Are you falling behind as technology transforms supply chain recruitment?


In today’s constantly evolving world, technology is coming at us so quickly, rapidly changing and advancing; how can anyone keep up?  The second we implement the latest and greatest new software or tool, it becomes outdated and we find something bigger, better and faster.

 If it affects recruiters like me, think of how impactful that same constant change is within the complex world of supply chain logistics.

Supply chain logistics has never been an easy industry.  With many different pieces, parts and partners, it’s a fluid environment.  Most companies are embracing lean initiatives, and everyone has their mind set on better, easier, and more streamlined and efficient ways of doing business.

With each advancement in technology, the way companies do business internally, and with each other is changing.

This is very evident in the supply chain management (SCM) employment market as well.

There have been so many advances in the industry over the last century, starting with Ford inventing the first moving assembly line in 1913.  In the ‘50s we had the ocean container, the ‘60s EDI, the ‘70s the UPC, the ‘80s the ERP system, and in the ‘90s the birth of the mainstream Internet.

Those changes, albeit over a long period of time, have significantly advanced our industry.  But since the ‘90s, the technology has come so far and so fast that I could not list it all in this article.

This leads us to a few questions:

How does this technological advancement affect the labor market?

How do companies ensure they are hiring to the technology?

Finally, how fast can a company change direction with a new system, software, or tool and expect the team to keep up?

Train for the new needs of the workplace

If you are looking to have a future in SCM, then you need to be smart, fast, flexible, engaged, intuitive, and above all else analytical.  Companies have more complex roles to fill than ever before, which drive this super-technical environment we now live and work within.

It is now much more common to find a manufacturer looking for a Supply Chain Director with an engineering background than one looking for a warehouse worker.  Just twenty years ago, it was the other way around.

Cisco Systems’ SVP of Supply Chain Operations, John Kern, recently said “The supply chain industry is undergoing one of the most massive talent shifts we have ever seen.”

To prepare future professionals to survive and thrive in the talent shift, universities need to do a better job of preparing SCM students to handle the quick moving and rapidly changing environment. Students need more cross-functional internships with real life hands-on training.

When considering a university program, think about how well prepared you will be at graduation. Academic education can only get you so far. Hands on training, internships, field trips, and real word experience from professors or professionals who have recently worked in the industry is what will provide you the best start to a promising career.

Students need to dive in and get their hands dirty.

They must have the ability to multitask, change direction with flexibility, and they must possess the discipline to ask questions until they find the right answers.  They need to think for themselves under great pressure and analyze solutions.

According to a recent article in Inbound Logistics, The Top Universities for Supply Chain Technology Education, “It has never been more important for new professionals in the supply chain field to have experience with the digital tools that are essentially the backbone of major supply chain operations.”  Because of this importance, they partnered with Software Advice, who compiled a recent ranking of top SCM programs in the U.S.

These programs are doing a better job of incorporating software and technology in to their SCM programs, and are a good place to consider for either an undergrad interested in the industry or as a returning student looking to remain relevant and current for their career advancement.

Make a lifelong commitment to technological training

Since jobs are becoming more and more complex, and companies have a lot on the line when hiring someone to handle these large and ever-changing supply chains, we implemented some tools of our own to use in the hiring process.

We have started using video interviewing to offer our clients a better picture of who our candidates are.  We think this gives the company a more complete picture than just a resume alone.

However, we found that the software we use, allowing the candidate to login and control the time, pace and place of their interview, causes difficultly for most people over 50.

In comparison, the Millennials sign in, and with little effort turn in a high quality video.

The younger candidates are, in most cases, using better computers or tablets, and are comfortable enough to be articulate and expressive.  Frequently, their responses about the process are that they are impressed with the ease and simplicity of getting their first interview out of the way.

Many older candidates, however, push back on having to do it at all, and usually stumble with technical difficultly. More often than not, the video comes back to us as unusable.  It magnifies the challenges older candidates struggle with when using new technology and it brings up the obvious concern – will they be able to learn and use the technology on the job?

My recommendation for those that are not very tech savvy, is to brush up on new technology in any of the following ways:

  • Follow blogs
  • Sign up for industry newsletters
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Watch videos on YouTube
  • Become active on social media

Become as familiar as possible with the technology being used within your organization, as well as in the industry.  Beyond staying current with technology, certifications are a great way to ensure that you are still learning about industry trends.

