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How to Succeed on the Logistics Coordinator Career Path

February 14, 2024
Joe Fitzpatrick

The job title 'Logistics Coordinator' shows up in a few different places, from event management to import/export. Our guide is about the role as it exists in a warehouse or similar facility. Here, the Logistics Coordinator, or Shipping and Receiving Clerk as they are sometimes known, is responsible for the efficient inbound and outbound flow of goods.

To help you navigate this career path, our guide will be broken down into the following parts:

  • Is this the right job for you?
  • Applying for Positions
  • Succeeding as a Logistics Coordinator
  • Future Career Pathways

Whether you're considering a shift into logistics, already in the application process, or trying to figure out where you can go next, we hope this guide supports your journey.

Is Logistics Coordinator a Good Job? Deciding if This Is the Career for You

Background and Education Requirements: What Qualifications Do Logistics Coordinators Need?

Many logistics jobs are quite technical and require some formal expertise in operations management, strategy or engineering. But the logistics coordinator role is a more hands-on route into the field.

You may be wondering, “what qualifications do I need?” - candidates for these positions are typically expected to have a high school diploma, but prior work experience is more important, and it’s rare for companies to ask for specific credentials beyond that.

If you can demonstrate the following attributes then you’ll be a strong candidate:

  • Some knowledge of logistics or warehousing: Anything from working in a big box store to taking some business classes goes a long way. Even better if you’ve worked directly for a freight company or in a warehouse before.
  • Scheduling Skills: Any experience you have organizing shifts, events or projects can help. If you’ve ever had to solve problems while looking at a calendar or timetable, you’ve got this part covered.
  • Diligent Communication: Jobs where you’re on the phone all day, have to respond promptly to emails, or answer lots of questions from colleagues or customers with accurate information, are all good preparation for going into this line of work.
  • Tech-Savviness: Can show you’re comfortable with spreadsheets or quick to learn new software? Then you have a big advantage. 
  • Decisive Under Pressure: If you know how to take action in the face of competing priorities, you’ll be a standout candidate. You can back that up on your résumé with anything from emergency services to kitchen work.
  • An Eye for Detail: Some experience with data entry is a plus, but if you’ve ever worked for a bank, accounting or law firm, or in a hospital or doctor’s office, then you have a strong background in environments where accuracy is important.

Different companies will value these attributes in different proportions, and no employer will expect you to have solid experience in every single one of these areas. Depending on the job, you may be able to fill in the gaps with any combination of education, aptitude, and willingness to learn.

If you don’t quite fit the profile, there are also some entry-level logistics coordinator positions out there. For example:

  • Logistics Coordinator at a smaller facility with only a few dock doors.
  • Assistant Logistics Coordinator at a growing business where the transportation or warehouse manager has overall responsibility for loading dock operations.
  • Seasonal, maternity/paternity cover, or contract logistics coordinator.

These kinds of roles may be slightly lower pressure, or have systems in place to ensure you can learn the ropes without worrying too much about mistakes. Once you have some experience you’ll be able to move into a fully-fledged logistics coordinator role.

Duties & Responsibilities: What Does a Logistics Coordinator Do?

The work of a logistics coordinator can be quite demanding. You'd be the one making sure deliveries and shipments happen when and how they're supposed to. Things go wrong, suppliers can be difficult, and you'll often be under the gun to make things happen. When you're weighing this against your other options, consider whether you're up for the pressure and complexity of a logistics coordinator role. 

Coordinator jobs are perfect for anyone who wants to get a running start in logistics instead of spending years in formal education accruing student loans.

It's not easy, but it pays better than many similar jobs, and you'll learn a lot about how businesses operate.

Average Logistics Coordinator Salary: How Much Can you Make?  

Pay varies a lot, depending on factors like location, industry, and most importantly, your level of experience.

In major supply chain hubs, the compensation can be quite high. The upper end of the salary scale in these high-stakes, competitive environments, where precision and proficiency are paramount, can exceed $60,000 a year. However, these senior logistics coordinator roles typically require significant experience and a proven track record in handling complex logistical challenges.

Mid-career logistics coordinators, handling tasks independently and sometimes solving tricky operational puzzles, can expect an average salary in the low $40,000s in the United States. As you gain experience, your responsibilities increase and so does the pay.

