Competing for Talent? Better Take a Closer Look at Your Supply Chain Brand

Competing for Talent? Better Take a Closer Look at Your Supply Chain Brand

* By Sara Pearson Specter *

Attracting and recruiting the talent needed to run the digital supply chain has become one of the top priorities of many chief executives and chief supply chain officers (CSCOs). With the most heavily recruited of that talent being Millennials (and the subsequent Gen Z following close behind), supply chain organizations find themselves competing for the best and brightest—particularly among data scientists and analysts—against big-name tech companies like Apple and Google.

The question is, how can companies with less cachet—and hiring in a field not widely perceived as being as “tech-y” or “cool” as it actually is—win the recruiting war for these highly desirable staffers?

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who has studied this topic more acutely—and from more angles—than Dana Stiffler, research vice president and analyst for Gartner Research. Stiffler, who has headed Gartner’s research on the top 25 supply chain undergraduate- and graduate-degree programs for more than a decade, also investigates supply chain talent strategies. She knows what Millennials (and their younger siblings) are looking for in a potential employer; and she says it’s time for supply chain organizations to start thinking differently about their recruiting approach.

“In our research, supply chain leaders tell us that not only is the gap between today’s skill sets and those needed within the next five years enormous, but also that their struggle to access top-tier talent is an even larger barrier to innovation than access to capital is,” she said. “That means companies are having an easier time coming up with the money to invest in advanced, digital supply chain technologies, yet they can’t leverage them to their fullest capacity because they can’t find the talent to support those investments.”

That’s not the only thing fueling CEOs’ and CSCOs’ anxieties. In a separate study, Stiffler and her colleagues found that 97% of today’s top North American supply chain undergrads are hired three months after graduation (many of them already snapped up before receiving their diploma), at starting salaries ranging from $60,000 to $80,000. Further, 44% of supply chain associates plan to look for opportunities outside their current companies in the next 12 months. For those reasons, 82% of supply chain leaders are concerned about their ability to attract talent, and 75% worry about retaining the talent they have.

One way to address these hiring challenges is having what Stiffler calls a visible “supply chain career brand.” And the good news is it’s neither a difficult nor expensive solution to deploy.

Many companies may already have a supply chain career brand. Some refer to it as a culture, others as employee engagement. But not many companies define or publicize it, particularly to prospective hires, through a public-facing website that speaks specifically to the career opportunities within the supply chain and the importance of those roles to the organization.

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