What exactly do warehouse workers do?
You need a job and keep seeing job postings for warehouse associates. You're wondering if this may be a good employment option for you.
First, you need to know what a warehouse worker does. Depending on the company and position the exact responsibilities vary, but if you get hired, you will most likely find yourself assisting with one or more of the following assignments within the warehouse: shipping, receiving, or inventory management. This type job is typically physical, requiring you to: unload and load products from trucks; pick products off shelves by hand or forklift, to be packaged and shipped; package items; and prepare them for shipment.
Does this sound like something you'd be interested in? Then let's explore the skills and experience employers are looking for in strong candidates, as well as why these skills matter.
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Why is it important for businesses to have the best warehouse employees possible?
Have you ever ordered an item online, needed it for a specific date - maybe a shirt for an event you're attending or a specific backpack for a hike you're going on? The item arrives, only to be the wrong one. Perhaps it's the wrong size, color, or completely wrong item altogether. Your event is the next day and you don't have time to reorder.
Now, think of your online go-to company. They're the ones you love and usually do business with. Every time you've purchased from them they have met your expectations. The product is always correct and arrives on time. You know you can depend on them.
Have you ever considered who's behind getting you the right product at the right time? It most likely starts with customer service and sales, with the final touch point being the distribution center. This is where your product is picked, packed, and shipped. When a company has the right employees, things run smoothly. This is the same whether it's a company who ships small orders directly to the consumer or large orders to businesses. Warehouse workers positively (or negatively) impact the overall success and reputation of a business. This is why hiring the right warehouse employee is imperative for a business' success.
What skills does a warehouse worker need?
For the responsibilities described earlier, it's easy to think of the hard skills you'll need to succeed. These include experience with stocking, using a forklift or pallet jack, packing, loading, shipping and receiving products, scheduling, physical mobility, and general warehouse labor - as illustrated in the infographic above.
But, have you considered the soft skills required for success? These include accuracy in reading the order, picking the product, and shipping it correctly. Things can move quickly at a warehouse, which requires employees to be flexible, think quickly on their feet, problem-solve, and communicate with coworkers and managers as a team player. In addition there is a need for organization, focus, and attention to detail ensuring the jobs get done accurately and in a timely manner.
How can I improve my warehouse skills?
As you're reading the list of skills, you may be thinking, "That is a lot of things to focus on! How am I supposed to gain experience or improve my skills to make myself marketable?" Indeed.com provides a few suggestions, including gaining practical experience, learning from others, taking on additional responsibilities, participating in training, and putting your skills to work whenever possible.
If you are looking to begin a warehouse career, an entry-level position may be your starting point. If you have some experience and are looking to advance in your career, speak with your employer to see what you need to do or work with a staffing agency who specializes in placing candidates in warehouse or other light industrial positions.