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The Essential Guide to Finding and Hiring the Right Supply Chain Manager for Your Business

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Supply chain management is an in-demand industry, and that demand is only likely to grow over the next decade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a CAGR of 28% through 2031, which translates to more than 54,000 jobs added to the sector.

This is good news for logistics professionals, translating to ample job opportunities for those who have the knowledge and experience to manage supply chains. For companies that hire supply chain talent, however, it’s a more troublesome figure. There is already a shortage of qualified candidates, for one thing. As early as 2017 there were an estimated six job openings for every new supply chain graduate, with up to 33% of the current workforce at or near retirement age. In a 2020 survey of supply chain professionals, 64% reported a talent shortage in their organization.

In the face of these industry trends, it’s more important than ever before for companies to streamline and optimize their hiring process if they want to hire workers who can solve their supply chain process challenges. This post will highlight strategies and best practices for effective supply chain recruitment in your company.

Overview of the supply chain manager role

A supply chain manager plans and coordinates all of the logistics involved in the manufacturing and distribution of goods across the entire product life cycle. This includes everything from choosing suppliers and the procurement and management of materials to the delivery of finished products to customers, and all of the steps in between.

In some cases, an organization may hire a single person who takes leadership over the entire supply chain. Larger companies, or those with more complex logistics management needs, may have multiple leadership roles on their supply chain team. Some common careers in supply chain management include:

  • Director of Operations – This role oversees the entire supply chain of a company, typically with a focus on the manufacturing process. Their typical duties include handling purchasing of raw materials, coordination of suppliers, allocation of resources, inventory management, and the selection of vendors and distribution of the finished products to them.
  • Director of Procurement – These professionals oversee the purchasing of materials and supplies for an organization, ensuring the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the procurement process. This often includes choosing and communicating with suppliers, establishing the company’s purchasing policy, managing the purchasing budget, and managing the overall procurement process.
  • Director of Distribution – Also known as a Logistics Manager or Transportation Manager, this role oversees the downstream end of an organization’s supply chain. Typical responsibilities include choosing and communicating with vendors, setting delivery schedules, overseeing the transportation of goods, and managing the logistics operation and staff.
  • Demand Planning Manager – These professionals take charge of the forecasting process to anticipate business needs and plan production to meet the company’s objectives. They work closely with the marketing and sales departments to gather data on the company’s likely future needs, analyzing and utilizing this data to predict customer demand and ensure production meets it.
  • Sourcing Manager – This position is similar to a Director of Procurement but with a narrower focus on identifying and choosing the right suppliers based on the company’s budget and business needs.
  • Plant Manager – These individuals oversee the day-to-day operations of manufacturing and production plants. They coordinate closely with demand planners and both upstream and downstream supply chain managers to ensure the production of goods aligns with the demand for them.
  • Warehouse Manager – This role is focused primarily on inventory management. They oversee the delivery of goods to a storage warehouse, their storage in the facility, and their eventual distribution to end users.

Each of these positions will have its own unique set of job responsibilities and key requirements for applicants. What they all have in common, though, is an ability to improve the performance of the organization’s supply chain processes.

Where to find supply chain managers

There are a variety of potential sources for supply chain management candidates. Which one is best for a given company will depend on their industry, the specific role, and the metrics they use to determine if a candidate is a good fit. Let’s take a look at the most common places businesses turn to when they need supply chain talent.

Job boards

Online job boards are often the first stop for professionals who are looking for a new job. Posting a listing for your role on these sites is one way to reach these active job seekers. All-purpose job marketplaces like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn will get your job posting seen by the highest number of potential candidates. That can also be their main downside, though. Since they’re used by professionals of all experience levels across industries, you may need to sift through many low-quality applications to find people who are a good fit.

Another option is to post your job on industry-specific job boards. These have fewer total job seekers than larger, broader sites, but a higher percentage of that talent will have the skills and experience needed for supply chain professionals. The top supply chain job boards include:

  • ASCM Job Board – Run by the Association for Supply Chain Management, the largest supply chain organization in the world, this job board is an ideal way to connect with global supply chain professionals.
  • SCMDOJO – Primarily an educational resource for supply chain workers, the SCMDOJO job board is known for posting jobs not available on sites like LinkedIn, making it a popular stop for professionals seeking a new role.
  • JobsinLogistics – The first online employment site dedicated solely to logistics careers, JobsInLogistics remains the largest listing of logistics, transportation, warehousing, and similar supply chain jobs.

