How to secure your first supply chain or logistics job
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If you’re preparing to launch a new career in supply chain or logistics, it will help a lot to know how and where to look for a first job, which appointments can get you off the best start, and what qualifications will be most helpful in getting you into the profession.
The supply chain and logistics workforce in Australia will grow to around 161,000 persons by 2021-22, an increase of around 16,000 workers.
Source: Deloitte Report – The Future of Work
The tips and ideas in this article will assist you in making a start, and as it’s logical to begin your supply chain and logistics job search with a sense of direction, we’ll kick off by looking at some good starter jobs and the qualifications that will boost your candidacy for them.
Entry-Level Jobs to Give You an Early Career Boost
“As business models continue to evolve in an increasingly digitised economy, a range of employment opportunities will open up to supply chain professionals with a suitable mix of skills.”
— Professor Booi Kam, RMIT University
There is any number of entry-level supply chain and logistics jobs that will get your foot in the door. However, some of them are better than others for gaining the essential all-around supply chain knowledge that will not only help you identify where you would like to specialize going forward, but will also boost your value to your employer and present opportunities for advancement.
You’ll find some of those quick-career-launching jobs below, along with an overview of the qualifications that will help you secure them.
Supply Chain Analyst
“Geeks are people who love something so much that all the details matter.”
–Marissa Mayer, IT Executive
A position as a Supply Chain Analyst might not sound that attractive if you’re don’t consider yourself to be a computer geek, but before you pass this role off as unsuitable, it will be worth looking at one or two job descriptions from companies advertising the appointment.
You see, very often, the Supply Chain Analyst title is not especially representative of the nature of the actual role —which may be much more general than the title suggests.
Sometimes also referred to as Supply Chain Associate, Supply Chain Assistant, or Supply Chain Specialist, you will find that descriptions of the Supply Chain Analyst’s role vary considerably among employers.
What Does a Supply Chain Analyst Do?
The duties and responsibilities of a Supply Chain Analyst can include:
- Assisting with inventory management
- Aiding in purchasing and inbound logistics management
- Supporting logistics managers by gathering and presenting performance data
- Analyzing supply chain and logistics processes and working on improvement projects
In short, this is a role that can expose you to many aspects of supply chain and logistics management in a short space of time, and give you the opportunity to work closely with functional and cross-functional business teams.
Qualifications for a Supply Chain Analyst Job
Again, qualifications that will help you get a job as a Supply Chain Analyst vary, depending on the hiring company’s perspective on the role. However, your chances of landing this type of position will be improved if you have at least an associate degree in a logistics-related subject. A bachelor’s degree will stand you in even better stead. The same is true of the other starter jobs explored a little further on in this article.
Without a degree, you will need to show that you already have some experience in the supply chain theatre, which if you are a new entrant into the profession, will probably be difficult.
However, there are some supply chain education programs, like our own Supply Chain Secrets, that will provide you with extensive practical knowledge of the industry. For many potential employers, a demonstration of that knowledge will elevate your chances of being hired, even more so if you are up against candidates armed with a degree alone.
Other Good Starter Jobs in Supply Chain/Logistics
“A career is like a house: it’s made of many bricks, and each brick has the same value, because without any one of them, the house would collapse.”
–Andrea Bocelli, Musician, Singer, and Songwriter
We have focused a lot on the Supply Chain Analyst role because it is one of the most common entry-level positions in supply chain and logistics, and because the scope of the job can be so broad. However, there are some other jobs you might consider applying for, which can quickly become the first stepping stone to a long, rewarding, and successful career in the industry. The following examples bear some exploration to see if they might be for you.
Buyer or Purchasing Agent
In this type of role, you can gain valuable experience of the inbound supply chain, and familiarise yourself with supplier relationships and their management. It’s likely that you will also come into contact with supply chain and logistics planning, scheduling, warehouse management, and logistics processes, enabling you to gain an excellent end-to-end understanding of the supply chain.
The beauty of a purchasing role is its focus on the interplay between companies, which is what makes the supply chain work, while some other entry-level jobs have more of an inward-looking perspective.
