Other Voices: 7 Creative Ways to Find Supply Chain Talent

To keep up with hiring demands in today’s labor market, it’s time to move beyond job postings

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Editors note: I first met Rodney Apple in 2015, when I moderated a round table on challenges in the supply chain work force at the APICS conference in Las Vegas. At the time, recruiting, training and retaining supply chain talent was one of the most talked about topics at supply chain conferences. Since then, I think it’s safe to say the issue has only gained in importance. This is the second of ten columns by Apple that we’ll publish on SCMR.com over the next three weeks. As always, you can feel free to email me with your thoughts at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, Supply Chain Management Review. 


If your primary recruiting strategy is “posting and praying”, you are basically fishing from a freshwater pond versus the ocean. There’s a sea of top performers that are content in their current roles and are rarely surfing the job boards, so if you think you’re going to catch these passive candidates through a job advertisement, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

To keep up with hiring demands in a tightening labor market, you’ll need to expand your candidate sourcing tactics beyond job postings in order to discover and land the strongest, most qualified individuals.

Here are a few candidate sourcing channels we recommend that can improve your ability to attract and recruit top supply chain talent:

Tap into Supply Chain Associations
Supply chain associations, such as APICS, CSCMP, ISM or MHI, can be a goldmine for recruiting supply chain talent. Consider sponsoring your local chapter meetings and sending key members of your supply chain organization to national or global conferences to scout talent. Most associations have online directories to help facilitate networking among members, providing another channel you can explore to find supply chain talent.

Networking with supply chain association members can help build awareness of your company while expanding your personal network. You never know when a new connection could be looking for a new career opportunity!

Develop an Employee Referral Program
Candidate referrals are typically the top source for hires in most companies. A proven way to improve the quality and quantity of your applicant flow is to create an employee referral program.

To ensure participation across your supply chain organization, the referral program should be driven by your supply chain recruiter and HR partner, and sponsored by your most senior supply chain executive. While you can get by with a manual process to run your employee referral program, it’s best to implement an automated system to drive better results and track the source of referrals and hires, such as JobVite or Jobcast. Providing incentives such as cash or a vacation package can help drive better results as well.

Create Partnerships with the Right Supply Chain Universities
Partner with the right universities that have the type of supply chain degree programs that align best with your entry-level job requirements, company values and culture. Establish rapport with potential new hires by having members of your team attend university job fairs. Develop relationships beyond the staff working in the university’s career center, such as with professors that teach supply chain management courses, as they will know who the top students are in each class.

Be sure to post your jobs with each university and outline the benefits of working for your organization. Once you start hiring entry-level candidates from your targeted universities, have these employees go back to their alma mater to help recruit supply chain students.

In addition, have your supply chain recruiters and employees proactively connect with students at your target universities early on versus waiting until they’re close to graduation. Nurture these relationships so when students start thinking about employers to target, your company is at or towards the very top of their wish list. These are proven tactics smart employers use to recruit top supply chain students year after year into their organizations.

Mine Your Internal Database
When we post our supply chain job openings, not every applicant is the right fit for that opening at the time. However, it’s very common that we recruit and place candidates that aren’t a fit for the role they initially apply to with future searches that we work on.

A best practice is to have your supply chain recruiter proactively data mine your resume database and segment candidates into a list or perhaps tag them by keyword, assuming your applicant tracking system (ATS) has these types of features. For example, if you’re commonly recruiting for Warehouse Supervisors in a certain city, such as Raleigh, NC, add these applicants into a list or tag them. That way, when you have your next Warehouse Supervisor vacancy, you already have a list of candidates you can reach out to quickly.

Use Paid Recruiting Tools
Consider paying for additional tools, like LinkedIn Recruiter, to help expand your network for sourcing supply chain talent. This tool isn’t cheap, but it provides access to all LinkedIn members, comes with a ton of candidate search filters that enable you to quickly identify candidates that align with your job criteria, and allows for direct messaging via InMail to help connect with the passive candidate market. Considering using other tools with rich databases of contacts such as Zoominfo.com and Data.com, for example.

Post on Specialized, Niche Job Boards vs Generalist Boards
Job boards typically rank low on most companies list of sources for attracting supply chain talent. With that said, we still encourage you to post your positions as sometimes you can get lucky, plus you’re building your resume database with candidates that you may be able to hire in the future.

We recommend that you post on niche job boards that cater to supply chain professionals such as supplychainjobs.com or jobsinlogistics.com versus the generalist job boards where your job listing can drown in a giant ocean of other jobs. Job boards that focus within the supply chain discipline drive more relevant applicants who have experience or interest in your specific focus area.

Engage with a Supply Chain Recruiter
If you’re a small or mid sized company that doesn’t have the hiring volume to support hiring a full-time recruiter, or if you’re struggling to fill a key position and it’s causing pain in your business, you should consider engaging a supply chain recruiter.

Be sure to conduct research, both through your network and online, to identify the right supply chain recruiting firm, as not all recruiters are equal. Many specialize by industry, function, job level and geographic area while some firms, like ours, recruit across the end-to-end supply chain discipline and most major industries.

Check out our infographic below that summarizes seven creative ways to find supply chain talent.

Rodney L. Apple is the managing partner of SCM Talent Group, a supply chain recruiting agency. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  


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Article Topics

Recruitment · Rodney Apple · Talent Shortage · · All Topics
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