How to Hire a Package Handler

Package handlers are critical to logistics and distribution. They have a variety of responsibilities, including sorting packages based on their destination’s size, type and delivery route. They can be involved in the physical aspects of the job, like loading and unloading packages and quality control.

Package handlers ensure deliveries arrive on time and compliance with safety and regulatory standards is met.   

What Do Package Handlers Do?

Package handlers play a critical role in the logistics and supply chain operations. Their duties extend beyond merely moving packages; they are instrumental in ensuring the efficiency and safety of the package transportation process. Here’s an expanded overview of their responsibilities:

  • Operate Material Handling Equipment: Package handlers are skilled in using various material handling equipment to facilitate the movement of goods. This includes:
    • Hand Trucks: Utilized for moving smaller loads within a facility, enhancing mobility and reducing physical strain on the handler.
    • Pallet Jacks: Essential for transporting palletized goods, these tools help in moving heavier loads with ease, ensuring stability and safety.
    • Forklifts: For larger and heavier items, forklifts are indispensable in warehouses and distribution centers, allowing for the stacking and retrieval of goods from different heights.
  • Unload and Load Vehicles: They are responsible for efficiently unloading goods from incoming vehicles and loading them onto outgoing ones. This involves:
    • Inspecting Goods: Checking for any damage or discrepancies upon arrival and before dispatch to ensure quality control.
    • Optimizing Space: Strategically arrange packages within the vehicle to maximize space utilization, ensure stability during transit, and prevent damage.
  • Inventory Management: Some package handlers are also involved in inventory management tasks, which include:
    • Stock Audits: Participating in periodic inventory checks to verify stock levels, identify discrepancies, and update inventory records accordingly.
    • Inventory Organization: Ensuring that goods are properly organized within the warehouse or facility, making it easier to locate items when needed and maintaining a tidy workspace.
  • Ensure Safety and Compliance: Package handlers must adhere to safety protocols and regulatory compliance standards to prevent injuries and accidents. This includes:
    • Following Safety Procedures: Using personal protective equipment (PPE), adhering to safe lifting techniques, and following guidelines for operating equipment.
    • Hazard Identification: Recognizing potential hazards in the workplace and taking appropriate measures to mitigate risks.
  • Collaborate with Team Members: Effective communication and teamwork are crucial, as package handlers often work in coordination with other warehouse staff, drivers, and management to ensure the smooth flow of operations.
  • Documentation and Record-Keeping: Completing necessary paperwork related to shipping and receiving, tracking inventory movements, and maintaining records for accountability and traceability.

Basically, package handlers are integral to the logistics sector, ensuring the smooth and efficient flow of goods from origin to destination. Their multifaceted role requires a blend of physical skill, attention to detail, and the ability to work effectively in a fast-paced environment.

how to hire a package handler

The Importance of Package Handlers in the Logistics Chain

Package handlers oversee deliveries for logistics and distribution networks. They optimize operational workflows and minimize delays by scanning and tracking packages at different warehouse or facility transition points.

Crafting the Perfect Package Handler Job Description

Is your small business looking to hire one of these employees? You need to put together an excellent job description.

A good job description will outline the qualifications, required skills, and responsibilities. Usually, a good candidate has a high school diploma or equivalent and a basic proficiency with scanning equipment and technology. Generally, they should be able to lift about 50 pounds.

how to hire a package handler

Differences and Overlaps: Package Handlers, Warehouse Workers, and Material Moving Machine Operators

A package handler has responsibilities that include:

  • Sorting packages and categorizing them by destination, size and priority.
  •  Safely load and unload from different vehicles using techniques and equipment to prevent damage.
  •  Package handlers should also be able to use barcode scanners and other tracking systems.

The package handler job description includes walking, bending, and lifting. Candidates are often asked to work different shifts, including weekends and nights.

A job description for a general warehouse worker has similarities and differences.

  • These employees are tasked with receiving, counting, and managing inventory and picking and preparing packaging orders for shipments.
  •  They should be able to operate various warehouse tools like pallet jacks and forklifts.