Everyone needs to get on the same page

After doing some evaluating of the most difficult positions to fill, we decided to partner with our clients in offering candidate aptitude and performance predictability testing, along with the ability to create a job benchmark to ensure that we are hiring the right person for the job.

As it turns out, many roles have become so complex that each person on the hiring team often has trouble agreeing on what skills are needed to do the job.

Creating a job benchmark, which the hiring team agrees on, and then hiring the person who most closely matches that benchmark, ensures success.

Studies prove that going through this added value process increases both employee job satisfaction, as well as better job performance and stability for the company.

It is because of the complexity of these jobs that we, in the supply chain recruitment industry, are embracing new technology ourselves in order to deliver the results that clients expect to see when placing new team members into their organization.

Looking into the future of supply chain

Looking toward the future, there is a lot of talk about, Big Data, IoT (the Internet of Things), total connectivity, increased cloud-based solutions, and even robots.

Robots? Who thought that would happen in our lifetime?  All of this will continue to drive advancements in SCM.

In the end, with every step we take in technological advancement we still must strive to master the basics.

We seek to increase transparency and visibility while controlling development, replenishment, maintenance, production, transportation, delivery and customer satisfaction.

Then, of course, we need to do all this without forgetting to drive efficiencies and mitigate risk and loss.

It is a good time to work in this industry: jobs are plentiful and salaries are increasing at a rapid rate. According to the U.S. Department of Labor,

“Employment of logisticians is projected to grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by the important role logistics plays in the transportation of goods in a global economy.”

With a very strong prediction for record growth in an advancing industry, we now all need to do a better job of learning and embracing the technology that drives that growth. Our jobs, and our future, depend on it.

Originally published on FITT blog, Trade Ready. 8/20/2015

Does your HR Team Speak Logistics?

clocksWe are heading in to a tough time in the logistics and supply chain world of hiring. There is a talent shortage in our growing industry.  Good quality people are becoming harder to find, especially in middle management.

When it comes to new graduates, students have their pick of sweet offers and if they went to a college which had internships built-in to their program, chances are they have jobs waiting for them at graduation.

As an independent recruiter who specializes in logistics and SCM placements,  our biggest frustration is dealing with HR people who do not understand logistics and supply chain.  They really struggle with the complex positions involving high level project management, big data, engineering and lean or six sigma certification.

We recently filled a Corporate Director of Logistics role at one of USA’s largest companies and it took five months for them to hire the candidate I presented on day one.  Why?  Because this highly qualified, very educated and experienced supply chain expert didn’t actually use the term “3PL” anywhere on his resume. The HR person only knew enough to look for “3PL” to know if the candidate was qualified enough to pass the resume on to the hiring team.

This candidate, in addition to his career experience, had a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a Concentration in Logistics, an MBA, with Concentration in Strategic Leadership and held a Master Black Belt Certification.  He was also awarded the Demonstrated Senior Logistician (DSL)  award from the International Society of Logistics.  The HR Team said he wasn’t qualified and finally 4 months later, when they agreed to show his resume to the hiring manager, the candidate was hired.

By the time the candidate started, over five months had gone by and five months without a Corporate Director of Logistics was probably a costly mistake on their part.

If your company is experiencing growth or plans on experiencing growth in your distribution, logistics, warehousing or supply chain business units, make sure that your Human Resources team is knowledgeable enough to spot talent or you will lose them to another company with an HR team who is ready and well versed in all things pertaining to logistics and SCM.

Time is running out because the talent shortage is only going to continue and it is a NOW a candidate market.

With the Push of a Button

With the push of a button

I came across two articles this weekend which made me think about our upcoming labor shortage and how that is driving companies to ensure they are a place where people want to work. There was an article in the Weekend Edition of the WSJ titled, “Thinking of QuittingThe Boss Knows“. The article addresses the issue of employers needing to find ways to stay one step ahead of employees heading out the door.

Apparently, some of the larger corporate employers are gathering data on a regular basis to identify flight risks. Some of the factors they are analyzing are “job tenure, geography, performance reviews, employee’s surveys, communication patterns and even personality tests.” Gathering this data helps them to understand who will stay and who may be looking to escape. This information can be used to either better the work environment or to prepare for the potential vacancy should some leave. I think they are both pretty 2015 savvy.