Entry-level roles like assistant logistics coordinators may only make about $16 in hourly pay, or an annual salary of around $32,000. Here, you would be focusing more on data entry, documentation, and perhaps calling carriers to confirm the status or content of loads. This can be a great starting point for building the skills and experience needed for higher-paying roles.

What if I Want to Work From Home?

Logistics coordinators typically need to work onsite due to the hands-on and dynamic nature of the role. They often communicate directly with the team working in the loading dock, carrier representatives, and other stakeholders, making physical presence crucial for efficient operations.

However, as your career in logistics progresses, the opportunities for remote work increase. More advanced roles, such as logistics analysts or procurement specialists, often handle tasks that can be done remotely. These roles demand a solid understanding of supply chain challenges, and as a logistics coordinator, you'll have ample opportunities to pick these skills up.

If you're aiming for a career path that can eventually transition to remote work, and you're comfortable starting with an onsite position, a coordinator job could be a good choice. The industry continues to evolve alongside technology and remote work culture, indicating a promising trajectory for flexible work arrangements in the future.

More advanced roles, such as logistics analysts or procurement specialists, often handle tasks that can be done remotely. These roles demand a solid understanding of supply chain challenges, and as a logistics coordinator, you'll have ample opportunities to pick these skills up.
A thriving logistics coordinator is often one who can stay calm in the presence of apparent chaos.

Applying for a Logistics Coordinator Role

Where to Look and How to Spot a Good Opportunity

LinkedIn and indeed.com are the most popular places to publish jobs at this kind of level. There are other job boards, but besides getting a direct referral most of the relevant opportunities will be posted to at least one of these two sites.

Besides 'logistics coordinator', there are many other search terms you might use to find these positions. Try combining ‘shipping’, ‘receiving’, ‘operations’ or ‘transport’ with a word like ‘clerk’, ‘assistant’, ‘supervisor’ or ‘associate.’ Bear in mind that many of these combinations will bring up results even more varied than ‘logistics coordinator’, so read the job descriptions carefully.

Whenever you find a job ad that feels right, do some research on the company. Besides the company website it can be worthwhile to search the company name plus "linkedin", "forbes", and indeed "glassdoor" to find out what other people have said about them as an employer.

It’s no use applying for every position you come across. Conserve your energy and send fewer, higher quality applications. Match your own profile to a company and position relevant to you. For example, if this is your first foray into this kind of work, a big facility with many dock doors where you'll be solely responsible for inbound/outbound traffic might not be a good fit.

One final tip: look out for clues about the current tech situation and opportunities for growth at the company. They might say that they expect you to interact with their WMS (warehouse management system), or they might explicitly mention your MS Excel skills. Reading between the lines, you can get a good idea of what to expect going into the job.

Writing Your Résumé for a Logistics Coordinator Position

The main goal for almost any résumé is to show that you are a relevant candidate for the position. There’s not much chance of impressing people at this stage. You can show off your character, intellect, and attitude during the interview.

What is a relevant candidate? First of all, someone who knows what to expect from the job. Secondly, someone whose prior experience points towards a logistics coordinator role as a logical next step. Thirdly, someone who is serious about going in this direction in particular, and is not applying to a huge range of different positions.

Keep your résumé to one page. Rather than listing every bit of experience you’ve ever had, focus on either your most recent jobs, or those that best showcase your touchpoints with the world of supply chains, your scheduling or communication skills, tech-savviness, decisiveness or attention to detail.

A great way to stand out is to put a résumé objective or professional summary at the top of the page. This is a very short statement that describes your goals and motivations at this stage of your career. It could refer to a desire you have to put a certain skill to use, or acquire certain knowledge of the field. Be specific and avoid cliches. 

Include a small section about technical skills, and keep this part simple and factual. Talk about any business software you’ve used, and again, be specific about how you’ve used it. 

Unless you’re a recent graduate, or have qualifications in a business or engineering discipline, you should keep the education section short to save more room to talk about work experience.