Supply chain recruiters

Recruiting agencies focus exclusively on helping companies find and hire the best talent for their opportunities. A recruiter can be particularly valuable for filling executive and other high-level supply chain roles since their network often includes passive as well as active job seekers. Recruiters often engage in targeted outreach to candidates, including professionals who are currently employed but open to new opportunities. Many recruiters focus on a specific geographic region, as well as a specific industry, so it’s smart to research which recruiters are most active in your area if you think you need their services.

Employee referrals

Job seekers are often told to activate their networks when they’re seeking a new role, and the same advice can hold for employers. Like recruiters, employee referrals can connect you with passive job seekers who aren’t on job marketplaces. Employees know the people they refer will reflect on them, too, so they have an incentive to only recommend people who’d truly be a good fit for the company and position.

Industry events

Events like conferences, exhibitions, and trade shows are great places for professionals to grow both their knowledge and their network. The people who attend these events are exactly the type of employees most companies want: Workers who are dedicated to their career and proactive in building their skills and expertise. That makes them an ideal place to connect with potential supply chain leaders.

Educational institutions and professional organizations

Many universities offer Master’s degree programs in logistics or supply chain management. Even if a Master’s degree isn’t a requirement for your role, the people who pursue this advanced education are likely to have the skills and experience you need on your team.

Other professionals choose to obtain certification to continue their education. Most of these credentials are awarded by organizations whose members are active professionals eager to advance their supply chain career. The ASCM mentioned above is the largest such organization, but there are other groups you can connect with, too, such as:

Writing an effective supply chain manager job description

Wherever you decide to look for your next supply chain manager, you’ll need to write an effective job description to explain your role and what you want from an ideal candidate. The top of your job descriptions is the ideal place to describe your company, its culture, and the mission or values that drive it. Today’s job seekers expect to get this kind of information before they decide whether a role is a good fit, so you don’t want to omit this, particularly for critical leadership and management roles.

Along with an overview of your company, the top of the job description should summarize the role’s main duties and requirements. Focus on the high-level responsibilities and most critical skills in this initial summary. You can go into more detail on specifics in the sections that follow.

There are ample templates available online if you’re not sure how to write an effective job description. It can also be beneficial to read the job postings from your competitors and see how they describe themselves and their role.

The specific responsibilities and qualifications you list in your job description will vary based on factors like your industry and the scope of the role. The sections below list some typical duties and requirements that you can use as a guide in writing your postings.

Job duties and responsibilities

  • Develop and maintain the inventory of materials and goods across the company
  • Establish metrics and processes for measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of the supply chain
  • Analyze current supply chain operations and processes and make improvements to increase the efficiency, profitability, or effectiveness of them
  • Hire and train members of the supply chain team, including supervisors
  • Manage the workflow, schedules, performance evaluation, and discipline of the supply chain team
  • Collaborate with other stakeholders and departments to identify resource needs and ensure the effectiveness of the overall supply chain
  • Identify optimal transportation routes to improve the efficiency of distribution
  • Choose and negotiate with suppliers and vendors for the procurement and delivery of raw materials
  • Assist in the coordination of product line extensions, new product development, and other changes related to the production and distribution of goods
  • Monitor the performance of suppliers and assess their ability to meet quality, cost, and delivery requirements
  • Analyze shipping and delivery data to identify bottlenecks and other transportation issues
  • Maintain records of the company’s inventory, materials, and supply chain processes

Education and certifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, logistics, or a related field
  • Professional certification such as:
    • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)
    • Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD)
    • Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)

Skills and experience

  • 5+ years of experience in a supply chain, logistics, or manufacturing role
  • 3+ years of experience as a supervisor or manager within a supply chain role
  • Experience with inventory management tools and software
  • Experience with project management
  • Knowledge of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
  • Knowledge of safety regulations, including OSHA regulations
  • In-depth understanding of logistics and supply chain best practices
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong interpersonal and leadership skills
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills

What do supply chain managers look for in an employer?

Supply chain managers are critical roles within organizations, ensuring the smooth movement of materials into the business and finished products out to customers. This can make managing an organization’s supply chain a stressful role, often one that requires working long hours. While overall job satisfaction is high among supply chain managers, the demands of the role are the primary source of turnover for these professionals.

Companies that are most successful in hiring and retaining supply chain managers are those that create an environment where their employees feel valued. For mid-level managers, professional development and a clear path to advancement are top considerations. Demonstrating in your job postings and employer branding that you give employees opportunities for growth is one effective way to attract top supply chain managers to your team.

Another key factor for supply chain managers is flexibility and ample time off to recover from their potentially stressful role. This is particularly important for younger professionals, with 60% of Millennials citing work-life balance and personal well-being as their most important consideration when looking for a new role. Among supply chain professionals who changed jobs in 2022, 20% did so for a better work-life balance, and another 20% for more flexible work arrangements, according to an ASCM survey.

