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top tips for attracting supply chain talent

Top Tips For Attracting And Retaining Supply Chain talent

Finding and hiring supply chain talent is crucial for the success of many companies. You can produce the best goods and offer incredible service, but if any link in the supply chain talent pool is missing, those goods won’t get out the door and service will suffer. Supply chain managers, and especially supply chain executives, are the hidden heroes of the manufacturing world, often preventing problems and ensuring the smooth movement of goods from raw materials to warehouse and distribution.

The world of supply chain logistics and personnel is largely a hidden one despite propelling $48 billion in freight daily and employing six million people. Among those six million are up and coming executives, those who seek better opportunities. If your company offers such opportunities, then finding supply chain talent and attracting them to your company is important.

Attracting Supply Chain Talent: What Do Managers and Executives Want?

To find supply chain talent and attract them to your company, you must offer talent what they are looking for in their work environment, salary and benefits.

Millennials, the demographic born from 1980 to 1996 are now entering the management level at many organizations. These millennials seek different employment benefits than their Generation X and Baby Boomer counterparts. A Gallup poll indicates Millennials want good jobs to be sure, but they also want jobs that they feel engaged in and that offer benefits that help keep them fit, a sense of community, and a workplace that provides a sense of well-being.

Compared to Gen Xers, who seek advancement opportunities and strong retirement packages, millennials need a different benefit package to attract and keep them working in supply chain executive jobs.

As you consider how to find supply chain talent, take into account the current job title, salary and benefits packages your company offers. Adjustments may make it more appealing to executives and rising stars you wish to attract from other companies. It’s all about using the right lure to catch the right fish, or having a desirable salary and benefits package to “catch” the right supply chain executives.

Are You Promoting Your Workplace?

what your candidates find about your workplace speaks volumes

Another bit of preparatory work you may wish to tackle before recruiting new talent into open supply chain jobs is branding and promoting your workplace as a desirable environment. Companies often forget potential candidates will search information about the workplaces they’re considering just as companies search for information online about candidates. What candidates find about your workplace speaks volumes.

Companies with a positive corporate culture, satisfied workers, and opportunities for growth and advancement should make an effort to cultivate a positive image online. Social media, branding and reputation management services may be needed to ensure candidates see what a great place your company is to work.

Finding Supply Chain Candidates

Finding supply chain candidates is a five-step process that begins internally before reaching out into the world for talent.

  1. Identifying and Documenting the Position

It’s important to build a written job description for any position you are hiring for and update it before you begin the recruitment process. A written job description includes:

  • The title
  • Who the position reports to
  • Where it fits into the organization
  • The skills, degree or education requirement
  • Other background required for the job

This information should be reviewed and updated annually and kept on file with both the department manager and HR. Having a written job description takes much of the guesswork out of the hiring process. You’ll be able to quickly and easily identify whether a position is entry level or experienced, for example, and can then determine whether recruiting on your own is feasible or whether you need a supply chain recruitment specialist by your side.

  1. Advertising Internally

Consider advertising open supply chain positions within your company first to promote from within the organization. Promoting people from your organization offers several benefits:

  • First, it gives people a sense the company values hard work and rewards it with promotions.
  • Second, it encourages people to think of your company as providing a career instead of a job, which may reduce turnover.
  • Third, it reduces onboarding time, since you can promote into the executive suite from within your company and hire lower-level workers to fill the vacancies left by promoting someone from within.
  1. Networking With Other Organizations

supply chain recruiters have have networks to help you find top talent for your company

Networking and recruiting are ongoing processes. You should always be networking and connecting with others to find talented supply chain personnel even when you do not have a vacancy. This activity ensures when you do have an opening, you’ll already have people in your network who may be interested and available. Supply chain organizations, alumni groups, local business groups and other business networking organizations both online and locally provide excellent places to find your next supply chain talent. If you find your networking is coming up short, turning to a specialized supply chain recruiter is a great next step. Supply chain recruiters have huge networks to help you find top talent for your company.

  1. Seeking University Partnerships

Another often-unexplored possibility is a partnership with your local university or college business department. Colleges and universities like to help graduates and alumni with placement, and having a connection and partnership with local businesses seeking supply chain talent is a great way for them to help their graduates find employment. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that can help you find supply chain talent.

  1. Thinking Keywords

Whether you’re working with a supply chain recruiting firm or placing advertisements on your own, think keywords, those phrases people search for when they turn to the internet for information. Almost every job site, recruiting firm and employment database uses keyword phrases to match candidate resumes with open positions. Scour your job placement advertisements to ensure they hit the top potentially searched phrases as quickly as possible. Using the correct terminology can make all the difference and a supply chain consulting company can help you choose the proper language to find the right talent for your open position.

Finding Supply Chain Executives Who Fit Your Company

Making sure potential candidates are a great fit for your organization starts with a written job description and an honest appraisal of your corporate culture. There are several techniques beyond scanning resumes that can help you ensure a candidate is a good fit for the job.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions yield detailed answers, not a yes/no response. Listening to the response from open-ended questions can provide important insights. When listening to the responses to open-ended questions, the tone and style of the response may indicate even more of the candidate’s fit than the answer itself.

A fast-paced corporate culture may be a great fit for an aggressive, dominant personality, while someone who is reserved and on the quiet side may fit well with a traditional corporate culture. Open-ended questions can help you get to the heart of someone’s personality more quickly than simply scanning resumes.

a supply chain recruiter saves you time

Many companies can struggle to ask the right questions. A supply chain recruiter will question talent prior to them meeting with your company to ensure they are a good match for you. This saves you the time of creating the perfect questions.

