Careers advice

Key skills for warehouse job applications

Looking for a career where salaries are increasing?

Last updated: 22 November 2023

The average salary for warehouse and distribution jobs in Aotearoa New Zealand has increased 30% over the past five years, according to Trade Me Jobs’ data*. And with roles ranging from no-experience entry level positions through to experienced professionals, there’s a lot to like about working in this sector.

So, if you’re thinking about applying for warehouse jobs, now is a great time. But what skills do employers look for in this sector? Let’s take a look at the competencies you need to include on your CV and cover letter for warehouse jobs so you can impress and make it through to the interview stage.

Must-have skills when applying for warehouse jobs

1. Communication

You probably see communication listed at the top of most professional skills-related articles, but there’s a good reason for this. To be an effective employee in just about every setting you need to be good at communicating, and this is definitely true of warehouse jobs.

When working in a warehouse role, there’s no way you can expect to deliver projects, parcels and services on time without effective communication with colleagues, clients and external stakeholders like transport providers. This is true of both verbal and written communication skills, as the smallest miscommunication can result in the derailment of otherwise smooth operations.

2. Equipment operation

Specialised pieces of machinery are a feature in warehouses, and they typically require specifically trained personnel to operate them. This includes everything from automated equipment like packing machines to heavy equipment such as stackers and forklift trucks. Some of the training to operate this equipment can be gained on the job, while other machines require designated training programmes to be operated safely.

The good news is that often, when you gain these additional qualifications, you’ll be offered more career opportunities, and it’ll also put you in a good position to negotiate a pay rise.

The abiliy to work under pressure is crucial for warehouse employees.

3. Ability to work under pressure

Warehouses are vital links in the chain for many businesses, and often have an outsized impact on the way that customers and clients experience their interaction with the organisation as a whole.

Think about how many times you see complaints (or maybe have complained yourself) about the slow delivery of a product or service – it can really hurt the business’s reputation. So, if you’re working in a warehouse job, you’ll need to be able to work quickly, but also carefully, to ensure that orders are met on time and everything flows as smoothly as possible.

4. Computer and tech skills

This one is particularly important if you’re keen to climb the career ladder and make it into leadership roles.

Depending on the size, complexity and modernity of the warehouse you work in, the tech you might need to deal with could range from very simple (think Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets) to more specialist inventory management tech such as radio frequency identification (RFID). As with much of the more traditional equipment used in warehouse jobs, you can often learn how to use this tech on the job, and you’ll typically find greater career opportunities opening up to you as you adopt these skills.

Tech is continuing to revolutionise warehousing operations.

5. Decision-making skills

Even with the best teams, systems and equipment can go wrong. As such, you need to be able to think on your feet and make informed decisions to solve problems and produce results.

Similarly, you’ll need to be able to prioritise when you’re confronted with multiple tasks pulling you in different directions. For example, if a shipment needs checking before heading out of the warehouse, you might need to briefly drop whatever you’re doing to ensure that everything is in order and all the paperwork is complete.

6. Physical stamina

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be marathon fit in order to work a warehouse job in New Zealand. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that these roles often do require you to be on your feet, and sometimes carrying heavy loads, for extended periods of time.

7. A desire to learn

As we’ve mentioned, there are plenty of entry level warehouse jobs, some of which require absolutely no prior industry experience. However, if you want to build a career in this sector, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate a desire to learn new skills, hold onto this knowledge and grow as a professional.

This learning aptitude extends to everything from understanding the unique processes of the specific warehouse you work in, to training to use the vital equipment and technology that make these operations tick.

*Data as of June 30, 2023.

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Al Hall
Al Hall

Al Hall is a regular contributor at Trade Me Jobs and Trade Me Property. He’s dedicated to helping people succeed in their aspirations to find their dream job and place to live.