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10 Ways to Maximize Supply Chain Talent

  • Rodney Apple

Hiring can be extremely challenging in supply chain management, particularly because of the current skills gap. Luckily, there are some low-cost, high-yield solutions that organizations can implement to attract and land the talent needed to keep their networks operating efficiently.

Conduct a workforce-planning study. Instead of raw materials or finished goods, develop a forecast for talent needs over a defined period. This involves analyzing attrition rates, recruiting metrics, succession plans, business strategies and future hiring initiatives. Administering a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis will enable the business to align the proper resources to satisfy talent demands while improving acquisition, retention and development efforts.

Streamline hiring processes. To increase recruiter productivity, mitigate administrative burdens and create a positive candidate experience, first break down every aspect of the current process to identify opportunities for improvement. Next, develop corrective action plans to close the gaps. Consider hiring a consultant or continuous-improvement specialist who can map and streamline end-to-end hiring processes. Strive to achieve a balance that enables proper assessment of candidates while encouraging quick hiring decisions. Top talent does not stay on the job market long.

Right-size the recruiting team. The most successful talent-acquisition departments are proactive; view their recruiting departments as a strategic, value-added function; and invest ample resources into optimizing teams, processes and systems. Moreover, they align tasks with the right people. A common mistake is making recruiters handle administrative jobs, such as interview scheduling, escorting candidates around the building or writing offer letters. Allocating such things to an administrative assistant frees recruiters to focus on more value-added responsibilities.

Improve career branding. Deploy creative marketing and branding strategies that highlight organization culture, history, career paths and the benefits of being on staff. Incorporate employee testimonials, ideally using video, as this format is more likely to resonate with candidates. And make sure career information is easy to find on the company website.

Elevate direct sourcing ability. Consider supply chain association online directories; new graduates from top universities with excellent entry-level potential; internal databases, which can be mined to find candidates; paid-recruiting tools to help expand talent-sourcing networks; supply chain job boards; and sponsored or targeted social media ads that enable recruiters to target by job titles, industries and company names.

Upgrade applicant tracking systems. Keep in mind these solutions are meant to improve hiring efficiency, increase recruiter productivity and streamline the application process for candidates.

Create a leadership-development program. Candidates who rotate through the different functional areas of the organization enhance their skill sets and gain essential supply chain knowledge. Begin by establishing a cross-functional team from the supply chain organization to generate ideas and identify needed resources. From there, benchmark organizations that have mature leadership-development programs in place, such as General Electric and Caterpillar, to build a robust framework.

Implement a mentorship program. Effective supply chain mentorship first and foremost requires clear and measured goals structured around key objectives. One dedicated individual should oversee the program with the help of a cross-functional steering committee. The framework can include basic communication templates, meeting agendas, action plans and progress reports.

Foster talent scouts. Before sending an employee or team to association events, train them on how to become talent scouts so they proactively network and seek candidates for the business. Afterward, conduct a debrief to review business cards, build profiles for each prospect and develop follow-up plans.

Use employee-referrals. Lastly, personal referrals typically are the top source of hires, have high conversion rates from interview to hire, and often have longer tenure. To ensure participation, programs should be driven by the supply chain recruiter with a human resources partner and sponsored by a senior supply chain executive. It’s best to implement an automated system for employees to use, as well as incentives to drive great results.


Rodney Apple is founder and president of SCM Talent Group, a supply chain recruiting and executive search firm. He has served as the APICS career coach since 2014 and routinely contributes supply chain career development content for members. Apple may be contacted at

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