Posted August 13, 2021

What to Know About Working in a Warehouse

What to Know About Working in a Warehouse
By Sarah Mehlert

Warehouse roles can offer a great entry level career with tons of room for growth. But what exactly do these roles entail? If you are considering applying for a warehouse associate role or another similar position in a distribution center, there are likely a lot of things you may not yet know about the field. With so many moving parts and companies operating their supply chains differently, there is a lot more to these positions than meets the eye. Warehouse positions can be extremely rewarding and challenging, and can provide the opportunity to learn about several different aspects of supply chains and warehouse operations. As you begin your journey down this career path, there are some key things to know about working in a warehouse that will help you along your way.

Although warehouse roles are typically entry level, that doesn’t mean they are unimportant. Every company relies on their supply chain in order for their operations to run smoothly, and warehouse associates are no exception. These roles are vital to the overall success of an organization, as warehouse associates are responsible for packing, sorting, receiving, and shipping millions of different goods every year. Without them, supply chains would fall apart! Because of this, even the most entry level warehouse positions typically offer high pay and comprehensive benefits for full time and part time employees. Not only that, but these positions also offer high job security. Warehouse associates and other roles under the warehouse operations umbrella continue to be in high demand, with a huge increase in e-commerce over the past couple of years, and holiday seasons coming up soon as well.

Not all warehouse positions involve the same tasks. Even among the same title, such as warehouse associate, job responsibilities can vary greatly between different companies. When you are applying for positions, make sure you take a good look at what the specific responsibilities are. At one company, you could be receiving returns and packing orders to ship and at another, their warehouse associates could be responsible for operating a forklift. As vast as the number of goods and services that different companies offer are, warehouse employees’ duties are just as varied. It’s important to also consider the company that you are applying with, and what their products are, as this will affect the conditions of the warehouse you will be working in. A produce company’s warehouse will be very different from that of a clothing retailer. If you can, ask for a warehouse tour during your interview if it isn’t already offered, so that you can get a feel for the conditions you will be working in and determine if it is a good fit.

As you begin your warehousing career, you may notice that you are kind of a “jack of all trades.” You may be doing completely different tasks every day and getting to learn a lot about all the moving parts of a warehouse and the company’s supply chain. Because of this, warehousing jobs can be a great steppingstone to other careers in the field. In a short amount of time, you can learn about the company, their products, and their way of operating, which can be a huge asset to have for other roles at the company, such as an inventory manager, a quality assurance position, or a supervisor. Since companies tend to prefer to promote from within for their warehouse roles, you can be on your way in no time to a higher-up position. Companies are looking for employees who want to stick around and are interested in advancement opportunities. If you are able to take ownership of your role and show dedication and a willingness to learn, there are endless opportunities for you in the warehouse setting to find out what you are passionate about and work your way there fairly quickly.

While warehouse roles are typically very physically demanding and require a lot of hands-on labor, there are also many soft skills that employers look for in candidates, and a lot of soft skills you may pick up as you work in the field. Since warehouse associates are considered entry level, most employers won’t be expecting you to have a ton of prior experience, as they can train the right person to do whatever it is that the job entails. They are however looking for candidates that possess certain soft skills and traits, such as being hard working, reliable, independent, and adaptable. These soft skills are harder to teach somebody than say, teaching them how to pack and ship orders, so if you already have some of them, it is a great way to stand out in your application and interview. Working in a warehouse can be very dynamic, with new challenges being presented all the time. Not only will having these skills strengthen your chances of getting hired, but you will also be able to continue to hone them throughout your career.

If you think a warehouse role could be right for you, there is no better time than now to get in the field. Entry level positions in the warehouse setting should not be overlooked, as they can offer high pay, full benefits and unlimited room for growth. Choosing what type of warehouse and what position is right for you is an important first step, as conditions and responsibilities can vary greatly. Going into your interview prepared with the right questions about the company and the specific responsibilities of the position is crucial, as well as being able to articulate your soft skills that would make you a good fit. If you are responsible, independent, and punctual, you can go a long way in the field, and build transferable skills that will carry you to the next step in your career. The past couple of years have shown us all just how integral these positions are, and the future of the industry has unlimited potential for growth and will likely continue to evolve. It’s an exciting time to enter the field!