One of the significant differences between the two job descriptions is that package handlers are specifically trained to handle, sort and move packages.

AspectPackage HandlersWarehouse WorkersMaterial Moving Machine Operators
Primary DutiesLoading and unloading packages from delivery vehicles, sorting packages, and preparing them for shipment or distribution.Receiving, storing, and distributing materials, parts, and products within a warehouse. They may also be involved in inventory management and order fulfillment.Operating machinery such as forklifts, conveyor belts, cranes, and other equipment to move, load, and unload materials in a variety of settings.
Typical Work EnvironmentDistribution centers, warehouses, and sorting facilities. Work is fast-paced and can be physically demanding.Warehouses, distribution centers, and storage facilities. The environment can be fast-paced, especially in facilities that operate around the clock.Warehouses, manufacturing plants, construction sites, and ports. The environment can vary widely depending on the industry and specific machinery operated.
Necessary SkillsPhysical stamina and strength, attention to detail, ability to work in a team, time management.Physical stamina and strength, organizational skills, basic math skills for inventory, teamwork and communication skills.Mechanical skills, attention to detail, certification for operating specific machinery (e.g., forklift certification), safety awareness.
Education RequirementsHigh school diploma or equivalent is often sufficient; on-the-job training is typically provided.High school diploma or equivalent is commonly required; additional training or certifications can be beneficial.High school diploma or equivalent; technical training or certifications for specific machinery (e.g., forklift, crane operation) may be required.
Career Advancement OpportunitiesWith experience, package handlers can move into supervisory roles, or transition into other logistics and supply chain roles.Opportunities to advance to supervisor or manager positions, or specialize in areas like inventory management or logistics planning.Potential to advance to supervisory or managerial positions, or specialize in operating more complex machinery. Some operators may pursue certifications in multiple types of equipment to enhance job prospects.

Key Qualities and Qualifications for a Package Handler

A good package handler has the following qualities:

  • Physical stamina and strength are essential because package handling is demanding. It requires an employee who can move heavy items and carry and lift different items safely and effectively. 
  • A good employee also pays attention to detail. Packages need to be dispatched, handled and sorted correctly. Errors need to be minimized
  • They also must have the ability to be fast and efficient because accuracy is essential. Package handlers must also have good communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.

They must also be familiar with local safety regulations, including procedures and workplace safety standards. Because these jobs are usually entry-level, a high school diploma is often all that’s needed. It demonstrates the basic mathematical and literacy skills for performing simple calculations and completing paperwork. 

how to hire a package handler

The Hiring Process for Package Handlers

Recruiting the best package handlers means understanding the skills, physical demands, and duties required. You should offer a competitive compensation package that’s above the market rate.

Identifying Your Warehouse Needs

Hiring the correct package handler means clarifying your warehouse needs.

Shipment Volume

Taking stock of your projected and current incoming and outgoing shipments will tell you how many package handlers are necessary.

Processing Times 

The average time it takes to process a shipment is another metric. For example, if processing times are bad and delays are happening, it might be time to add more package handlers.

Seasonal Differences

Every industry has peaks and valleys, like retail outlets’ holiday seasons. During the spikes, you’ll often need additional staffing. 

There are other things to consider, such as whether your warehouse plans an expansion requiring more employees. 

how to hire a package handler

Where to Find Skilled Package Handlers

If you’re ready to grow your team and want to avoid needing to hire a family member or do all of the work yourself, here are some options:

  • Platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Monster have an extensive reach. They have a vast user base and a diverse applicant pool. Many of these have advanced filtering options that make it easy to find the best candidates.
  • Specialized job platforms specific to industries are another option. They cater to a target audience; the candidates your small business can find on these will have the relevant skills and experience. They also offer additional resources and insights.
  • You can also explore job fairs, community bulletin boards, and other unusual ways to promote a job opening. Some companies even explore building a team with contractors and freelancers instead of traditional employees.

Interviewing and Hiring for a Package Handler Job

 A candidate should have a mix of soft skills and physical capabilities.

