Postal clerks work behind the desk at public post offices. They provide a wide range of customer service duties, from inspecting and sorting mail to selling stamps and package material. The requirements to become a postal clerk can vary by country and region, but most hopeful workers need to be at least 18 years old, hold high school diplomas, and pass general skills exams. Most post office managers perform extensive background checks on prospective employees to ensure they hire honest, hardworking individuals.
A person who wants to become a postal clerk can obtain many of the skills necessary to succeed at the job in high school courses. Math and computer classes are important to help a student develop the technical skills he or she will use, such as calculating postage costs and entering customer information into electronic files. Communications courses prepare an individual for dealing with coworkers and customers in a clear, effective manner. Some post offices will hire high school graduates with no previous work experience, but most employers prefer applicants who have demonstrated their abilities in other customer service jobs. Working at a retail store, grocery store, or call center can be very helpful in preparing a person to become a postal clerk.
With the appropriate education and experience, an individual who wants to become a postal clerk can put together a resume and begin submitting applications to local post offices. Many large cities have central offices that handle hiring for all local branches, and an applicant can find out how and where to submit resumes by contacting a main office or searching government Web sites. It is essential to be thorough and honest on a resume, since all of the reported information is checked before a hiring manager will contact an applicant for an interview. The resume should include the applicant's level of education, all previous jobs, and dates of employment at each.
The background check process could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to complete, so a person who is trying to become a postal clerk should not worry if he or she is not called in right away. Managers must confirm employment dates, school information, and citizenship. In addition, an extensive criminal history check is conducted to make sure an applicant does not have a record. Due to strict government postal regulations, even a petty criminal history can potentially damage a person's chances of getting a job.
An individual who successfully lands an interview can expect to speak with several managers, take a drug test, and receive a basic course outlining the fundamental responsibilities of the job. Most countries require interviewees to pass written examinations that test math skills, basic job functions, and reading comprehension. Once a person lands a job, he or she can expect to spend several weeks in formal, on-the-job training. After a probationary period of supervised work and ongoing training, an individual is granted the chance to begin working independently.