Supply Chain Careers Under the New Normal
Leigh Anderson, managing director of Bis Henderson Recruitment, considers ways supply chain professionals can maximise their potential for job opportunities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jobs are going almost daily, from retail assistants to aero-engineers, and inevitably including a good few logistics and supply chain staff. But all is not necessarily doom and gloom, as there are some outstanding vacancies out there. Fortunately, crises always create opportunities, and this one is no exception as organisations strive to transform themselves.
Some of the sectors actively looking to enhance their logistics capabilities are obvious: supermarkets, pharmaceuticals, manufacturers of PPE, and food home delivery. More generally, retail logistics has pivoted across the board towards forms of eCommerce, from pure home delivery to BOPIS/BORIS (Buy Online, Pick-up/Return In-store). Many businesses are creating eCommerce platforms, as are the carriers and 3PLs that serve them. Manufacturers too are creating Direct to Consumer channels – again, often building an infrastructure from scratch. All are looking at innovative supply chain solutions to repair their cost base.
Other opportunities are a little less obvious. Remote medical services, with consultations over a video link, require ultra-reliable and precisely timed delivery and pick up of medicines, equipment, blood samples and so on. Greatly increased hygiene requirements in offices and workplaces require extensive logistics support. The online fitness boom is creating demand for delivery, maintenance, and recovery of equipment – another logistics task. E-scooters could become a whole new industry.
These may seem unfamiliar, but the underlying infrastructure is still one of suppliers, warehouses, vehicles, drivers and other staff, and increasingly, innovative automation and IT. Many more logistics skills, and ways of seeing a situation, are transferrable than at first meets the eye.
At Bis Henderson we have many clients with an urgent need to enhance their logistics competencies. Not just hard skills in automation or IT, but also softer skills in leadership, teamwork and collaboration – both internally and externally – and at the interfaces between people and the systems and machines. Attributes particularly sought by our clients at present include the ability to adapt rapidly to volume fluctuations, the COVID-safe management of labour-intensive environments, automation experience, deep commitment to customer service, and a combination of an entrepreneurial spirit with ‘traditional logistics pragmatism’.
For many of our candidates, who have progressed their careers by internal promotion, often all the way from the shop floor, this may be their first rigorous selection process since leaving school or university. The recruitment process has changed quite considerably.
Many larger companies, or their recruitment advisors, have to some extent automated their initial trawl of applications, using computers to search for key phrases and attributes. There are ways of constructing and presenting a CV – a sort of Search Engine Optimisation – that we can share with candidates.
Often now, at least preliminary interviews are conducted by video. Again, we can explain the do’s and don’ts, from the technology to the presentation.
More generally, we advise candidates to build their personal ‘brand’ – the CV, their profile on LinkedIn etc. Collect and curate ‘evidence’ – pieces in the company newsletter/website or contributions to trade and professional journals or conference proceedings.
Engage where you can in online discussions. This helps build your network, and networking is as important as ever. Cultivate new contacts and reconnect with useful existing contacts.
Constantly evaluate your skills, in abstract and against the specific job description. You may find for example that you have relevant experience, but you don’t use the same terminology as the recruiting company.
Focus on companies in emerging and growth sectors, but be aware that just because a business may have had negative publicity, perhaps because of job losses, it is not necessarily doomed – it may be re-focussing on a tighter mission that you can happily get on board with.
Our final advice is to use time wisely and safeguard your health. Just thinking about a job move, is stressful – much more so if you fear your current employment may be under threat. If stress and anxiety is getting a hold, seek early help – social and medical. Bis Henderson Recruitment can also help – we can advise and guide you, so that you have the confidence that you are displaying your best professional and personal self to a potential new employer. There are many new and exciting opportunities out there and now is the time to act.
One of the biggest challenges when job hunting is knowing where to start, and how to run your search as a project. To help, Bis Henderson has produced a guide for logistics specialists: How To Run A Structured Job Search Programme for Supply Chain & Logistics professionals.