Finally, keep in mind while writing your résumé that the message is “I understand what this job is about, and I can do it well.” Any information that doesn’t convey that message is getting in the way. That said, none of your achievements or interests are necessarily irrelevant. You just have to make them relevant, by linking them back to:

  • Supply chain knowledge
  • Scheduling Skills
  • Diligent communication
  • Tech-savviness
  • Decisiveness under pressure
  • Your eye for detail

Logistics Coordinator Interview Questions and Answers

It’s impossible to say what questions will come up in an interview for a logistics coordinator job. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared. If you have solid answers to the following questions, then there’s a good chance nothing will come up that will catch you off-guard:

  1. Why are you interested in a career in logistics?

You should be able to answer any variation of this question with a straightforward personal narrative that shows why this position makes sense at this point in your career. It’s your chance to talk about how your skills and attitude align with the needs of the job. 

One format might be something like “I’ve worked in X, and that’s taught me how to do Y (relevant hard skill), and now I’m looking for an opportunity to use my Z (soft skill or personality trait).”

A really convincing answer to this type of question should demonstrate that you understand the hard parts of this job and can really thrive doing it.

  1. Can you describe a time when you had to resolve a challenging scheduling problem?

This type of question is designed to test your aptitude for the core challenges of the role.

It’s definitely preferable to use an example from work. The perfect story would be one where there were multiple parties with their own time constraints and you played a role in making sure everything came together. If you don’t have one like that, you can always talk about a time you made changes to a plan to prevent a negative outcome, or even canceled something.

The most important thing is to demonstrate decisiveness and an attitude of responsibility. Coordinating calendars and timetables can become very complex, so if you don’t have experience managing exactly this kind of thing, this is also your opportunity to show you’re prepared to rise to the challenge.

  1. How do you prioritize tasks when everything is urgent?

This question is the abstract, soft-skill cousin of the previous one.

The main difference here is that you have plenty of leeway to show off your attitude and approach rather than focusing on specific examples from your experience.

There’s not really a single correct answer here, but you might approach this by unpacking what it means for everything to be urgent. For example, you could ask “do we know for sure that everything is urgent, or can we identify things that are less urgent than we thought?” - another approach would be to talk about the Eisenhower Matrix or a similar framework for task prioritization.

One of your main goals here is to show that you don’t approach pressure by locking down and becoming shortsighted. Avoid answering along the lines of “I just try to get things done as quickly as possible.” 

  1. How do you handle communication with various stakeholders, like drivers, warehouse staff, and customers?

This question addresses your interpersonal skills. You could discuss your experience in managing professional relationships, but you also have some room here to talk in a more abstract way, covering points like understanding different stakeholders’ needs and priorities, being diligent in responding to emails, and communicating with empathy.

  1. Can you discuss a time when something did not go as planned? How did you handle the situation?

The main purpose of this question is to gauge your attitude and resilience.

Any story you have about a chaotic situation can work. Even if you didn’t handle it well at the time, if you can describe the causes and consequences, talk about what you learnt from it, and say confidently that today you can identify what’s important, focus on it, and maintain good spirits amidst unexpected challenges, then you have a solid answer to this line of enquiry.

  1. What systems or software are you comfortable using for logistics coordination?

If you’ve used a dock scheduling, yard management, or warehouse management system before then that’s the first thing you should mention here. It’s worth commenting that you understand that other systems have different interfaces and features, and you’re comfortable adapting to new software.

Secondly, there’s a good chance you’ll need to talk about your spreadsheet skills. It’s no use exaggerating. You’re best off being very frank and straightforward about what you can do in Excel, and reinforce it with a healthy willingness to develop those skills.

Finally you should bring up any complex software you’ve used, or indeed any knowledge you have of data or IT, just to emphasize that you can find your way around new systems quickly.

Succeeding as a Logistics Coordinator

One of the first pitfalls novice logistics coordinators can fall into is relying too much on their own memory. The amount of information that will cross your path in the course of the day can become overwhelming. The best way to deal with this is to have systems for recording practically everything.

Secondly, a thriving logistics coordinator is often one who can stay calm in the presence of apparent chaos. Loading docks often fall behind schedule, and every day has a good chance of bringing something unexpected. Coordinators must take care not to see these problems as personal failures; their job is to salvage whatever order can be salvaged from amidst the confusion.

Next, you should understand that your relationships with carriers, suppliers or customers are the bread and butter of efficient logistics. Take the quality of those relationships seriously, and base them on accountability and factfulness. If you can report to them specific times when their trucks arrived and departed from your facility, you’ll quickly have their respect.

