Rajalakshmi (26) checked her make-up over her palm-sized mirror for one last time during her 15-minute lunch break. Seeing a customer walking in, she hurried towards her with a smile and assisted her in choosing the right kind of face-wash.

The job as shopping assistant has been exciting for Rajalakshmi, who has been hopping many jobs after flunking in her SSLC examination. But now, the chain of beauty store where she works has trained her in basic English, provided her uniform and even a make-up kit to groom herself.

With the emergence of shopping malls and chain of stores, customer service has become the by-word. Well-groomed shop assistants with everlasting smile and good marketing skills are fitting into the jobs without much difficulty. Interpersonal and communication skills are in demand like never before.

Big Bazaar of Future Group recruits over 1,000 youths every month for front-end jobs across the country.

Their induction programme ‘Prarambh’ will have a 13-day residential programme. “We also conduct self-development training called ‘Gurukul’ where we seek to build the self-esteem of the employee, which helps them when interacting with customers,” says Kripesh Hariharan, vice-president (business), Future Learning and Development Limited.

Hard selling is the career mantra for many of the young shop assistants. Ramachandran, a helper in a fruit shop, initially found the constant monitoring of the store manager annoying. “But now I know why they do it. They want to make sure we are nice to the customers. For them, every customer is important.”

Shop helpers apart, the emergence of shopping malls has opened a whole new range of job options for many including security service personnel, cleaners and delivery boys.

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