An aging generation of supply chain professionals has spurred the industry to improve their talent acquisition strategies through various initiatives over the past 10 years.
But recruitment is a two-way street: as businesses hone recruitment efforts to target talent, so too must aspiring professionals hone their skills to match recruiters’ needs.
In light of this, Supply Chain Dive spoke with Bob McInturff, president of the Natick, MA-based recruitment firm McInturff & Associates to understand the ongoing crisis despite the industry’s multi-year efforts.
“The jobs are out there for supply chain professionals in the 2-4 and 5-9 year experience range,” McInturff told Supply Chain Dive. “Companies are struggling to find good candidates to fill these positions. I’d certainly consider that a talent crisis.”
For the employer, demand outstrips supply of skilled professionals
“Our business is strong and demand for supply chain professionals is excellent, but I will say the search process has changed,” he said. “Economics and social media are now two of the most significant market factors impacting employers searching for talent, and for our clients looking for work in the industry.”
Economics is a big driver for the availability of talent, and as far as jobs go, the national economy remains strong.
The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows the national unemployment rate of 5% sits just above the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s “natural rate of unemployment” of 4.8%. Meanwhile, the Greater Boston area, where McInturff’s company is based, recorded an even lower unemployment rate of 3.5%.
As a result, demand for solid supply chain professionals is outstripping the number of available candidates.
Aspiring professionals must leverage an ongoing skills gap
Yet, even with the demand so high, McInturff claims a number of clients have lost out on job opportunities due to a skills gap.
“I’ve advised these clients for years and years to go out and get professional certifications, attend conferences, keep up with current trends in the profession, and above all get comfortable with the use of analytics and dashboards,” he said.
Many job interviews are abruptly ended when the candidate cannot respond to a simple question about their use of analytics, or the data represented on their most recent dashboards, he adds.
“Some of my more senior clients are more relationship based and less analytical in how they approach their jobs. That is starting to hurt them in their searches as data begins to rule the day.”
The importance of social media
Social media, networking and even resume search word optimization is playing a very strong role for those looking for new work.
“Personal branding is critical these days, and my clients without a strong LinkedIn presence are at a distinct disadvantage,” said McInturff.
He notes that companies are using web based job search tools like LinkedIn and Indeed to find the talent they need and the process is pretty efficient. “Networking from the employer side is also important these days,” he noted. “If job candidates are marketing themselves properly they can get picked up pretty easily.”
The growth of online recruiting, professional networking, and the reliance on social media have changed the search process. “I get many of the more challenging assignments, where current methods are just not uncovering the right candidates,” said McInturff. “But those are my specialty.”
McInturff’s deep experience and solid reputation with employers and employees alike allows him to be a mentor to many.
“Job candidates need to take a worldview, focus on professional development, and create a personal brand to entice employers to take a look at them,” he stated. “They need to be able to communicate well with other functional areas, and most importantly, know how to influence without authority."
A practitioner turned educator, Rich Weissman has more than 25 years of experience in all facets of supply chain management. He is past president of the Institute for Supply Management –Greater Boston, and the recipient of the Harry J. Graham Memorial Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Association.