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How to generate Supply Chain talent

Supply Chain is a challenging and rewarding career path for aspiring professionals, requiring strategic thinking, an overarching of an organisation and its stakeholders and a desire to continuously improve and streamline a business’ supply chain.

As the industry has flourished over the past 10 years, experiencing a period of rapid change and fast growth, the skills gap has become ever more prominent. Employers find there is a lack of qualified professionals drawn to the field to fulfil the considerable demand for Supply Chain resource.

What can be done to generate a sustainable pipeline of Supply Chain talent? Neil Morgan, Associate Director of Supply Chain Recruitment at Robert Walters, shares five strategies to overcome the talent shortage and consolidate Supply Chain as a recognised career path.

Inform and engage

“Businesses in the industry need to be more proactive about communicating the benefits of supply chain careers in order to alleviate the current talent shortage. For example, the profession can offer high progression potential and lucrative salaries without needing to possess a university degree in the subject.”

“Partnering with universities is an effective way to directly target your desired pool of candidates. With supply chains expanding in scope, candidates have multiple choices on the table which can progress to management or director level roles. Start the conversation early to secure your supply chain leaders of the future.”

Articulate the skillset you require

“Identifying the skills profile you’re looking for can open up your talent pool, allowing you to reach high potential candidates that you wouldn’t have otherwise considered in your current recruitment strategy.”

“As well as previous experience and supply chain qualifications, it’s important to identify the soft-skills required for the career, such as analytical skills and the ability to communicate effectively with a variety of stakeholders, from external suppliers to senior management. Supply chain professionals need to spot critical trends and communicate these to ensure your supply chain can align to drive changes or solve problems.”

Over 20% of UK professionals would be prepared to relocate for a career opportunity – widening your search geographically also increases your likelihood of securing high-calibre candidates.

“Due to the advancements in Big Data, individuals with mathematic, technology or data-driven backgrounds would also be beneficial to your organisation, working effectively with technologies to improve processes within a supply chain.”

“Taking a broader approach to candidate profiling could encourage you to look further afield to uncover the best talent, rather than confining your search to solely industry-specific skills – these can be taught to candidates who possess a strong potential to progress and add value to your business.”

Training and multiskilling

“To attract experienced supply chain professionals, emphasising your opportunities for professional development, training and multiskilling programmes will be essential to attract existing industry talent. Supply chain professionals will choose an employer with a clear route to management and director-level positions – show candidates how you can support them through their career.”

“Investing more resources in training is also an effective long-term strategy to help to bridge skills gaps by ensuring you have a strong, multi-skilled workforce that can progress to fill leadership positions across the broad scope of the field.”

Build the industry network

“Professional associations and events are a great way for businesses to come together as an industry to make a wider impact on the candidate market. Collaborating with competitors may seem like a radical move with such fierce competition for quality supply chain professionals, but a collective effort to market career opportunities will generate a pipeline of talent across the industry, as well identifying skills and diversity gaps to inform your recruitment strategy, target the skillsets you require, and adapt your training programmes going forward.”

Take a multi-channel approach

“Part of the battle when it comes to hiring is knowing where supply chain candidates are looking for jobs. Diversify your recruitment strategy – posting on job boards, utilising staff recommendations and advertising on social media are just some of the ways you strengthen your attraction strategy and increase brand awareness. At Robert Walters, we offer bespoke, branded advertising campaigns to our clients which see a ten-fold increase in applications to unbranded adverts – candidates are more likely to apply for a business they can identify with and be bought into the business’ vision.

“Similarly, according to Robert Walters’ research over 20% of UK professionals would be prepared to relocate for a career opportunity – widening your search geographically also increases your likelihood of securing high-calibre candidates.”


With more businesses turning to overseas skilled professionals to alleviate the Supply Chain shortage, it’s clear the UK industry needs to take a long-term view to strengthen the talent pool at home. Building on the industry’s profile, engaging early and articulating the rewards of the career are key steps to deliver the next generation of UK Supply Chain leaders.

For more information about hiring Supply Chain professionals, please contact Neil Morgan at neil.morgan@robertwalters.com for more information.

 

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