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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Letter Carriers(1512)

Letter carriers sort and deliver mail, record delivery of registered mail and collect money for cash-on-delivery parcels. Letter carriers are employed by Canada Post Corporation.

Reading Help - Reading
  • May read brief notes from customers about service issues, such as a note advising that a tenant has moved. (1)
  • Read notes from supervisors relaying information about new houses on the route, or requesting information about where specific mail has been delivered. (2)
  • Read union bulletins to stay abreast of labour-management issues. (2)
  • May read contracts with Canada Post to interpret procedures and policies, if they are working on contract. (3)
  • Refer to manuals outlining procedures for completing forms or working with super boxes. (3)
  • Read memos, bulletins and brochures, indexed and collated in a centrally located book, to obtain information on new procedures, products and services. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read street signs and signs posted on homes or businesses when delivering mail. (1)
  • Read address labels on envelopes when sorting mail. (1)
  • Interpret symbols on mail, such as R for registered mail. (1)
  • Read stickers on packages and letters, such as trace mail stickers, to track the status of mail. (1)
  • Read stamps on undelivered mail to identify the reasons for nondelivery. (1)
  • Read forms fastened to letters or parcels regarding address changes, registered mail, priority post or special delivery. (1)
  • Indicate the reason for non-delivery using stamped check boxes onto undelivered mail. (1)
  • Complete a card to notify a resident of a parcel to be picked up. (1)
  • Refer to labelled diagrams of new forms to learn how to complete them. (2)
  • Refer to bus schedules to find out which bus route will take them to a particular location. (2)
  • Refer to postal code books and rate schedules to find specific information. (2)
  • Read route maps or case cards, providing such details as box locations and addresses. These are used particularly when learning a new route. (2)
  • Complete registered mail forms, entering the customer's name and address, description of item, date, serial number, product number and delivery time. (2)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write relay box addresses on the tags of mail bundles to inform drivers where to deliver them. (1)
  • Write notes to new mail carriers or part-time carriers on the same route to advise them of address changes or new addresses. (1)
  • Write notes to themselves to record information relating to matters such as rerouting or to note that several people with different names live at the same address. (1)
  • Make log entries about vehicles used for delivering mail. (1)
  • Complete a variety of forms, such as those used for parcel notification and priority post, writing dates, times, names, addresses, serial numbers and brief notes to facilitate the processing and delivery of mail. (1)
  • Write reports to supervisors informing them when decisions have been made not to deliver mail because of threats to safety. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Accept cash, credit card payments or cheques for payment of cash-on-delivery (COD), postage due and customs charges, sometimes making change. (1)
  • Calculate monthly mileage charges for delivering registered or priority post mail. (2)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Document the time a parcel was received by the customer or the time that a pick-up slip was delivered. (1)
  • Prepare their route schedule, detailing how long each section of the route should take and when and where to stop for lunch, considering factors such as making connections with transportation vehicles. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Weigh parcels to determine whether they will be transported by the letter carrier or a delivery vehicle. (1)
  • Count the number of bundles or count pieces of mail that are undeliverable. (1)
  • May convert weight in kilograms to pounds, doing the calculation in their head. (2)
Data Analysis Math
  • May compare the costs of materials from one job to another, then calculate the percentage increase in costs to adjust the total charged for work. (2)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the weights of bundles of flyers to plan for their distribution over a period of days. (1)
  • Estimate how long it will take to complete a section of a route in order to make a connection with a bus or postal van. An inaccurate estimation may mean missing a connection, or causing a vehicle or other carriers to wait. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Talk to co-workers to establish whose route missorted mail belongs to in order to pass the mail on to that carrier. (1)
  • Interact with customers to obtain signatures, process payments and answer questions. (1)
  • Interact with customers to deal with suggestions and complaints. (2)
  • Interact with customers to resolve delivery barriers, such as aggressive dogs and inappropriately placed mailboxes. Courteously and diplomatically, they persuade customers to co-operate. (2)
  • Interact with supervisors to discuss problems, route changes, policies and customer feedback. (2)
  • Collaborate with co-workers about co-ordinating pick up times, meeting postal vans and discussing the best way to do various routes. (2)
  • Train new letter carriers. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • May have difficulty interpreting names and addresses on envelopes due to poor hand writing. They interact with customers to determine to whom the mail is to be delivered. (1)
  • May face barriers to property access because of aggressive dogs or road construction. They assess the risks and either find a way to safely deliver the mail or bring the mail back to the postal centre, making a report to their supervisor. (2)
  • May deal with angry customers who blame the letter carrier when they have not received an expected letter. They try to reduce the customer's anxiety and identify possible reasons why the letter has not arrived. They may refer the problem to their supervisor if it escalates. (2)
  • May have more mail than usual for their route. They redesign the bundling and route sequence to accommodate the extra mail and meet delivery deadlines. (2)
Decision Making
  • Decide how to dress appropriately for outdoor work given that day's weather conditions. (1)
  • Decide what to do with mail that is inadequately addressed. They decide whether to look up the correct address information by referencing postal sources or return the mail to the sender. (1)
  • Decide which mail to sort first and when to deliver flyers. (1)
  • Decide how to deal with dangerous or harassing situations encountered when delivering mail. (2)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

The daily activities of letter carriers are highly structured and their routes are predetermined. Each day consists of sorting mail, delivering mail and meeting transportation vehicles, if necessary, to get to sections of the route. Letter carriers plan how to complete the route in the most efficient manner to meet deadlines, such as delivering priority post mail by noon. They also plan their route considering personal preferences, such as regarding the weight of their bag. (2)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Memorize routes, transportation schedules and the order of streets to deliver mail efficiently. This is especially important if a letter carrier does not have a set route and delivers to many different routes.
  • Memorize the arrangement of sorting cases to slot mail quickly.
  • Memorize postal codes for their routes.
  • Remember the names of customers who have moved in order to avoid redirection of mail.
Finding Information
  • May look up names and addresses in phone books, postal code books or apartment directory lists to verify address information. (1)
  • Call a toll free number set up by Canada Post to obtain additional information about new services. (1)
  • Speak with neighbours of customers to find out whether they have moved. (1)
  • Consult co-workers and supervisors and refer to manuals to get information about procedures and policies. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology

This occupation does not use computers.

Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Letter carriers work independently to prepare mail and deliver it. They co-ordinate their work with other letter carriers to share vehicles, co-ordinate drop offs and replace each other as necessary.

Continuous Learning

Letter carriers have an ongoing need to learn. This learning relates particularly to new procedures and services. Learning primarily occurs through on-the-job experience, independent reading and by talking with supervisors and co-workers. They occasionally watch videos or participate in formal courses, on topics such as driving, first aid or public relations.

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