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Skills you'll need to advance as a material moving worker

When applying for any new job, it's important to think about your potential career trajectory at that company or in that industry. For those currently working as material movers — or anyone considering applying to jobs in that field — there are skills you can master and put on your resume to help you secure future promotions.

Skills You'll Need to Advance as a Material Moving Worker

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that material moving worker jobs are projected to grow by about 3 percent between the years 2019 and 2029. However, the BLS also notes that jobs requiring hand packing will decline as more and more warehouses move to automation. On the other hand, this rise in automated moving means that there will a greater need for workers who are knowledgeable about those technologies.

Entry-level skills

Basic skills for material moving workers with no prior experience are palletizing and unloading. Palletizing involves monitoring automated machinery and making sure that materials are loaded properly into those machines. Workers need to be alert and communicative, especially if there are problems that need immediate attention. On the other hand, unloading requires organization, efficiency, and the ability to prioritize tasks — not to mention a certain level of physical strength and stamina, since you could be carrying heavy loads throughout the course of a workday.

If you're applying to material moving positions, unloading and palletizing are two skills you'll absolutely need, but they're also important to keep in mind if you're already employed. The organizational and communication skills will also be helpful to include on your resume as you look toward potential promotions at work.

Want a promotion? Drive a forklift

If you've been a material moving worker for a while and are starting to tire of palletizing and unloading — or you just want more of a challenge or additional responsibilities — consider learning how to operate a forklift, which will make you eligible for warehouse driver jobs. Almost all forklift driver positions require some training, since you'll be operating pretty specialized equipment: you'll need to learn safety standards (as dictated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and become certified as a forklift driver. Furthermore, although many of the operational techniques are similar, high-reach forklifts require additional training — but that may be worth it in the long run, especially if you work in a larger warehouse that stacks goods.

Next step: managing and supervising

Forklift operation and experience may be a concise qualification to put on your resume, but it also shows that you've invested in your industry enough to deserve additional responsibilities — not to mention it will assure employers that you know and abide by necessary safety procedures. But if you're already a forklift driver, your eye might be on the next step: warehouse supervisor. Warehouse managers and supervisors are in charge of delegating tasks to teams of movers, drivers, and other workers. They ensure safety and quality protocols are being followed and address any problems that arise in addition to liaising with corporate offices.

Supervising isn't just about overseeing, though, and you'll need to do more than just give orders. Experience unloading, palletizing and operating forklifts will inform your decisions during the recruiting and hiring process and when you're training new employees. Workers are more likely to trust a manager who has experience doing what they do.

If you want to be promoted to a supervisory role, your resume will need to detail your professional growth throughout your career and highlight relevant skills that make you a strong candidate. That's good advice at any stage, whether you're applying to entry-level positions in warehouses or looking to land a managerial position.

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