Internal relationships are also important. In many organizations, there is a tendency to overlook the logistics coordinator, seeing shipping and receiving as little more than a cost center to be managed. Coordinators can often see areas for improvement, but they need to push hard to make change happen.

One of the most impactful change projects is getting a comprehensive dock scheduling system implemented, and moving on from spreadsheets. There’s likely to be a few stakeholders to win over with this plan, but doing so can transform the logistics coordinator role from one of managing chaos to driving efficiency and continuous improvement.

Your relationships with carriers, suppliers or customers are the bread and butter of efficient logistics. If you can report to them specific times when their trucks arrived and departed from your facility, you’ll quickly have their respect.
Effective dock scheduling software can totally transform a logistics coordinator job.

Career Pathways for Logistics Coordinators

A good logistics coordinator can advance within the discipline, moving onto bigger and more complex facilities and perhaps ending up with a job title like ‘director of shipping and receiving.’

But the vast majority of the growth opportunities for these professionals lies with either zooming in and specializing or zooming out and taking on broader, more strategic responsibilities. We can divide these opportunities into four categories:

The Commercial Pathway

A big part of the coordinator’s job is managing relationships with carriers, customers or suppliers. As you become more and more effective at holding these partners accountable, inducing them to stick to appointment times, and negotiating issues like detention fees, it’s a logical step to deploy these commercial skills more broadly.

Usually, this means stepping into procurement. There are many procurement positions, for example at small manufacturing facilities, that also have responsibility for shipping and receiving coordination. In practice, this means thinking more about questions of price, inventory, operational costs and profitability.

Having a solid background in both the logistics and commercial sides of operations is the perfect foundation for a career that points towards an eventual role like director of supply chain, or even chief supply chain officer.

The Transport and Distribution Pathway 

When we think of logistics we usually think of the challenges of moving goods around, whether it be by land, by sea, or by air.

If you’re more interested in these complex puzzles than in internal operations, you’re probably well suited for a traditional logistics career. The options are numerous, from freight forwarding or brokerage to fleet management.

Many of these disciplines also include questions of price, and perhaps negotiations with carriers, leading to some overlap with the commercial pathway. But there are also plenty of jobs out there for pure logisticians, focussing entirely on the puzzle of getting goods from A to B in the most efficient manner.

The Facility Operations Pathway

Coordination skills are incredibly transferable.

It’s not unusual for a logistics coordinator to grow into an assistant warehouse manager, or even a production coordinator at a manufacturing facility.

However, in either case some experience managing people will be needed, not to mention some specialized operations knowledge.

There are a few ways a logistics coordinator can get there:

  1. A hands-on role. Sometimes logistics coordinator positions are hybrid roles that also include responsibility for supervising the physical work of the loading dock. But prior experience as a supervisor or team leader in a physically demanding environment may be sufficient.
  2. Mentorship by the Warehouse Manager. In environments where the logistics coordinator reports to the warehouse manager, or otherwise the two work closely together, there may be opportunities for shadowing or mentorship. The coordinator may become a software expert, and through taking responsibility for the WMS, be exposed to many aspects of warehouse management.
  3. Hybrid Roles. At smaller facilities, ‘logistics and warehouse coordinator’ may already be a position. Depending on your prior experience, such positions may be the perfect opportunity to acquire the skills necessary for a transition to warehouse or inventory management.

The Analytics and Change Pathway

For technically-minded logistics coordinators, a fourth pathway is to shift towards leading strategic change projects, particularly those where software plays a central role.

Logistics coordination in a high-tech environment is a more analytical job, looking at data and identifying bottlenecks to drive continuous improvement. Those are incredibly transferable skills, and alongside some knowledge of supply chain challenges, it’s a solid foundation for roles extracting insights from data throughout the supply chain.

How DataDocks Can Help

Effective dock scheduling software can totally transform a logistics coordinator job.

Relying on excel spreadsheets and back-and-forth calls and emails with carriers and customers, work eventually becomes a drag. It can be demoralizing trying to enforce a system of appointments when carriers and customers remain unconvinced.

With the booking process itself automated, you have more time to think about what an efficient schedule looks like. And by collecting data about arrival and departure times, you can have factful conversations with carriers, showing them how arriving on time gets their trucks worked faster.

For a free consultation about how to get dock scheduling implemented at your facility, give us a call on (+1) 647 848-8250, or go ahead and book a demo with the DataDocks team.

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