How are they doing this? The article mentions Ultimate Software Group Inc. which actually sells a software that provides an employee’s “retention predictor” score to “indicate the likelihood that a worker will leave”.

Employers want to keep their current employees because they have realized the cost of replacing them. Finally, they are looking for ways to make them want to stay. This is all good news because some places, and I have worked at a few, are just crappy places to work. As the owner of a recruiting company, I am constantly faced with searching for good places for candidates to work because it doesn’t feel very fulfilling to place them and then find out that it is a horrible place to spend 40 plus hours a week.

The same day I read the article in the WSJ, I stumbled across the company Celpax which sells a tool that you put next to the employee exit door(s) to gauge employee happiness. This gives the HR team information on the overall attitude of every employee. If they are willing to ask…I am guessing that means they are willing to do something about it when scores aren’t in the “green”.

I have included Celpax’s website address at the bottom of this post. They will even send you the device to try for free, according to their website. I considered it but as some of you know, my only employee is my 22 year old daughter and most of the time I can gauge her happiness level WITHOUT a button.

Last summer, I wrote about unusual employee perks (Perks in today’s day and age). I then wrote WHY would I want to work for you?, challenging companies to ensure they offer a good place to work and more importantly that they sell that “good place” to the candidates during the interview process. Obviously, this is a theme for me. I want people to go to work at good companies and I want them to be happy enough to stay.

So, think about it today when you leave the office. Would you push green or red as you walk out the door? Would your company care enough to ask?

If you have a company, are you prepared to ask each worker how their day was at work?

Picture from

Are you a Salary Negotiating Pro?

money maze.jpg

Why are we all so bad at one of the most important aspects of our career, salary negotiations?

No matter how much we prepare for an interview, this is the point where we all fumble the ball.  It reminds me a lot of buying a new car.  I know cars, I have been in sales my whole life and I know all the games car dealers play.  I decide what car to buy, I know the price I want to pay and the best finance options available.  Most importantly, I call to find out the market value and exact payoff of my current vehicle, which I intend to trade in.  I’ve thoroughly prepared myself to answer that inevitable first question from the dealer, “What do you owe on your trade?” My tactical response will be, “What I owe on my current car is of no concern, you give me the best deal on the car I’m interested in buying and let me worry about whether it’s a good deal for me.”  Easy, right? So, when he asks, I take a deep breath and say, “$19, 472.69.”

The same principle applies when we are negotiating a new salary or a raise with a current employer, we mishandle the opportunity and then kick ourselves for weeks because we potentially lost out on an opportunity to earn more.  It is much more common for me to have a resume review with a candidate and find them underpaid for their experience, tenure and education than it is to find a candidate that is overpaid.  If an employer can underpay you because you sell yourself short in the interview, you WILL be leaving money on the table.  Employers are always happy to pay you less.

In an interview, we know we should say,

“I prefer to not discuss my current salary as it’s not relevant to this new role.”

“What is this current position worth in terms of salary to your company?”

“Salary isn’t the only factor in my decision, I am just as concerned about making the right career advancement for my career and what that would mean in salary potential five years from now”.

Yet, what do we say when asked what our current salary is? “63,891.90 and I would need to make at least that to make a change.”  No! Stop the presses… this is NOT the right thing to say but we do it every time.  It is time we all start to look at salary differently because more often than not it is the driving factor in making a career change and if you are a hiring manager, this is just as important to you.  You are probably losing a good employee because of a pay issue and it will cost you dearly to replace that good employee.  According to one estimate , in order to replace a worker earning $60,000, reported costs to interview, hire, onboard, train and assimilate a new employee could run as high as $150,000.

Fortunately, there are resources out there for job-seekers looking to improve their skills.  Recently, I met Jim Hopkinson, the author of Salary Tutor: Learn the Salary Negotiations Secrets No One Ever Taught You.  He offers salary negotiation articles and resources on his site Salary Tutor, (, and works 1:1 with clients to help them discover how much they’re worth and gain confidence for their interview. It seems to be resonating: More than 10,000 students signed up for his free salary negotiation intro course in the first year alone.

“Candidates can be at a distinct disadvantage during a negotiation, because it’s a skill that is rarely taught. Meanwhile, they might be going up against an experienced HR representative that negotiates salary dozens of times per week.”

