Uncover the Hidden Gems

It’s possible to find supply chain talent in uncommon places if you know where to look.

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With an increase in retirees amongst baby boomers and a strong interest in entrepreneurism seen in millennials, it can be difficult to secure top talent for your supply chain. The traditional channels, such as job postings, online sites and tradeshows are still viable options; but they're not necessarily the best or most efficient.

Cater to their Specific Career Path

Showing interest in the ongoing career development of your supply chain employees is helpful in a variety of ways. First, it lets you nurture the specific skills that you're looking for in your full-time staff. It also lets you monitor an employee's performance over the course of time, which could help you make the decision regarding promotions, pay raises or other bonuses.

You can also designate one of your current employees as a mentor. This is especially helpful if your mentor is looking to retire soon, as they can teach their replacements how to do the job. Some even partner with local community colleges and educational institutions to provide even more training and education.

Embrace the Evolving Workforce

The workforce within the supply chain is also evolving. More companies are becoming involved in the recruiting scene, either through a third-party staffing agency or by targeting potential employees when they're still in high school. This connects you with top supply chain talent as early as possible while providing recent graduates with an instant means of income.

You'll also want to target recruits who already have the right skill sets in place. There are many cross-functional skills, such as expertise in interpersonal communications, team leadership, supervision and human resources, which are highly useful when applied to the supply chain. Apart from bolstering warehouse safety, this will also minimize the initial training and orientation phases of your new hires.

The increased automation and technology in today's supply chain calls for workers who are familiar with computer software. Those who are able to diagnose basic problems with hardware or software systems are extremely desirable in today's workforce, but even those with a rudimentary interest in the field can make a comfortable living through supply chain management. 

Be on the lookout for generational shift changes. Baby boomers went from making calculations and measurements with hand tools to using highly sophisticated computer software. Millennials are seeing a greater emphasis on mobile communications, remote connectivity and scheduling flexibility. Whereas are grandparents regularly worked more than 40 hours per week, many of today's millennials want to spend as little time in the office or factory as possible.

Use Proven Hiring Methods

It's important to use the correct strategies when trying to recruit and hire professionals for your supply chain. Nearly any of the traditional channels can also be used, but some are bound to be more successful than others. There are also some brand new methods that are unique to millennial workers or the supply chain in general. Think outside the box. Consider recruiting on military bases, or working with veterans. Many of our past and present service members have the skillset necessary for the supply chain. "Supply chain is the most logical fit for veterans as they transition out of the military because the Department of Defense is the largest Supply Chain provider in the world. Almost every role in the military has some aspect of supply chain theory involved; whether a service member is helping to move people, product, or parts from one location to another, they are working almost daily to support the overall mission of their military units,” says Amanda Veinott, a military talent expert at Miligistix.  What companies need to realize though, is that not all veterans will realize how great a fit supply chain jobs are.

 “Unfortunately, veterans remain under-educated about all the various job opportunities within the Supply Chain industry. However, companies have an opportunity to educate service members and veterans about the depth and breadth of roles within the industry and in doing so open up their talent pipelines to a renewable talent source called the United States Military. Each year, the military transitions approximately two hundred thousand service members, which creates a highly renewable and highly trained talent pool from which the industry can recruit." By taking the time to educate former military personnel about the benefits of working in the supply chain as they transition back to civilian life, both veterans and supply chain companies can benefit. Veterans will have an opportunity to work in a thriving field, and supply chain executives can fill open positions.

Another option managers have is to look at your current staff when trying to fill the ranks of your supply chain. Offering executive-level promotions or reassignments to your current staff might be easier than locating new talent to fill that role, and you can always find an entry-level employee to fill any newly created vacancies.

Utilize the Internet, too. More professionals are now using online job sites and classified ads to find new opportunities. You can maximize your online exposure by reposting ads on social media, sending email blasts to clients and by having your current employees share posts. Searching for specific candidates according to skills, years of experience or location is another helpful option.  

Women in the Supply Chain

Women are playing greater roles in today's supply chain workforce. Although women tended to shy away from such roles in the past, many are bucking tradition to start their own successful careers. Many are being brought into the industry through college career fairs and interviews.

By providing guided tours of your factory or warehouse to prospective talent, you can help boost their morale and even dispel any myths. Many think that heavy lifting is a requirement at all factories and production plants, but many feature fully automated equipment that takes care of such arduous tasks.

Scheduling flexibility is another perk of today's supply chain workforce. Many employers will be more than happy to accommodate women or men who need to drop kids off at school or pick them up at the end of the day.

How to Find Millennials

Sourcing and securing millennial talent for your supply chain can be challenging. The wide variety of interests amongst younger workers as well as their highly independent nature can make it tough to even locate prospects in the first place.

To make the process easier, try thinking outside the box. Search for millennial employees and potential supply chain experts at military career fairs, airline schools, conferences and other community training programs. For greater access to young and talented workers, you might consider investing in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program.

Make sure to offer hands-on training to your new recruits, too. This is a straightforward and effective way to address the skills gap that comes with many new hires in the field. Classes like this can also be used to supplement their current traits and to cultivate new ones that are specific to their part in the supply chain.

Prioritizing Your Supply Chain

Since the supply chain is so crucial to the efficiency of your business, it's important that you prioritize these processes as much as possible. It can be difficult to secure the necessary talent in the first place, but those who know where to look can start filling their ranks with qualified millennials, women and employees of all types.   

Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science and supply chain writer and blogger. She can be reached through her website, Schooled By Science.