Talent Scout: Building the Supply Chain Workforce of the Future, Pt 1

Published : September 2, 2015

Building a Supply Chain Workforce

Realistically, every new hire you bring into your team will need training. However, this doesn't mean that each potential hire starts off on even footing: Even innate skill rarely holds up to proper education in a given industry. In the fast-moving world of supply chain management, this hard-earned knowledge is exponentially more important. The speed of innovation doesn't give existing managers a lot of breathing room to extensively train others. How can companies ensure that they're adding the right people without costly trial and error? By plucking their talent from the fertile grounds of established university graduates. 

Which Schools Are Best for Logistics Talent?

Overwhelmingly, industry sources point to Michigan State, in East Lansing, as the go-to for hunting supply chain talent. US News and World Report ranked it as the top name in logistics education among the nation's elite 18. Supporting that placement, Industry Week highlights the institution's plans for a value chain management research institute as a contributing factor to the school's positive reputation. MIT—unsurprisingly—also earns a place in the winner's circle of this increasingly tech-based industry, with Penn State hovering at the 2nd or 3rd spot, depending on the research or survey. Other schools in the top ten include Arizona State, Stanford, University of Tennessee, University of Maryland and Purdue.

Considerations for Landing Your Talent

Once you've determined your "fishing spots" for new talent, you'll need to make a solid case to win them over. What do you offer that your competitors do not, or at least can't match at your level? Obviously you don't want to over-promise and tax your hiring resources, but you'll want to keep in mind that today's supply chain graduates are entering a seller's market. Start your search knowing how many total candidates you'll consider and what kind of qualifications will help you narrow down each "bracket"—if you have these elements ready to go when you arrive at the school or start advertising there, you'll be able to be a little pickier about your potentials. It may also be worth talking to relevant advisors within your school(s) of choice. These individuals are uniquely qualified to match graduating students to the supply chain strategy or opportunities that your company offers.

If You Like What You See...

If a new hire shows a particularly useful set of skills from the onset and excels at his or her position, don't be afraid to leverage that familiarity into additional talent acquisition. Ask the new hire personally if any classmates showed similar interest in mutual skills, or make it a point to foster a relationship with the school itself for ongoing hiring efforts. Many larger universities, such as ASU, will have dedicated offices or organizations focused on working with employers and students for job placement. Not only does this make hunting for talent fish-in-a-barrel easier, it also protects your company: schools such as ASU have policies against students accepting multiple job offers or seeking additional offers once one has been accepted. Try finding that type of assurance in an open job market, and you'll likely be disappointed. 

Logistics requires a quick mind, knowledge of the industry as a whole and an eye towards "predicting the future" with an equal balance of lucrative risk and conservative planning. When selecting new employees to fill these roles, you'll naturally want the best in the business, and that means inviting them in proactively. Your supply chain strategy needs an infusion of fresh ideas on a regular basis to stay competitive, and one of the most painless ways to make that happen is through new talent. From millennials to newer grads today, using these schools and these methods in tandem will keep your company looking full of—and performing with—the strength of youthful energy

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Topics: Supply Chain Workforce Management

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