  • Role-playing exercises can reveal their abilities to collaborate and communicate.
  •  A candidate can be tested on stacking boxes or organizing different items in a specific time frame.
  •  You can also test a candidate’s ability to find errors in lists and shipping labels.

The standard hiring process should include a few steps: an application review, an initial interview, and an aptitude and skills assessment for a package handler. Create an objective methodology to ensure you find the best fit and reduce hiring bias.

An in-person interview often follows that up, and then a check of the references before a job offer is made. Send an interview rejection letter to candidates who don’t make the cut and follow up with those who do.

how to hire a package handler

Compensation and Benefits for Package Handlers

Two big players in the industry, FedEx and UPS, pay different compensation and have benefits as part of their package handler job listings.

As of this year, a FedEx package handler earns approximately $15.80 an hour, ranging between $13 and $19 per hour. FedEx offers full-time health benefits and some coverage for part-timers.

UPS offers benefit packages to both part-time and full-time unionized employees. That company provides healthcare,  a pension, tuition assistance, option days and paid holidays.

Onboarding and Integrating New Package Handlers

A good onboarding process checks the following boxes for a package handler. Here’s a guide on how to onboard new employees in this sector:

  • Clear job descriptions that outline expectations, responsibilities and roles should include performance standards and safety protocols. A small business should emphasize safety right away with guidelines on any package handler job description.  
  • A formal orientation should include a welcoming session that explains the company’s values and cultures. You’ll also need to conduct comprehensive safety training.
  •  That’s followed up by hands-on training that’s job-specific. This is an excellent time to match up new hires in a mentorship program with experienced employees.

Onboarding should be an ongoing process that includes regular safety workshops and safety and performance evaluations for packaging handling. 

FAQs: How to Hire a Package Handler

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions that will help you find the right package handler.

Is a high school diploma needed for a package handler job?

That depends on the employer and the specific nature of the job they are hiring for. Many small businesses prioritize how a candidate can handle packages and adhere to safety protocols over education.

Is health insurance typically offered to part-time package handlers?

Health insurance depends on the specific terms of the job. In the United States, the Affordable Health Care Act requires that some companies with 50 or more employees offer this type of insurance to full-time workers.

There’s no mandate for extending this to part-time employees, even though some companies offer benefits to part-time package handler employees.

What are important safety protocols for package handlers?

Proper lifting techniques are at the top of this list on any job board. Employees should always be taught to use leg muscles instead of the back and bend at the knees. Proper lifting techniques also include teaching them to avoid twisting their backs.

Personal protective equipment should include safety shoes and gloves, as well as high-visibility vests.

A package handler should also receive training on hazardous materials if applicable. Equipment safety and proper training on pallet jacks, forklifts, and conveyor belts are important.

Finally, these employees should be trained in emergency procedures and know the location of first aid kits and how they are used, plus the location of emergency exits and evacuation routes.

What training is recommended for package handlers?

Package handlers should receive training with solid information about any package handler job.

  1. An introduction to company policies and procedures and an overview of the entire process that includes sorting, loading, and unloading should be first.
  2. Safety training is important, and that includes the use of personal protective equipment as well as equipment safety and proper lifting techniques.
  3. Teamwork and communication skills are critical. That’s why these employees should be trained in effective communication with supervisors and team members.
  4. A package handler should also have some training in quality control that includes attention to detail in all areas of package handling.

Use a training plan template to streamline the process and include all these elements.

What’s the typical career progression for a package handler?

The Entry Level Position

An entry-level package handler should be developing efficient handling techniques and working to understand the whole logistical process. That should be clear on any job board.

 An experienced package handler is ready to train new employees and manage a specific part of the operation.

The Supervisor Package Handler Job Description

 Supervisory positions include team leaders or shift supervisors, overseeing other employees’ work and managing schedules.

 A warehouse or operations manager might require additional training because they oversee the entire operation. They have moved well beyond loading packages.

 Finally, a logistics distribution manager has an advanced skill set that includes a full understanding of supply chains, and advanced analytics know-how.  

Image: Envato Elements

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.

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