It is a candidate market in the supply chain!

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, attitudes slowed to a crawl. Businesses have been forced to spontaneously adapt to a radically different work environment – ​​migrating to remote work, managing a multitude of supply chain disruptions, working to secure PPE for frontline workers, among many other immense challenges. The setting took a backseat, understandably in this candidate’s market.

When you’re fighting a lot of fires every day, it’s difficult to prioritize hiring – especially when the business climate and consumer demand have suddenly been so unpredictable. Instead of hiring new supply chain employees to handle these immense tasks, many companies stopped all hiring and some hired employees from other functions to handle the immense workload.

It was an all hands on deck situation. But over the course of the long, difficult, and strange 2020, companies changed their hiring models too — embracing interviewing and remote hiring, and learning to onboard new people they hadn’t yet met in person. It turned out that the demand for supply chain experts had not diminished – in fact, the need was greater than ever.

This could be a familiar story. But today we want to give an update on what it looks like from our perspective as recruiters specializing in supply chain management. Every day, we speak to hiring managers and HR representatives from across the supply chain industry—as well as the top candidates looking for jobs. It gives us a pretty good overview of what the supply chain talent market is like.

And right now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that hiring work is slow amid the massive economic disruption caused by the pandemic. That candidates are struggling to find jobs or opportunities at a time when so many people are struggling.

But make no mistake: the supply chain industry is still a candidate market.

What exactly do we mean by that? In an employer market, the number of candidates far exceeds the number of vacancies. Top candidates are in greater demand on the candidate market. They’re often taking multiple job offers, or even offers at once—which doesn’t seem like a big deal until you spend weeks and considerable resources guiding a candidate through your hiring process, only to lose to a competing offer at the last minute.

From experience we have worked with several candidates over the last 6 weeks who have declined a position because they received a competing offer. As a recruiter, it’s always frustrating to see a last-minute hire fall through, but who can blame them?

We had a talent shortage in the supply chain before the pandemic, and we’re still experiencing it. And companies that don’t recognize a candidate’s market are adding risk to their hiring process.

How do you adapt?

We tend to give our customers some important advice. Some of this is useful in any Market, but especially when the top candidates are submitting multiple bids: move fast. Avoid lengthy approval processes, additional interview processes, the hiring manager’s vacation or other internal factors slowing down your recruitment.

The candidate market is not for the faint of heart. Unless you’re ready to pull the trigger on the right candidate, it makes the most sense not to rush into a search. If you put a few weeks off searching, there is no guarantee a candidate will still be on the market when you re-engage.

Supply chain hiring is robust across the industry and candidates of all stripes are in high demand. But for our money, these are some of the particularly hot areas:

  • demand planning. At the beginning of the pandemic, we wrote about how demand forecasting is still the biggest question mark in the supply chain, especially for companies in industries like retail, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals or food production. Consumer behavior is evolving rapidly, and organizations are investing significant resources to improve their demand planning, forecasting, and sales and operations planning capabilities.
  • process improvement. Many manufacturing companies in this market want to invest in capital equipment and process improvements to control costs and improve efficiency. Skilled professionals with Six Sigma, industrial engineering, business process improvement and related disciplines are in high demand – especially in food production and related industries.
  • inventory management. Organizations are looking for candidates who can develop and execute changing inventory strategies, as well as front line workers to keep inventory at the right levels – especially now that many organizations are transitioning from just-in-time to a more resilient inventory approach.

If you hire for these functions especiallyyou need to be aware that this is a recruitment market and adjust your recruitment accordingly.

As always, we have to make the caveat that just because it’s a candidate market doesn’t mean that Everyone Candidates find it easy to get a job. Different geographic areas, disciplines and individual skills have different levels of demand – and there are other reasons why candidates might struggle to find a job (and if you’re one of those candidates, reach out to us!).

But by and large, companies can’t afford to treat their hiring process as if it were still mid-2020.

Candidate market article and permission for publication here provided by Sam White at Argentus. Originally published on Supply Chain Game Changer on September 2nd, 2021.

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