My work is a mystery...
June 23, 2015 7:21 PM   Subscribe

...should I keep it that way? Primarily wondering if / how to add my experiences to my resume and LinkedIn account. Details enshrouded within.

Over the last couple of years I've really gotten into mystery shopping. It wasn't meant to be a career, just a way to get some cash during these lean times, although I have enjoyed the flexibility of time it has given me and in some occasions it's paid rather well for the time and effort involved. All of the work I've done is as an independent contractor for the various companies I've signed up with.

I've accepted and performed quite a lot of different assignments as I found it to be a great way of learning about different industries without having to immerse myself in one. So, I'm looking to add these assignments and experiences to my LinkedIn and my resume. Naturally I can't list them explicitly without blowing my cover, and besides I'm not and am not recognized as an employee of the companies I conduct these shops for.

Even though it's not the only thing I do, nor is it the most "professional" thing I do, I'd like to mention all this work experience on LinkedIn / my resume as it suggests I have a far wider skillset than my LinkedIn / resume shows.

Is there a way I can list this stuff on my LinkedIn / resume? On LinkedIn, how would I list my experience -- what would I add as my "company name" and "title"? How should I list and word all this on my resume?

Here's an idea of the assignments I've done -- all of them essentially are about evaluating the service and cleanliness / organization of the establishment:

*smartphone stores - prying associates for information about phones and their qualities
*restaurants - noting names and descriptions of employees, evaluating service and food
*auto dealerships - interacting with sales associates, making note of what they say and offer price-wise
*child care - pretending I have a child and looking to enroll, determining level of enthusiasm of employees and knowledge of the school / day care center
*banks - opening accounts, seeing if employees follow government regulations and bank policies
*retail stores - determining quality of service offered, cleanliness / orderliness of store and product / service knowledge of staff
*fast food - timing for speediness of service, determining cleanliness of store and appearance and hospitality of staff
*grocery stores - evaluating cleanliness, helpfulness and friendliness of staff, timing wait times and speed of service
*home improvement stores - interacting with their associates to determine helpfulness / value with certain projects

The most important thing I'd like to add to my LinkedIn page and resume are the skills I've developed doing this work, but I can't see how I can do that without mentioning that I am a mystery shopper.
posted by ditto75 to Work & Money (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I mystery shop as well. I've never been told I can't tell others that I do this kind of work...I'm just not supposed to tell the target store why I'm there at the time I'm shopping them.

Why not list yourself as a "contractor" to XYZ Marketing Group? Write up some flowery prose describing your work as "market research involving on-site evaluation of store performance" or something like that.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:48 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think the risk of outing yourself as a mystery shopper is pretty small, isn't it? It's not something you keep secret normally, I would imagine, and the possibility that a grocery store cashier might realize they're being "shopped" because of your LinkedIn account seems pretty remote to me.

What's the point of listing these things, though? These aren't really skills that have a ton of value, hence why mystery shopping doesn't pay all that much and is a field that's pretty darn easy to break into. Listing this either as "Mystery Shopping" per se or less directly by saying how good you are at telling if the bathrooms are clean just strikes me as absolutely counterproductive. It's just going to dilute your more lucrative skills, and if someone's scanning through LinkedIn profiles to find candidates as recruiters sometimes do, you're just raising the chances their eyes will glance past the moneymaker skills.

I can't imagine you'll ever get picked or rejected as a mystery shopper based on a LinkedIn profile, but if I were looking to hire someone in my unrelated field, it definitely wouldn't make a candidate more attractive. I'd try to ignore it but if anything it seems like a mild faux pas along the lines of coming to an interview with spinach in your teeth. I try to ignore issues of self-presentation in interviews, but that doesn't mean candidates shouldn't present themselves well. Talking up skills that are pretty easy and don't apply to most jobs just doesn't seem worth it. (Though I imagine it might be a good talking point if you're looking for management jobs in retail or hospitality.)
posted by mister pointy at 7:53 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Service Consultant, perhaps?
posted by bluedaisy at 8:20 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Assume for a moment it's a genuinely small enough market that you could limit your own marketability as a mystery shopper, then I would list something like "Service Analyst" (I wouldn't say consultant unless you actually give advice about how to fix the issues) and then explain during potential interviews. Under description you can say "review and analyze aspects of the customer experience within the retail sector".

But, honestly, I would just say "mystery shopper" unless you live in a the aforementioned small market.
posted by frumiousb at 9:21 PM on June 23, 2015

I'd call it "independent quality and performance assessor" with frumiousb's amplifying description, and some stats about how many different businesses, how many visits, if you have received any positive feedback about changes made in response to your reports, awards, etc.
posted by ctmf at 9:32 PM on June 23, 2015

Oh, and being a good inspector with an eye for details is absolutely a skill that sounds like anyone would be good at but... not so much. I would be positively influenced to hire, based on that, in my job. (If you were good at it, not just "had experience in" it.)
posted by ctmf at 9:37 PM on June 23, 2015

You are essentially self employed as a retail consultant - and that is how I'd spin it on LinkedIn. You are founder of Ditto75 Retail Services (or whatever) and you have consulted with (insert industries here) as a retail service assessor to hep them maintain high quality service, sales, etc.
posted by COD at 5:18 AM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I would list yourself as "Service Evaluation Consultant" with no company or "self."
And then I would say
- Conduct independent quality and performance assessments for companies to evaluate their customer service
- Clients have included wireless providers, car dealerships, restaurants, child care, banks, retail, and grocery stores.
(Include "major regional/local/national chain" as appropriate)
- Evaluations assess customer service delivery and product knowledge, product and service quality, price accuracy, adherence to policies and regulations, cleanliness, wait times, and all other aspects of customer experience.

I am available for consulting work -- Please contact me if interested.

If you're not looking for more of this work, but instead want to emphasize the skills you use in it, I would call those out:
I bring an eye for detail and exacting quality standards to thoroughly evaluate retail customer experiences.
posted by amaire at 2:04 PM on June 24, 2015

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