Companies can offer employees this flexibility in a few ways. One is by providing sufficient paid time off to recharge, and 48% of current supply chain professionals receive 4 weeks or more of PTO each year. Hybrid and remote work are also on the rise, with only 34% of professionals working on-site full-time in 2022, and the rest evenly split between hybrid and fully-remote roles. If you don’t currently offer this kind of flexibility, increasing vacation time and exploring hybrid or remote work models can help you attract better supply chain talent for your next role.

Salary expectations of supply chain managers

The supply chain impacts a wide range of industries around the world, and with this variety comes a wide potential pay range. According to ASCM’s 2022 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report, overall supply chain salaries ranged from $56,000-$185,000, including both their base salary and additional forms of compensation like profit sharing, overtime, and bonuses.

While there is a wide range of compensation for supply chain professionals, one thing is consistently true across roles: The average salary is on the rise. The median base salary was $88,000 per year in 2022, an increase of 12% compared to 2020. On the individual level, 79% of the professionals surveyed reported receiving a pay raise in 2021, with an average increase of 9%.

Years of experience in the supply chain is one significant factor in the salary supply chain workers received in 2022. Those with 5-9 years of supply chain experience earned an average salary of $82,000 in 2021, increasing to $100,000 for those with 10-19 years of experience and $125,191 for professionals with 20 years or more in the industry.

Job title and responsibilities are a factor here, as well. Senior-level professionals command the highest pay. Supply Chain Directors are at the top of the list, with a median salary of $155,000 in 2021. They are followed by Director of Operations ($141,100) and Supply Chain Manager ($105,000). Managerial roles with a tighter focus, like Operations Managers, Logistics Managers, and Warehouse Managers, earned a median annual salary ranging from $75,000-$105,000.

The interview process

In a competitive job market with skill shortages and high demand for talent, the most qualified professionals often don’t need to wait long to receive an offer. For companies, this makes the speed of the hiring process a crucial consideration. Streamlining your hiring process to remove bottlenecks and delays is the best way to ensure you can hire your top candidates before they take another role.

The number of interview rounds you conduct is a big part of this. The more times you ask candidates to come back for an interview, the longer they have to wait for your decision and the more likely it is they’ll find employment elsewhere. According to research from Google, four interviews is the maximum number a company should conduct. More than this is likely to lead to interview fatigue in candidates. What’s more, conducting five or more interview rounds isn’t productive. Their research found that, in 94% of cases, hiring decisions were the same after the fourth round as they were after five or more.

One way to reduce the number of interview rounds for candidates is to use other assessments as part of this process. Personality tests and skill assessments can provide valuable data to help hiring teams make their decisions more quickly. Along with this, maximize the value from each interview round by making sure you’re asking impactful interview questions that target the specific needs and functions of the role. Having supply chain leaders and experts in your organization develop the interview questions, rather than offloading this task to HR, can help make sure you’re asking questions that will give you real insights into the candidate’s fitness for your role and company.

Hiring tips for supply chain employers

Conduct workforce planning studies to forecast your future talent needs.

Waiting until you have a vacancy or talent gap to start the hiring process puts a lot of extra pressure and stress on the hiring team to find a perfect fit quickly. While reducing time to hire is a smart move in any circumstance, you don’t want to hire the wrong person because you were in a rush. Conducting regular talent forecasting helps you get ahead of your talent needs so you can hire with a strategy, not out of desperation.

Create a strong employer brand.

Marketers understand the importance of branding for attracting customers to a business. Those same strategies can be employed by hiring teams to show potential candidates why they should work for your organization. Highlight your company’s values and mission in your online presence and interactions with professionals at conferences and other industry events. Involve your current team in these branding materials, too. It’s one thing to have a company’s leadership telling candidates the company is a great place to work, but that message is even more powerful when it comes from an employee first-hand.

Implement mentorship and leadership development programs.

While hiring for any level of supply chain role can be a challenge, that challenge increases when you need candidates with leadership skills and extensive industry experience. Developing leaders within your organization means you don’t need to look for as many from outside. Having these kinds of programs also strengthens your employer brand, showing candidates that you’re a workplace where they can advance their career.

In conclusion

The supply chain talent you hire can make or break your organization. These professionals have a hand in every aspect of your operations, from sourcing materials for your products to delivering finished goods on time to customers. As demand for supply chain managers continues to grow, having a solid hiring strategy in place will help you make sure you can land the right talent for your team.