Daily Archives: May 9, 2012

Three Questions for Job Seekers in the Supply Chain Space

Today’s guest post is from Sudy Bharadwaj, who has been analyst extraordinaire of Aberdeen Group, a VP of MindFlow Technologies (who innovated the sourcing optimization space), CMO of Informance (who brought intelligence to the manufacturing floor), and a Sales Superstar at Inovis (who was one of the largest B2B eCommerce players). (Note that all of these companies made successful exits by way of acquisition.) Sudy is currently the CEO of Hound Technologies and JackalopeJobs.com, a new Web 3.0 job search start-up that is looking to revolutionize the job search process for the average job seeker (and not the average recruiter).

Since I have been involved in the supply chain industry for 20+ years, I thought I would share some observations for job seekers in this space. One interesting fact about supply chain jobs — they are all over the map in terms of qualifications and experience. Some high-end jobs require advanced degrees and lots of experience, while others can be entry-level positions.

Regardless of level, there are some common issues all supply chain job seekers should think about:

Are you a cost center or a profit center/revenue center?
Many supply chain professionals, while knowing they have an important role, do not do as good of a job of fully understanding and articulating their overall role in their ecosystem. Think of what revenue or savings you contribute to the company. By optimizing your supply chain, how have you contributed? Can you describe some customer satisfaction metrics? Cost savings metrics?
One famous example of where you fit in the supply chain: when interviewing an assembly line worker installing seat belts at an automobile plant, the line worker told an executive “I not only install seat belts, I save lives”. That’s a great way to look at the job.

How are you managing, building and maintaining your network?
In any job search, networking is crucial, however, in the supply chain space, it can really improve your chances. In addition to connecting to your former co-workers, how about customers, suppliers, partners, etc? You were part of a supply-demand web, which looks like a large network; treat it like your job seeking network. Rather than looking for roles within your exact industry, can you work with customers and/or suppliers?
When discussing his job with a job seeker in the demand-side of the supply chain (read: sales), the main points were selling of products. The first question I asked was “tell me about your customer”.
     Job seeker: “They are a distributor of XXX products”
Me: “What else do they distribute”?
     Job seeker: “Numerous products, including ABC and XYZ”
Me: “Can you sell those?”
     Job seeker: “Of course”
It may not be so easy, but phone calls were made to the distributor, new introductions were made, interviews ensued, and a new job was started with very different products than the sales executive sold before.

Are you addressing your skills gaps?
If you are an aspiring supply chain professional, or returning war veteran, you can find help from your local workforce office or VA representative. A great example in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is what the Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas has done — they acquired funding to develop certification programs — Certified Logistics Associate (CLA) or Certified Logistics Technician (CLT). Don’t live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?
This link describes this program.

Try hitting Google and searching for some common phrases. Just for fun, I Googled “supply chain certification program in north Dakota” and got some interesting hits. Some are online programs from out-of-state schools while others are state sponsored programs.

These are three different questions any job seeker in the supply chain space needs to ask themselves as they embark on a new job search.

Thanks, Sudy. And if you are looking for a new Supply Chain job, try JackalopeJobs.com.* It’s still in beta, so this means there are still some kinks to work out, but it’s the first site that combines the power of a meta-aggregator with the power of multiple social networks simultaneously. Not just a LinkedIn or Facebook app, it can utilize your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Plaxo social networks simultaneously to tell you who in your network might be able to help you with a job on all of the major job search sites. And, unlike most job sites that just do simple title search, it uses Natural Language Processing and Semantic Search to find other jobs that might be relevant to you. For example, if you searched for “inside sales” you would not find an “account executive” job at Oracle on other job sites, which is almost the exact same job, just titled differently in a different organization. And if you searched for Procurement, you might not find Supply Manager — but the Jackalope Jobs engine will. Of course, since NLP and Semantic technology are not perfect and still in refinement, not every result will be a 100% match**, but the majority of the results will be very appropriate matches and this approach furthers the the goal of the site which is to expose you to more opportunities that you might be qualified for and able to get as a result of your network than other job sites give you. And if you search different, you might get surprising results. Sudy’s next post will describe how you use the platform to search different.

* Full disclaimer: the doctor is currently serving as CTO of JackalopeJobs and has a vested interest in the site’s success.

* For example, the phrase “human resources” causes the platform no end of grief because not only does almost every job description mention it once (which is easy to filter out), but poorly written job descriptions mention the phrase more than once when the job is not a human resources (related) job, which leads the NLP keyword analyzer and/or semantic engine to sometimes believe the job might actually be related to human resources. So this search will often turn up more false positives than others. However, these jobs typically get weighted down as you will not likely have as many, or any, connections to jobs in a different industry if you are a HR professional.