Working in logistics or transportation is typically not a planned career path for most people. Rarely do fourth graders mention becoming a transportation manager or freight broker as their lifelong ambition. Yet, the industry is massive, always evolving, and full of opportunity. With high commissions, work flexibility, and a constantly transforming industry, it can be hard to imagine working in a different field.

What attracts people to transportation, and more specifically logistics? How do you get started in an entry-level role for which you didn’t know you were qualified? And in an industry this large, how many logistics companies are there?

We will discuss these questions as well as who is a good fit for a career in logistics, and how you can get started right out of college. 

Entry-Level Talent

college grad post_1If you are approaching the end of your college career and are not sure what you want to do next, a job in logistics might be for you. Recent college graduates are highly recruited as desirable new hires for logistics brokerage companies. Large organizations like C.H. Robinson, TQL, and Coyote Logistics recruit heavily on US college campuses through career fairs, presentations, and on-campus interviews. They are looking for raw talent. Someone that is both self-motivated, and also driven toward financial gain.  

Typically, recruiting or hiring managers won’t put a lot of emphasis on your major or course of study. Instead, they are looking for that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that successful brokers and logistics professionals have. It’s being part sales-minded, but also having that attention to detail and being willing to work hard. Like with all entry-level positions you start by learning the fundamentals and must work hard to succeed. 

Being personable and well-spoken will go a long way in this industry. From dispatching trucks, booking loads, or making sales calls to customers, you need to connect with the person on the other end of the phone. 

considering-a-career-in-logistics

Expect to spend the majority of your day working in an office and communicating withcustomers, co-workers, and carriers face-to-face and via phone, text, instant message, and email. While technology continues to advance in this industry, be prepared to log some hours on the phone. To better understand freight agent roles, consider reading these two posts: What is a Freight Brokerage? and Should I Become a Freight Agent?

Compensation and Training 

Compensation is everything, so we’ll get right to it. Average salaries in this industry may not knock your socks off. Per Glassdoor entry-level Logistics Brokers salaries average about $35,000 before any commission. It’s typically the allure of an unlimited commission that entices potential new hires, especially those looking for a career in sales. Every company is different and whether the commission is paid on the invoice date, delivery date, or payment date you can expect some type of commission plan as part of the overall pay structure.earn-money-in-logistics

Training in this industry is critical. Some employers or hiring managers take the sink-or-swim approach, but getting a leg up on the processes and nuances that will help you succeed is a quick way to increase your earnings. Large corporations like C.H. Robinson invest time and money to get their rookies up-to-speed. It can be easier, more efficient and more cost-effective to teach someone everything the way you want it done versus trying to break old habits.

Training used to be exclusively in-person, but those days are changing. We can all benefit from synchronous and asynchronous learning. Video and Learning Management Tools make it much easier to connect with employees and offer round-the-clock resources.

Casual Good Times

Every day is a casual day now that many office workers are at home. Logistics and transportation companies have embraced casual dress codes since brokerages popped up in the ‘80s. Open workspaces and a flat management structure make it easy to get to know everyone from the new kid on the block to the owner of the company. Embrace those food trucks, happy hours, and get to know the team.         

Finding That First Gig 

finding-your-first-gigBegin by researching logistics companies located in your area or in a place you would like to live. Some companies have large offices in a central area while others have smaller locations sprinkled around the country. Many large companies recruit in the city where they are based as well as regionally at colleges and career fairs:

 

  1. CH Robinson  -- Eden Praire, MN
  2. Echo Global Logistics -- Chicago, IL 
  3. Total Quality Logistics -- Cincinnati, OH
  4. XPO Logistics -- Charlotte, NC

Tips for Connecting with Potential Employers

Getting your foot in the door is one of the most challenging parts of any job search. Recruiters are frequently inundated with outreach from prospective candidates and won’t be able to respond to everyone. Aside from sending targeted emails, consider exploring these approaches to networking:  

Job Fairs

When attending an on-campus job fair, research the organizations attending and plan your day. Don’t wander from spot to spot trying to get the best giveaways. You are there for a job. Save the frisbee and pen collection until after you have met with all of your preferred employers. Be engaging, listen to what they have to say, ask thoughtful questions, and find out how to submit your resume. 

On-Campus Interviews

Sign up to participate in on-campus interviews. It’s a great way to have a quick one-on-one conversation with recruiters and learn whether their company could be a good fit for you. It’s also convenient. No traveling back-and-forth between campus and the interview! 

Apply Online

Almost every organization has a career page with up-to-date job postings. Submit your cover letter and resume. Then, follow-up by phone, email or both to let them know you are serious. But be careful to strike a balance and not become a thorn in someone’s side.

Referrals

Ask a friend or family member to refer you to a specific contact within an organization. If you know somebody who raves about their company or job, ask them to submit your resume for consideration. Referrals are typically given much more weight than applications. 

Social Media

Follow the organization you are interested in to gain a better understanding of their mission, culture, and competition. Does it look like a fun and engaging place to work, or is their social media devoid of any personality? Don’t forget about your social media. Companies are looking. Your tirade on politics or weepy breakup posts could reflect poorly on you. As you get ready to leave school behind, do a quick audit of what you have put out into the world.  

Details Matter

As you move through the interview process, ask questions to help you better understand who you will be working with, what your responsibilities will be, and what type of advancement is available.ask-the-right-questions-about-your-next-career-move

Compensation

While you might be inclined to take any job that comes your way, be sure to consider the compensation structure being offered. Will you be paid hourly or a salary? Are you on a commission or draw? How and when is the commission paid? Is there any cap to the commission you’re eligible to earn? What does the average new employee make with regular pay, commission and bonus? 

Benefits

Benefits can also be a determining factor for employment, especially if you are fortunate enough to compare offers from multiple organizations. You might consider asking which benefits are offered? When do they begin? Don’t forget to ask about that 401k. Pro tip: find out whether the company will match a percentage of the contributions you make to a retirement fund, and whether there is a vesting schedule.

Paid Time Off

Never ask about paid time off and vacation while you are interviewing – it can leave a potentially negative impression. DO ask about paid time off (PTO), vacation, and holidays before you accept. Transitioning from school vacation schedules to full-time work can be quite a change. Get ready to work the day after Thanksgiving!

Want to Learn More?

Armstrong Transport Group currently keeps its focus on experienced logistics professionals, but we anticipate offering more entry-level training resources in 2021 and beyond. If you – or someone you know – are a candidate to join the Armstrong team we’d love to connect today!

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About Lauren Russell

Lauren Russell serves as Armstrong’s Chief Marketing Officer. Originally joining the team in 2012 to focus on human resources and recruiting, Lauren recently transitioned to marketing, social media, agent relations, and event planning. She has over 20 years of experience in logistics and transportation.