friendly to both co-workers and provide exceptional customer service. You’ll create a positive reputation for yourself and become the kind of person supervisors naturally think about for interesting new projects or promotions.

2. Think Like a Leader

Corporations want leaders who aren’t just focused on putting in their hours and collecting their paychecks. Instead, they want leaders who bring value to the company by looking for ways to increase sales, cut costs and develop more efficient operations. Start thinking beyond your own retail management position and begin considering what’s best for the company as a whole. When you have a good idea, don’t be afraid to share it at the appropriate time and with the appropriate person. When you’re recognized as a person who brings fresh ideas and increased value to the company, you’ll be in a better position to move into corporate ranks. Part of thinking like a leader involves being able to understand and communicate well with each member of your team, according to research published in the Harvard Business Review. So you might start by building stronger relationships with others who work with you, so you can lead them to greater collaboration for the good of the company.

3. Find a Mentor

Every successful professional relies on other experienced professionals to provide advice, feedback and support. Seek out a supervisor, executive or other leader at your company or another similar company who is willing to invest some time with you and offer their input. If you don’t have close relationships with potential mentors, start attending company events or serving on voluntary committees and take time to get to know more people. Building new relationships is valuable for moving up in your career anyway, and you’ll likely become acquainted with someone who could make a strong mentor. If you can’t think of anyone in your personal network who would make a good mentor for you, consider an online mentoring relationship through a service like Find a Mentor or Mentor On.

4. Develop a Strategy

Having a vague goal to work in the corporate office isn’t enough to get you there. Write down your specific goals, and then — maybe with your mentor’s help — write out a strategy for reaching them. Your strategy may include obtaining additional education or training, serving on specific committees or projects or meeting specific sales goals in your current management position. Your strategy may include several steps to get to your ultimate career goal. For ideas, take a look at this sample retail career plan from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Career One Stop.

5. Don’t Give Up

When new positions at higher levels within the company become open, start applying for them. Take the initiative to talk with people you know who may have inside information about the potential jobs or may have influence over the hiring decision. For instance, if you served on an event planning committee last year with someone from corporate marketing, don’t hesitate to send them an email about the open position in their department and ask for advice about pursuing it. People love to help people they know and respect. And remember it can take time to reach your goals; be willing to keep trying and maintain optimism.

Nancy Mann Jackson
Nancy Mann Jackson

Nancy Mann Jackson writes regularly about finance, the workplace and career issues. Her work has appeared on,, Entrepreneur,, and Fortune.