Introduce Them to the Team

Bring potential supply chain executives into the business and let them meet and mingle with the teams they’ll be working with and managing. Watch how they interact with others and feel the pulse of the workplace to see how well they will fit in with the group. After the interview is over, take the teams aside and ask for their feedback on the candidate. Typically, teams are one of the best judges of how well an executive will fit into the organization. They can sense if someone will fit in well or not.

Listen for Hints

Ask for examples of how they would solve potential supply chain and logistics problems in your company. Listen to their answers. Within these answers are hints of how well they will fit in with your company. Look for approaches that are analogous in style to the approaches of your current senior leadership. Someone who mirrors such an approach is more likely to fit in and less likely to ruffle feathers.

Look for an Understanding of Your Company

Also within the answers to the open-ended questions and during discussions with candidates will be an assessment of how well a candidate has studied and understood your company. Candidates should take time to research potential workplaces and get to know them through readily available public information.

Are They Consistent?

A candidate’s resume relates more than a work history. It also demonstrates consistency or lack thereof. Look for someone who remains in one position for one or more years, without unexplained gaps in their work history.

These tips offer a simplistic way of measuring a candidate’s fit with your company. The ultimate test is watching candidates interact with your staff. During a tour of the company, notice how the candidate greets others, how they mingle and interact with teams. You’ll get a gut sense of how well they fit in with your company.

How to Find Supply Chain Candidates: What Are Candidates Looking For?

As you seek top talent for your company, top talent is also seeking great companies to work for, and you want to be at the top of their list, too. But what you think may attract the best and brightest supply chain executives may be different than what they want.

Yes, a good salary is important. It is also important to offer a comprehensive benefits plan that includes medical coverage and possibly dental and vision coverage, retirement savings plans and other perks.

In addition to these benefits, paid time off, including vacation time, sick time and personal days, are important. Offering a flexible work environment where people can adjust their hours to take time off to care for sick family members, generous parental leave policies, and work-from-home policies are also important.

Not every job may fit these categories — a supervisor may be unable to work from home since their job requires them to be on site at the warehouse every day. But when jobs do lend themselves to more flexible working arrangements, companies that allow talent the latitude to work from home get higher marks.

Other items that attract top talent include the following.

Reduce Bureaucracy

Leaders in the supply chain discipline tend to be self-motivated, hard-working people. They dislike navigating complex bureaucracies and complicated hierarchies within companies. A streamlined work environment that makes it easy to get your job done is important to top talent.

Have Room for Advancement

Promoting from within and offering a clear pathway to leadership is another way to attract the best supply chain talent. When people view their jobs as a career rather than a paycheck, they are more likely to become invested in the company’s success. Turnover lowers, and the work environment improves. Rewarding people through promotions, lateral moves, and other benefits sends a strong signal to potential candidates that the company is a great place to work.

Education Benefits

Companies that value their people also believe in advanced and continuing education. Education benefits may include professional development credits, which can be applied toward certificate courses, conferences or other advanced training opportunities, or full reimbursement for job-related post-graduate degrees.

Offer a Good Safety Record

a good safety record is attactive

For companies in the distribution or manufacturing side of the supply chain, a good safety record is also attractive. It tells candidates you care about their well-being.

Take Care of the People You Employ

Lastly, companies that demonstrate concern for talent well-being tend to earn high marks among workers and attract great talent. Google, for example, gives the surviving spouse of an employee who dies 50 percent of the employee’s salary for up to 10 years after their death. While this may seem like an extraordinarily generous move, it engenders deep loyalty among Google workers and gives them peace of mind about what may happen to their surviving spouse should anything happen to them.

Other companies such as Apple and Netflix invest back in their talent by giving stock perks as gifts and tokens of appreciation. People who feel like their companies care about them will rave about their work environment to others.

When you combine the best of these attributes with a generous benefits package, candidates will come to you. You won’t have to work as hard to recruit top talent. It’s an effort that pays off in the long run with a better workforce, less turnover, and easier recruiting.

Work With a Professional Recruitment Service

Finding top supply chain talent isn’t easy. In the hidden environment of supply chain employment, top people are always in demand. Finding someone who not only knows how to do their job well but also has their eye on a long-term career and fits in well with your company is a difficult job.

That’s where a professional supply chain talent recruiter comes into the picture. Because supply chain talent companies constantly talk to potential candidates, they know who is available for work. They get to know candidates and understand nuances of their personalities and how they might fit into an organization. They can more readily match candidates to job openings and save you the time and effort of finding executives for supply chain management positions.

With supply chain management executive jobs, it’s imperative top talent knows the discipline as well as their job duties. You don’t want to spend valuable time with extensive onboarding. You need someone who’s quick to learn and grasps the nuances of your business from day one.

Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters can help you find and match top supply chain talent to open positions. We work nationwide to find great people for your executive-level openings. Please contact us today for more information about our supply chain recruitment services.

Don Jacobson
Don Jacobson
Don Jacobson was born and raised in New York City, and graduated with a B.A. degree in Management from the City University of New York. For 10 years, Don managed Operations and Supply Chain departments for consumer products companies. He then turned his attention to supply chain recruiting and for the past 27 years, has specialized in recruiting and placing supply chain executives throughout North America. Don is certified by the National Association of Personnel Consultants. He was a Partner at Hunt Ltd., and more recently was the Founder and Managing Partner of LogiPros LLC, a logistics recruiting firm. Don is a regular contributor of topical human resource articles for DC Velocity magazine, the CSCMP Supply Chain Comment, and The WERCSheet, published by the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC). He is Past President of the NY/NJ/CT chapter of WERC

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