Tips on How to Land a Job in Logistics
Even though the logistics industry is growing, finding a job in this field takes a bit of preparation on your part. Let us help you get a foot in the door and navigate the process from start to finish by following our tips, tricks, and how-to’s.
Tip #1: Determine your career goals.
To reach your career goals in logistics, you must define your ambitions. Do you want to run the company, or do you want to specialize in a particular field? What are your short-term and long-term goals? Sit down and write out a career plan detailing what you want to achieve, then brainstorm ideas for how you’ll get there.
Tip #2: Network, get feedback, and find a mentor.
The cliché is true: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know (though knowing stuff definitely helps). Discuss your career aspirations with someone who currently works in the job you’d like to have, such as a coworker, a family friend, or a connection made through networking. If you currently work at a logistics company, have a discussion with your boss or a human resource staffer about what you need to do to earn a promotion and set yourself on the right career track. Ask your mentor or coworkers to introduce you to others in the field or at specific companies you’d like to work for. If you attended a school with a career office, contact them to ask for advice and connections to alumni.
Tip #3: Determine what you’re qualified for now.
Entry-level job titles in logistics include van driver, dispatcher, scheduler, expeditor, merchandise buyer assistant, and clerk for distribution, operations, traffic, or import/export. Some entry-level jobs, such as operations research analyst or process associate, may require a Bachelor’s degree or other certifications, so determine your skill sets and educational needs before you begin applying for jobs. You’ll save yourself time and rejection-related heartache if you limit the scope of your search to what you can realistically accomplish at this point in your career. If you’ve been working in the logistics field for a year or more, assess your experience based on your inside knowledge of the industry. Salary.com is an excellent resource for researching job descriptions, requirements, and expected salaries.
Tip #4: Seek out general knowledge and formal education.
Read newsletters and trade publications of associations like the American Society of Transportation and Logistics, and the Warehousing Education and Research Council. After you’ve whetted your appetite and gained a working knowledge of the current prevailing logistics ideas and technologies, take it a step further: Research educational programs in your area or online that offer logistics or logistics management programs. Keep your career plan from step #1 (with feedback from step #2) handy in order to structure your search based on your current skills and long-term goals.
Having a relevant education is critical for anyone interested in a logistics career. Logistics degree programs cover subjects such as management, managerial decision-making, distribution and logistics and supply chain management. Given the broad scope of the field, some programs are referred to as an operations management degree or logistics and supply chain management degree. Some schools offer a degree in transportation and logistics.
It’s important to find the right program for your career goals. Below you’ll find a list of accredited schools that offer a number of quality degree options.
Colorado Technical University
Southern New Hampshire University
Tip #5: Develop your computer skills.
These days, logistics professionals depend on computer system skills to get their jobs done. Learn to work with Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Many companies also use computer management systems to keep track of inventory and transportation, so seek out opportunities to work with those systems as soon as possible.
Tip #6: Request more responsibility and team projects.
In your current job, get involved in project-based work and be an active, helpful team member. Take on more responsibility whenever possible, whether that means scheduling, operational management, warehouse inventory, or even innovating new ideas to help make operations more efficient. Successful careers in logistics require a wide range of skills, so be enthusiastic about taking on any new responsibility.
Tip #7: Research companies before applying.
Spend time researching companies you’re interested in through their websites. Twenty minutes on a search engine can bring up all sorts of information, including company growth and performance history. Avoid applying to companies that have been cutting jobs or posting declining profits. If the company looks good, check whether they post employment opportunities on their website. Major companies like Wal-Mart have entire pages dedicated to logistics and supply chain employment opportunities.
Tip #8: Use industry-specific as well as general job search websites.
Another great way to find logistics job postings is through career-specific websites like Fleethelper.com or JobsinLogistics.com. Other online career sites like Monster.com can also provide leads to jobs at every level of logistics.
Tip #9: Prepare your resume.
A clean, professional resume is crucial to landing a job in the logistics industry. Career services offices and resume help websites can lend plenty of advice, but the basics are simple:
- Keep your resume to two pages or less, and only one page if you’re applying for an entry-level position.
- Include all your contact information, such as a professional email address (get rid of [email protected] and opt for your name instead) and a phone number.
- List specific achievements as well as industry experience. Key accomplishments should be highlighted at the top of each position listed.
- Include logistics industry keywords.
- Include your technology and computer skills.
- Always give your resume to someone else to review – preferably someone who works in human resources or a similar role where they see many resumes and can offer sage advice.
- Triple-check your resume for grammar and typos. Then check it again.
Tip #10: Be prepared for the interview.
Once you land an interview for a job in logistics, take time to prepare. Review common interview questions and practice your answers, including ways to highlight your achievements and downplay any gaps in experience. Research the company so you can ask questions that indicate you’ve taken a real interest in this particular company and this particular job. Dress appropriately and display confidence in yourself and your skill set. Remember: You need to be the right fit for the company, but the company needs to be a fit for you too.
Tip #11: Work hard, play nice with others, and set your sights high.
Upper-level logistics managers and planners, who can exercise more latitude and creativity in their daily tasks, can earn six-figure salaries with just five to 10 years of experience (usually with a Bachelor’s degree in an area of specialty). As soon as you land your entry-level job, be the model employee: Show up on time, dress and behave appropriately, and demonstrate an insatiable desire to learn and mature. Your growing knowledge of logistics concepts, practices, and procedures and your increasing experience in the field will help you excel, especially if you are a team player and display the attitude of a generally likeable person.