For CSCMP members, nothing is more important than managing their careers and maximizing their opportunities in the supply chain management (SCM) field. That's why one of CSCMP's main goals is to support members' professional development, and it's one of the primary reasons SCM professionals join the organization.
Longtime CSCMP member Roger Zetter believes that the most successful SCM professionals are the ones who are open to new ideas, are receptive to change, are equipped with "people skills," and set high goals for themselves. Most importantly, those who skillfully map out their careers have the most potential to make it to the executive suites.
Zetter speaks with authority: He owns a personnel firm that specializes in helping companies recruit supply chain management talent and assisting candidates to secure the optimal SCM positions.
In that role, Zetter is doing exactly what he's always wanted to do. But he also understands the needs of his clients from personal experience. Before becoming a recruiter, he held directorlevel positions in transportation and logistics for companies such as Transport International Pool and Burlington Industries.
Zetter says that planning your career path is possible, even in a difficult economy. In fact, he believes that there are more opportunities in the supply chain field now than ever before, because leaders at companies of all sizes are beginning to recognize the impact of SCM on their bottom lines.
Here are some of Roger Zetter's tips on how to work with recruiters, along with his observations on the state of supply chain management jobs today.
How do the qualities that companies are seeking in a supply chain manager today compare with their criteria when you first started in the business?
Companies today are seeking candidates who understand comprehensive supply chain systems, have polished, persuasive presentation skills, and work well within a team structure. The days of separate supply chain disciplines—transportation and traffic, warehousing and distribution, inventory control, customer service—are over. Twenty-first-century companies are looking for candidates who can improve processes, not only along the supply chain but also within the organization as a whole.
Name: Roger J. Zetter, CPC
Title: Chief Executive Officer
Organization: Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters LLC
How does the process of finding a new position via a recruiter differ from other methods of finding a job?
Because of the partnerships we establish with hiring companies, recruiters have access to information about positions that isn't available to the general public: the real reasons that a position is open, its salary range, the culture of a company, and other pertinent information that may affect the interview or a candidate's decision about whether to accept or reject an offer.
Recruiters are also aware of positions that are not available through the traditional job resources and channels. We advise candidates and companies all the way through the interviewing process, and answer questions for both that may not be addressed in a résumé or in an interview. Most importantly, recruiters assist in the salary and benefits negotiations to ensure that both parties are pleased.
How can a candidate prepare to find a new job through a recruiting service?
The three things you should keep in mind when dealing with recruiters are: First, you are not their clients. The companies that enlist their assistance in finding the best candidates are their clients. Second, you should begin developing good relationships with recruiters before you need their help. Start building these relationships from the first time you meet them. Treat recruiters with the same respect as you treat the individuals at the companies you are applying to. And third, when you contact recruiters, make sure you represent yourself in a professional manner. Making a good first impression with a recruiter will go a long way when you're looking for a good position.
What guidelines should a candidate follow for crafting a résumé that will get results?
A résumé should consist of no more than two pages, with enough white space to avoid looking too "busy." It should include the key responsibilities and accomplishments of your most recent positions. Accomplishments from 20 years ago are not as relevant as those from your latest positions. Include your home and e-mail addresses, as well as your home, work, and cell phone numbers.
You may need to provide information about companies you have worked for that are not widely known, such as industries, products, sales, and markets served. Generally speaking, it takes about 30 seconds for an employer to determine if your résumé fits the basic criteria of a position. Your résumé is like a book jacket for your career. The ones that get results present solid candidates and tell your story in a clear and concise manner.
What is the state of the job market for supply chain management professionals in today's uncertain and unpredictable economic climate?
We're seeing an increase in the need for transportation and traffic professionals in the 3PL (third-party logistics) and manufacturing sectors. Although a significant amount of manufacturing has moved from the United States to overseas, raw materials, components, accessories, and finished goods still need to be received at ports and airports and moved to final destinations through the logistics system.
In our industry, as well as in corporate talent-acquisition departments, the cry is, "We can't find enough qualified candidates." The unemployment rate in SCM is extremely low. It is definitely a candidate's market, with salary levels on the rise.
What are the hot jobs within the SCM field?
Positions that are related to the international movement of both finished goods and raw materials are very strong. This includes import/export operations and regulatory compliance. So is anything related to load and packaging optimization. These functions also create positions in the planning stages as well as in implementation and operations. Finally, I foresee strong growth at all levels of the third-party logistics sector.
Where are the hot jobs located?
A lot of new positions are emerging overseas. Here in the U.S., the growing port areas are hiring. We are not seeing a geographic trend for new positions as we have in the past, such as to the Southwest or the Southeast. Rather, today's assignments are being determined by where clients' specific needs are, as with positions closely tied to new technology or staffing needs arising from new operations.
What skills and experience will set a candidate furthest above and beyond the rest of the pack in a competitive SCM job market?
Today's dynamic companies look for a solid work history with reasonable tenure at each of your companies and positions. Experience with current systems in the supply chain is important, as is a history of upward mobility. You need to provide a record of significant achievements and contributions, showing that you have mastered your position. Excellent communication and presentation skills will provide you with a significant advantage, as will membership and participation in professional organizations like CSCMP.
One of our goals as SCM professionals should also be to learn a second or even a third language, which may be a requirement in the future. It's hard to manage a global supply chain without knowing other languages and understanding other cultures.
Are employment prospects any better for SCM professionals with graduate degrees?
Candidates with graduate degrees have a definite edge in the selection and screening process. In some positions, a graduate degree is a requirement.
People in many fields have found it difficult to secure employment if they're in their 60s, 50s, or even their 40s. Is this a factor in the SCM field?
I don't think the problem is one of age, but rather the need for professionals to keep up with new concepts and technology. As an industry, we are having a problem finding qualified candidates in both the permanent and temporary areas as more "baby boomers" approach retirement age.
What can older workers do to capitalize on their opportunities for finding a job?
They should improve and broaden their professional skills, and maximize their exposure by using the Web and networking boards. Also, older workers should utilize the services of the recruitment industry. Consider relocation as a reasonable approach to finding the right job, rather than as a last resort. Attend and participate in local and regional supply chain professional meetings, and volunteer to serve on their boards. Network, network, and network!
How can SCM professionals manage their careers in an employment environment that is rife with layoffs, downsizing, mergers, and a whole host of other professional perils?
Supply chain managers need to keep current with new developments in process improvements by attending both local and national meetings of professional associations like CSCMP. Don't limit your professional growth to only your area of the supply chain. Become certified or pursue a graduate degree. Gain visibility by speaking at association meetings or becoming an officer of an association. Seek out new supply chain assignments at your present company in order to strengthen your overall skill set. Take risks on the job when they are win-win situations. In other words, manage your career.
The most successful SCM professionals I know are those who have planned their careers. Going forward, you will need to be positive about yourself and what you do. Strive for constant growth, and learn everything you can about your position and your company, and how to improve them both. Do your job better than anyone else. Work effectively with your counterparts as well as with your internal and external customers. When you are in a position to hire, hire the best. Be a good mentor, and seek mentors of your own. Aspire to promotions with growth potential, not dead-end positions. Train someone under you for your current position so that you can be promoted.
I can't stress enough the importance of organizations like CSCMP in helping you to keep abreast of changes in the SCM profession. A CSCMP membership can give you the confidence to identify opportunities that can provide a competitive advantage for your company, and to take the necessary risks to make it happen. Approach the management of your career as you would approach the management of your company.