Inventory management is critical to business success, and a vital element of effective supply chain operations. Any role that exposes you to the dynamics of inventory management, which will inevitably include exposure to warehouse processes, can quickly give you the experience to move upwards into a more senior appointment, or sideways into a different aspect of supply chain management.
A job in transportation planning will see you working closely with logistics managers and, if you work for a logistics provider, with warehouse staff and truck drivers. You will learn much about transport legislation and compliance—and about customer service too.
Transport and logistics managers often begin their careers as planners, and it’s a position that you may be able to find your way into even without a degree, although it will help if you invest in some vocational education. In some countries, you can study for a vocational certification that requires no previous logistics experience.
In the United Kingdom, for example, the Certificate of Professional Competence in Road Transport Operations (CPC) is highly valued among enterprises that run in-house transportation fleets.
Possession of a CPC will undoubtedly improve your chances of landing a transportation planning job, and it only takes a few months of study or even less, along with passing a couple of exams, to attain one. If you are anywhere other than the UK, it’s worth checking in your country as to whether similar types of certification exist.
How (and Where) to Look for a Supply Chain/Logistics Job
Global demand for supply chain professionals exceeds supply by six to one.
Source: APICS – The Hunt for Supply Chain Talent Continues
So now you have a few ideas for entry-level supply chain and logistics jobs that you might apply for, the next thing is to know where to look for them. Fortunately, job hunting in any industry has never been more convenient than it is today, with a wealth of online and offline resources to draw on.
You also have the advantage of a market just crying out for new talent and in which there is a general shortage of people with the right skills and qualities to match the needs of modern supply chain operations.
That might be especially good news if you would like a job close to your home, because unless you live in the outback somewhere, there are likely to be several companies looking for supply chain talent at any given time.
Online Job Hunting
There are more than 20 million open jobs listed on LinkedIn.
Source: LinkedIn “About Us” page
You could start your search by checking job ads in your local newspapers, some of which may have their own online ads pages. Similarly, most of the leading online job boards, like Monster, Indeed, and Glassdoor allow you to search for jobs in your locality or region.
LinkedIn too is an essential resource for finding jobs close to home, and like the careers sites previously mentioned, has thousands of supply chain and logistics appointments advertised in locations all over the world.
The added advantage of LinkedIn is that you can also network with your connections on the site, perhaps asking them to keep a lookout for positions available that might not be advertised online. You never know, some of your contacts may even offer to recommend you to potential employers in their LinkedIn contact network.
The Agency Approach
By the year 2020, 40% of the average business’s workforce will be made up of contingent workers, including temp staffing employees.
Source: HR Times
If you prefer to test the waters in the supply chain and logistics professions before you commit to one job and one employer, you could approach a recruitment agency or two, to see if they can find you a temporary position.
Indeed, some people prefer to work as temps initially, perhaps experiencing several different supply chain positions before settling down to work for one particular employer.
You could even find a temporary employer offering you a permanent position if you prove to be a great fit with the company’s requirements and culture.
Other Paths to the Supply Chain Profession
More than 70 percent of people land jobs through networking.
Source: U.S. News article – Don’t Believe These 8 Job Search Myths.
Online job sites, social media, and recruitment agencies are not the only sources of starter jobs in supply chain and logistics. If you are at college or university, you might have access to recruiters through events or internal programs that help students find employment.
You could also attend some industry conferences or seminars to network with other delegates and make it known you are seeking opportunities. They don’t necessarily have to be supply chain events either. Most industries rely on supply chains, and professional gatherings often have part of the schedule devoted to SCM and logistics management.
Already Working? You’re More than Halfway There
As a final point to think about, if you are currently employed by a company that supplies products or services, but are not in a supply chain job, you could affect a career change without even looking for a new employer.
Remember, a global talent shortage exists in the supply chain and logistics field, so your company might welcome your willingness to change focus, and of course, your existing employer will already know if you have the right stuff to be a logistician or a supply chain management professional.
Whatever your circumstances, whether you are already employed or not, the supply chain awaits. If you have the will and the skill to make it your career of choice, you will never have a dull moment as a supply chain or logistics specialist—and you’ll be joining a profession that only grows more exciting as time goes by.