Employers, if you are reading this, when employees all start to understand their value and market themselves accordingly then your job will get a bit tougher.

According to Jim, “So many job-seekers are so anxious about the topic and aren’t sure what to say, so they simply accept whatever is offered, leaving money on the table. However, nearly all employersexpect some kind of give and take around an offer, so if the candidate takes the time to put in the effort, do the research, learn a few skills, and role-play how the interview might go, they can reap huge rewards. I’ve seen an $11,000 increase from a single email counter-offer, and a $63,000 increase when changing positions.”

Salary should not be our only concern when considering a new position, however we need to do a better job of knowing our worth and the market level salary for the position for which we are applying.  We owe it to ourselves to have the negotiating skills to win the best salary that we can obtain.  If we better negotiate a salary that will not only cover our current living expenses but also help us to plan and prepare for the future, we will find that we don’t have to change jobs as often.  Our career changes will then be driven more by opportunities that arise from our experience, work knowledge and expertise.   In the end, we will follow a more rewarding trajectory to the career we have always envisioned.

In closing, I would like to bring both sides closer to the middle…

Hiring managers, please remember that pricing is a signaling device.  When thinking about what to pay an employee it is best to not be “penny wise and pound foolish.”  In the words of Thomas Paine in the American Crisis, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”  Pay fairly.

Employees, know your value, know the market, know your requirements for not only your current expenses but future expenses and then go to the table prepared to earn what you are worth.   If you have done your homework and have solid reasons for the salary you ask for, you might be surprised when you get just that.

You can find a great wealth of information on increasing your career earnings at Jim’s website,

Social Media and Your Career


Researching candidates via social media and other online sources has transformed from an emerging trend to a staple for online recruitment.

~ Rosemary Haefner, Chief HR Office for Career Builder

It is no secret that social media has changed our lives in far reaching ways.  We all know the benefits and I am guessing that more than a few have also experienced the challenges which come from exposing your life to the masses.

Personally, I avoid posting anything that may be questionable, embarrassing or which somehow might embarrass myself, my family or my friends.  As a parent, I encouraged Abby to remember that her posts would be judged by colleges and then later by employers.  As a recruiter, I cannot stress enough how true this turned out to be. 

Recruiters, both independent and corporate, along with hiring managers often review the social media accounts of top applicants especially if it is for a high level or very visible position.  I have had candidates almost lose their opportunity when a potential employer found questionable posts on the candidate’s personal accounts. 

Here are some of the mistakes I’ve seen which have almost caused a candidate to lose the opportunity to earn that new position.

  • Scantily clad or inappropriate attire in photos or worse, lewd behavior
  • Drinking and drug use
  • Posting during work hours and worse yet, bad mouthing employers or co workers
  • Racist or closed minded thoughts (which throw up red flags to HR managers about future inappropriate work behavior or potential harassment situations)
  • Miss-spelling and bad use of grammar, indicating poor or limited communication skills

The most shocking part of this trend is that it spreads much farther than the 20-30 year old who grew up in the social media boom.  We have seen career limiting behavior from people in their 40’s and 50’s as well. 

Despite the fact that you have heard it before, my advice is to really think about what information you are putting out there about yourself and to remember that even if you limit your visibility it is still possible that your information is viewed by people who may be judging you on the information you put out on the web.  If you are in the market for a new position or if you think you may want to make a career change, I highly suggest you take a look at yourself through the eyes of your future employer and make sure that what you may have said, tweeted, posted, shared or snapped a picture of in the past is a fair and accurate representation of who you are as a person. 

Let us not forget that others can post about you too.  It is a good idea to periodically check to see what information is out there about you.  Let’s all add it to our calendar to do a once yearly check. 

One way to stay in control is to set a Google Alert for yourself so that you are notified if there is new information out there about you. 

You can do that here,

So, this is what I’m really thinking!

Small World, Big Ideas

Here’s the thing about owning a business, it’s a good idea to put your best foot forward and keep your mouth shut.  We are encouraged to project a unified message while sharing thoughts and ideas with other industry leaders.

Well, sometimes I want to say things about life that don’t fit that “life is peachy keen and business is even better” theme.  So, you get to read my logistics and SCM and hiring and interviewing and client and candidate rants here.

Lucky you!