Ask Aerotek: How to Build a Career Starting in the Warehouse

“Entry-level position. Experience required.”

These words are a frustrating catch-22 if you’re trying to start a career or supplement your income with extra work. How do you get experience if you can’t qualify for an entry-level position?

Aerotek hiring experts answer these questions all the time. Camille Pickthorn, an account recruiting manager with extensive experience placing warehouse employees, believes seasonal warehouse positions offer the answer to that seemingly impossible question.

Here’s what she had to say in our latest edition of “Ask Aerotek.”

What kinds of employment backgrounds do people tend to have when they get involved in warehousing?

“The really cool thing about many seasonal warehousing opportunities, employers like to give everyone an opportunity to work for them. The sector doesn't necessarily have a deciding factor in terms of requirements for a background or previous experience.”

“So, you could be a stay-at-home parent who wants some extra income for the holidays. Or a seasoned welder who just wants to pick up some additional hours and gain a skillset that you don't currently have. It varies a lot.”

Do people from these backgrounds have a common set of career goals?

“Usually the candidates I speak with are looking to gain additional experience or an additional skillset they don't currently have. Since many warehouse employers don’t require previous experience for seasonal roles, job hunters can start in these positions straight out of high school or after being unemployed for many years. As a result, you get the names of well-known companies on your resume. Warehousing positions are great for gaining initial experience, for getting a foot in the door with a company — and can help you enhance your resume for future jobs.”

“Kind of that middle ground of a goal many warehouse contractors have is to be hired on permanently. During a seasonal warehouse job, if you go above and beyond — if you’re at work every single day doing a great job — there can be opportunities either for the next seasonal ramp or staying on permanently.”

“But the most common immediate goal warehouse employees tend to have is needing and wanting additional pay for the holidays. Warehouse positions offer a great opportunity to supplement your income.”

So after an initial warehousing position, where are the opportunities for growth in a career?

“I've seen quite a few different roles emerge. Material handlers are a great next step. Shipping and receiving departments, logistics coordinators, all those positions align really well with warehousing, and we are easily able to place candidates in those future positions.”

“A lot of employers in warehousing are looking for employees at that mid-level position, but they won't necessarily look at candidates without experience, so a seasonal warehouse job can be a good stepping stone in that sense.”

“When you prove yourself, show you're a hard worker, work well with the team and maintain a positive attitude, employers tend to promote you very quickly within the logistics team.”

What are some common requirements and basic skills people should be aware of when applying to warehouse positions?

“Just about every warehouse employer needs people who have the ability to lift 50 pounds consistently, who can submit a standard seven-year background check and a drug screening, and who can provide high school education verification at the time of hiring. Some employers don't necessarily require a drug screening or a seven-year standard background check, but most do.”

“In terms of skills, the biggest is the ability to show up for every shift on time. They also want someone who is a team player with a positive attitude, where if a situation arises and someone needs to stay late, you raise your hand and say, ‘Yes, I'll take one for the team and stay 10 minutes past my shift just to get this done.’ Employees who show that commitment are more likely to be considered for permanent placements and promotions rather than the ending of a seasonal contract.”

Learn more

Want to know more about warehouse positions before making the leap? Check out “Warehouse Professionals – Skills for Success and How to Get Ahead.”

Get help

If you’re looking to get your foot in the door and build experience that can help you build a career, a warehouse position might be right for you. Aerotek experts like Camille Pickthorn can work with you to prepare a job search strategy based on your specific job history. Just reach out.

Talk with an Aerotek recruiter. And if you’re looking for a job, visit our job board to find your next great opportunity. Create a free career account today to customize your search.