The skills you need to showcase in your DHL industrial year applications

Emphasise any manual jobs you've done or any work experience you've completed in DHL's sectors of interest.

DHL recruiters tell applicants to their graduate programmes that in applications they want to see examples of when candidates have used and developed skills that will be useful on the job. And it is no different when they assess applications for their work experience year placements in operational warehouse team leadership.

The skills that DHL seeks in industrial year operational warehouse team leaders

DHL is coy about the skills it values in work experience applicants – besides stating the need for applicants to have a desire to work in the industry, drive and a willingness to take on responsibility. However, it is possible to identify valuable skills to write about by:

  • reading the graduate profiles on this employer hub
  • watching the videos and reading the blogs of graduates on the DHL graduate website
  • reviewing the services that DHL provides in different sectors on the DHL corporate website and reading the company’s 2020 strategy
  • checking out DHL’s guide to logistics: Discovering Logistics (search for it).

For example, if applying for an operational warehouse team leader industrial year placement, we believe that the attributes you should highlight include:

  • the potential to lead, take on responsibility and manage people: team leaders manage and direct (one graduate trainee has said that she manages a team of 30). An ability to motivate and inspire your team to achieve an objective or overcome a challenge is essential.
  • commercial awareness: team leaders have to keep in mind commercial objectives and consider how their actions and those of their teams affect those objectives – for example, ensuring customer satisfaction by turning around work in an agreed timeframe.
  • an ability to innovate and make improvements: warehouse team leaders often get involved with plans to improve processes.
  • relationship-building, communication and negotiating skills: essential for management and for working with others across the business.
  • stamina and ability to work shifts: as DHL says, its operations work 24 hours a day so you will be allocated shifts
  • attention to detail: essential to ensure quality.
  • decision-making, analytical and problem solving skills: being able to decide on the best course of action and react quickly to changes in plan are essential.
  • organisation and time management.
  • an ability to achieve an objective, even in the face of setbacks.

How to highlight your skills on your DHL application

Include all of your work experience when filling in the work experience section of the online application (you are asked to detail your responsibilities and what you’ve learned) – even if you don’t think your experience is anything special. Any experience is valuable, as long as you can show you completed the tasks and met objectives. DHL doesn’t explicitly require work experience in logistics and supply chain, although it will no doubt be welcome if you have it. It’s worth emphasising any manual part-time jobs you've done – in a factory or warehouse, for example – as that will indicate that you have some understanding of the work and challenges faced by the teams you will manage or work alongside. For similar reasons, it will also impress if you have work experience in one of the sectors DHL operates in, such as retail.

Pointers on making the most of your work experience

  • Say how you used the skills listed above (and further ones you’ve identified through your research) in your summaries. Consider how you used the skills in more detail. If you worked in a bar, for instance, you probably would have developed your assertive communication skills when dealing with problematic, inconsiderate or drunken patrons. If you worked as a sales assistant on commission, you may have used your persuasive communication skills to help indecisive customers to make a purchase.
  • When writing about your responsibilities and actions, use numbers wherever possible to give some context and scale to your achievements. If you were a supermarket checkout superviser, for example, how many cashiers did you supervise at any one time? If you worked in a bar, how many people would you serve on an average night? If you worked in retail, did you have targets to achieve? Did you hit them?
  • When writing about what you’ve learned from each experience, reflect upon what you’ve learned about yourself, as well as about what the job involves. Working in retail, you may have gained an understanding of how tills operate and stocktakes are made, but you would have also discovered the type of working environment that suits you best. For example, do you like working shifts? Do you thrive in a customer-facing role or are you better working in a backroom role? Do you prefer working in a team or individually? Are you calm under pressure (eg if there is a long queue on the checkout)?
  • See the TARGETjobs' article on how to impress on your online applications for internships and placements for more ideas on how to present your experience.

Your answer to the DHL application form question ‘Why would you be suitable for the role you have applied for? (4096 characters/200 words)’ is also a good chance to sell your skills to DHL recruiters. While part of your answer should include a desire to work for DHL, you should also talk about how you have the skills to perform the job well and to benefit from the training. As you have a tight word count, it might be best to focus on one or two examples that show how you’ve taken on responsibility and demonstrated further useful skills. You need to provide details of what you did. Use the STAR technique to ensure you give the required detail: explain the Situation, the Tasks you needed to complete, the Actions you took and the Results (or outcomes).

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