How to Write a Forklift Driver's Resume
In any industry, writing a resume that highlights your education, qualifications, skills, licences, and working experience is essential to getting the job you are looking for. Writing a resume for a forklift driver is no different; however, the key is correctly highlighting your forklift-related skills you have gained to sell your potential employer on your worth.
Start with the resume basics.Every resume (regardless of industry) should have: Your name, contact details (phone number, email, address, etc), work experience/career overview, education, skills, qualifications and licences.
- References can be listed at the end of the resume, or simply be "available upon request". Similarly, hobbies and interests are completely optional.
- See How to Make a Resume for advice on how to craft a great general resume.
Research what kind of forklift driving job you are looking for.Knowing the job you want will help you apply for the right positions and tailor your resume to them.
- A job titled "Forklift Driver" usually is just that: a job driving primarily standard counterbalance forklifts (unless otherwise stated) around the workplace, possibly loading and unloading trucks, putting finished goods into wall racking dispatch racks and getting raw materials for machine operators or other staff. It usually means you will be a part of a multi-man team; sometimes you may be required to do other work in addition to forklift driving such as picking orders, stacking pallets, machine operating, and general process work.
- A job titled "Storeperson" is usually a role in charge of the workplace's warehouse area, often responsible for the loading and unloading of trucks and shipping containers, picking orders to prepare for despatch (trucks or containers), invoicing of orders, retrieving and putting away stock/goods into warehouse aisles, and recording received stock on the warehouse inventory system (sometimes this data is input by office staff, provided the store clerk has checked off/received the anticipated deliveries.) It usually means you are the sole forklift operator in case of a very small warehouse, or may work with 1 or 2 other regular forklift operators. Store person jobs usually need to drive both counterbalance forklifts and reach forklift trucks, to load/unload trucks, and to move stock to and from warehouse aisles respectively. Provided you have at least a few years experience in the warehousing/logistics industry and experience with counterbalance forklifts, they may be willing to train you on the reach forklifts; however, experience is almost always preferred.
- A job titled "Reach truck driver" is the job driving the reach forklifts in the narrow aisles of the warehouse, performing retrievals and put aways, sometimes working in conjunction with another counterbalance forklift driver or storeperson, sometimes the reach truck driver doubles as the store-person themselves. Reach forklift drivers need to be able to safely and efficiently operate reach forklifts in narrow aisles, often retrieving and putting away stock as high as 5 pallet loads/racking spaces high or more!
Highlight your forklift experience in your previous jobs.If you have already worked with forklifts in the past, it is essential you highlight what kind of experience you gained from each of the jobs you worked in. For example you might mention operation of LPG/electric/diesel counterbalance forklifts, retrieving and putting away stock in narrow aisles up to 4 high, experienced with reach forklifts, etc.
Add forklift skills to your resume.Under your skills section, you can once again stress your experience with forklifts and list all tasks you can do already. For example, loading and unloading trucks and shipping containers, experience with counterbalanced and reach forklifts (sometimes job advertisers even mention the forklift by brand - so if you have driven that brand, be sure to mention it!), experienced retrieving and putting away stock in narrow aisles, etc...
Consider including a "core skills" section.At the very start of their resume, some people use a "core skills" section underlining key experience right off the bat; it's somewhat like a summary of their appeal to the potential employer.
- This can be very useful in applying for forklift operating jobs; for example a core skills section when applying for a storeperson job could read: "10 years experience in the warehousing, manufacturing, and logistics industry. Confident and experienced in operation of counterbalance and reach forklifts (Battery/LPG/Gas/Diesel), with 7 years operating experience."
- If you have only just gotten your forklift licence/certification, if will be difficult getting a forklift driver or storeperson job right off the bat; instead apply for other jobs in warehousing, manufacturing, and logistics that use a forklift as part of the job. Process Workers, Machine Operators, Container Unloaders, Order Pickers, Packers, and some Labourers use forklifts as part of their job, so employers require minimal or even no operating experience (apart from the valid forklift licence/certification).
- Temp agencies/recruitment agencies offer plenty of forklift driving opportunities to both newer and experienced forklift operators. As long as you don't mind working in different workplaces occasionally, and are available for on-call work, they are an excellent resource for building experience.
- Ask yourself what kind of forklift operating job you would like:
- "Forklift drivers" are generally the easiest and least stressful, working in multi-man teams of other forklift drivers, performing ad-hoc duties around the warehouse/manufacturing plant such as assisting loading and unloading trucks, putting finished goods into dispatch racks, getting raw materials for machine operators or other staff, etc
- "Storeperson" jobs are usually well paid; however, they are often the most difficult and busiest, as you are usually in charge of the workplace's warehouse area, and are often solely responsible for the loading and unloading of trucks and shipping containers, picking orders to prepare for despatch, invoicing of orders, retrieving and putting away stock/goods into warehouse aisles, etc.
- "Reach truck drivers" are generally among the most well paid (depending on driver demand in your region or country); however, experience on reach forklifts is often difficult to achieve. Most workplaces seek experienced operators, but a few will be willing to train you if you can prove you are keen and willing to learn. Reach truck drivers sometimes are also the storeperson; in that case, they drive both counterbalance forklifts for loading and unloading of trucks, and drive reach forklifts for narrow aisle use. Reach forklift drivers need to be able to safely and efficiently operate reach forklifts in narrow aisles, often retrieving and putting away stock as high as 5 pallet loads/racking spaces high or more!
- Other forklift operating jobs include:
- "Stevedore/Longshoreman (operating heavy duty forklifts, reach stackers, container cranes and forklifts, among other shipping container port equipment
- "Reach Stacker Operator (technically not a forklift, but usually falls under similar licencing/certification categories)
- " Double Deep Forklift Operator
- "Sideloader Forklift Operator (operating of sideloader-type and multidirectional forklifts used for handling loads (e.g. timber, piping, etc))
- "Order Picker Operator (operating of "order picker-type" forklifts, which lift the load and operator in the air, allowing the operator to pick stock direct from the racks at any level)
- " Turret Truck Operator (operating of turret truck forklifts, looks similar to an order picker, however is not used for picking orders - they are used for the put aways and retrievals of stock in very narrow aisles at extreme heights - some are able to operate up to 17 metres (55ft) high! Also referred to as VNA Forklift (Very Narrow Aisle))
- " Articulated Forklift Operator (operating of articulated counterbalance forklifts, such as bendi, flexi, aisle master, and more - commonly employers will refer to the brand in the advertisement; used for general counterbalance forklift work, as well as ability to work in very narrow aisles)
- Be aware of your own skills, experience, and limitations when applying for certain forklift jobs; for example, you may not be comfortable lifting loads very high, or have no experience dealing with unstable and/or expensive loads (e.g. glass or electronics). Similarly ensure you have enough experience and/or temperament to deal with this sort of forklift operating. Be sure to read the job posting thoroughly to see if the job is right for you.
- Never claim to be "experienced" if you have only just gotten your forklift licence/certification; inexperience is easily seen and definitely frowned upon if you claimed you had the average "minimum 2 years experience" on your resume, when you only just got your licence/certification a few months ago. Forklift driving experience can easily be gained by working other jobs in the industry that use forklifts; when you have the experience, you are free to ask for a reference and move on to a forklift driver or storeperson job, if you desire to do so.
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