Many years ago, in a large window coverings company, now sadly departed to the shelter of a larger conglomerate, I wrote job descriptions. My writing consisted of listing and noting, in some detail, the duties, responsibilities and salary for each of some 300 and more office/management jobs. I was an English major newly out of college, so my boss assumed the task would be natural and easy for a writer like me. It was not easy at all!
Some jobs, especially routine office and management positions, were not too difficult
to describe. No major problems. But, try to interview an employee who really
wasn’t sure about what the duties and responsibilities of the job involved
and who had only a vague idea of where the job fit in the overall management
and office organization tables.
Furthermore, he or she could be very reluctant to discuss or answer questions
about the job. Many resented having a “college punk” (just one of
the various references to me) asking them about their livelihoods. They assumed
my descriptions might affect their pay in some way. They were partially correct.
SOME JOBS QUESTIONABLE
All large firms, private industry and government, have various nebulous jobs
that just seem to grow and evolve until they become permanent. Part-time temps
become full-time for varied reasons. So-called special no-skills jobs are created
to reward a good friend or relative. A useless on-the-shelf job might be created
to help out a good old boy nearing retirement age and unable to keep up with
the requirements of a former job. I ran across other odd reasons for job creation.
I learned much about such do-little jobs as I struggled along with my writing
assignment. I also found out the hard way that I must be able to “sell” my
objectives—and myself—to very suspicious and difficult people. I
supplemented my on-the-job education with intensive study of self-help books
discussing ways to work and get along with people. The on-the-job experience
and self-study probably helped me more than most of the general theory courses
I had in school.
RETAILER JOB ALMOST DEFIES DESCRIPTION
This recap helps me get into my subject for this issue. It’s a departure
from my usual discourse about advertising and publicity.
First, based on that early experience, I have prepared a suggested job description
for the duties of an average retailer professional in window coverings. It is
probably impossible to cover all the detailed parts of that impressive title,
since it varies greatly by category, volume, type of outlet, market and other
I simply list the desirable and ideal job components as I’ve seen and studied
them over the years. There are too many changing duties, responsibilities and
desirable personal characteristics to do otherwise.
Anyway, it was fun to try. I present my suggested job description here in the
chart. You might get a chuckle out of it here and there (the translations may
help). Perhaps the description might spark some serious debate and thought. It
could help you to better evaluate the content of your work and its importance
in our industry and economy.
This job description may only scratch the surface for this mad, mad world of
window coverings retailing. I could have gone on and on. I probably missed many
duties and requirements anyway.
But, consider job descriptions as a guideline to help you realize that retailing
management is an involved and difficult assignment, especially in our special,
customized home decorating business.
Final suggestion: Do your own job descriptions for other jobs in your business.
They could be very helpful in interviewing applicants, figuring pay levels, planning
work assignments and so on.
Independent Window Coverings
This job calls for a mix and mastery of
talent, skills, training and on-the-job experience in merchandising
window coverings to a wide diversity of residential, office
and institutional prospects desiring beautiful and/or functional
coverings at their windows and other interior settings. No
restrictions for gender, race, age or special physical requirements
apply. College degree preferred but not required. Advanced
study or on-the-job training in interior design, decoration
and color coordination highly recommended.
• Specific duties:
1. Knowledge of basic management and office procedures including
details of business financing, employee training, product pricing,
in-store display and signage, interior store layout, customer
traffic control and regular day-to-day operations. (Translation:
Know everything about operating a retail store, studio or workroom
specializing in the window coverings business.)
2. Understand the basic principles of design, fashions and
color coordination plus product applications for scores of
plain and decorative stylings for all kinds and sizes of windows,
doors and other interior openings. (Translation: Know everything
about window coverings and decorating.)
3. Be familiar with the various techniques and technology
involved in today’s computerized marketing processes,
including purchasing, traffic control, shipping and delivery
follow-up procedures and inventory control. (Translation:
Know how to get the right stuff at the right time when
your store before customers get wrong ideas about your
service and abilities.)
4. Be able to plan and use modern communication methods,
on your own or with outside agents, to create newspaper,
television, direct mail, print and computer network advertising
and telemarketing plus continuing publicity programs of
all kinds designed to attract customers and prospects to
place of business. (Translation: Be able to spread the “bull” so
that people know you and your store exists, and that you
want their business when they decide to do their windows.)
5. Must know how to use the principles and techniques of personal
selling, either one-on-one or in a group in order to complete
the sale of products, designs, ideas and installations.
• Suggested Personal Characteristics:
In addition to the specific
job duties listed above, it would be advisable for job
occupants (or future applicants) to posses a substantial measure of
the following characteristics in his or her personal nature:
1. An understanding of how to use tact and patience, combined
with a sense of humor and optimism to help understand and
improvise solutions to difficult personal and business
Learn to get along with people, keep cool in tough sales
situations, don’t sweat all the little details and
2. An awareness of, or some training in, the various steps
involved in handling or supervising the odd types of carpentry,
maintenance and assembly jobs that pop up at various times.
(Translation: Learn how to use a hammer, screwdriver, pliers
and a saw with other hand tools with nails and screws to save
bucks in order to keep stuff around the shop in working order
without big skilled trade investments. Helping with some of
the many and constant cleaning, dusting and putting-back jobs
would be advisable.)
John L. Lichty is a consultant and senior editor for Draperies & Window
Coverings magazine. He has more than 30 years experience in the planning and
of various consumer, trade and retail advertising programs.