Follow the European Procurement/Supply Chain hiring model – Get Results

October 2, 2012

Organisations across Canada have an on-going complaint that they just can’t seem to find the right technical skill base, category experience or salary band match to meet the talent needs for their Supply Chain/Procurement needs. 80,000 SCM jobs annually in specific areas such as Logistics, Strategic Sourcing, Vendor Management, Contract Management and Materials Management make these categories some of the top critical talent categories of today. But, companies want their hires to be an exact match, yes to be able to do 100% of the job as they hit the ground day one. Those are very high expectations where demand is higher than ever and supply is at an all time low. 

This very expectation is usually the reason why so many roles are being left unfilled across Canada far longer (sometimes months) than they need be. These are positions that could easily be filled in a matter of a few short weeks.

The anticipation of getting a perfect fit for open Supply Chain Management roles is highly unrealistic…

So as a seasoned expert in Talent Acquisition in this very narrow but extremely vital vertical, let’s get down to the meat of it – it’s time to look candidly at how employers approach the whole process of screening for talent in a niche that is under siege. And what I mean by that is the fight for talent in this area of professionals is growing and it’s getting much fiercer.

Here’s an example. In my home market (and I do work across Canada and the US too) of Toronto – a large cosmopolitan city and a good barometre for other urban areas, we recently had four offers on two candidates at the same time – can you believe it. Who would believe there is an unemployment problem. And this kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME – Yikes, two losers and two winners, all great companies. And all the while there are so many other great candidates still getting passed up because they don’t meet the full 100% criteria – but I’ll speak to that in a minute

As employers (companies that is) and their Recruiting Partners in this niche, we need to get really good at understanding the psychology of the Supply Chain/Procurement professional. Employers and Recruiters need to stop seeing the SCM hire from the company/client perspective and start getting into these peoples’ heads and start figuring out really quickly what turns these peoples’ cranks and motivates them into considering a career move – whether they will take or reject a courtship of one employer over another. It’s really quite complex starting with the fact that SCM types are highly analytical and are less turned on by warm ‘fuzzies’ but more about the size and scope and spend of projects and the change they can make and what they can learn to add to their  growing bucket of skills. And it’s always about the money. Most of these people are professional negotiators so get used to it – MONEY is top of the list for them when considering whether to stay put or get wooed away.

But the real point I want to make here is that we need to stop approaching the Procurement/Supply Chain market like it isn’t hot, hot, hot. Because it really is HOT. The conditions for hiring are tough. Candfidates are here and gone in the flash of a moment so companies have to move super, super fast. The competition is tight and companies have to come a long way to court potential employees and sell them on why they should come to their organisation vs. another.

Instead, what continues to happen is this, companies still tend towards a standoffish approach when screening these highly sought after, high demand employees. There are so many roles that remain open for so long, it’s time to take a page out of how European companies do it. Given a candidate is great, fits the culture with 80% or 90% of the skills which are the core requirements – the balance of the skills can be trained.

 If this model were applied, North American companies would highly benefit from this approach with SCM hiring because their open roles would get filled faster with better candidates who would stay longer because they would have a longer learning curve and retention is important too – to the whole issue of succession planning.

In 2012 Argentus has certainly been supporting and encouraging this model when representing candidates to our clients because we know too well how competitive the market is for talent. The smart clients are getting on board with us and listening to our experiences and working with us to get the job done.

Higher education also often remains a hurdle. The market is full of amazing procurement professionals especially at the Senior Manager and Director/VP level who have worked their way up through the ranks of their profession without a degree. We know companies are setting the bar higher to get the better quality talent. But the realities are that much of the accomplished talent in this tight market, especially at those senior management levels, do not always have that particular requirement.

 With Baby Boomers leaving the workforce en masse in the next few years, especially in Supply Chain Management, Business Stakeholders MUST work creatively with their in house Talent Acquisition groups as well as their outside Recruiting Partners to find a way to ‘stick handle’ their way around this roadblock and find a way to allow some flexibility on education so as to attract that talent. It’s just too easy to slam the door and say NO and also so shortsighted.

So I’ll leave you with this other idea which references back to the beginning of my blog today. A recent comment from someone who read this blog (a much earlier version this year) the last time I ran it. Thanks Mark Prescott – I agree with what you say wholeheartedly. Now it’s getting everyone else to sing from the same songsheet…

 “Employers seem to exclude people from outside of their industry, because they believe they have “unique” requirements in their industry. The unique characteristic about Supply Chain Management Professionals is we understand there are global generic principles which when followed, yield superior results. Increasing a company’s inventory turnover ratio reduces working capital in all industries. I have experience in high speed beverage packaging operations, foundries, CNC machine shops, and warehousing. I seem to be able to draw on my previous experiences when walking into a new situation that the incumbent personnel have a blind spot for the solution.” 

Companies still do focus in on a very narrow band of candidates within their space which they feel are ideal for their open mandates. And that’s why they are constantly disappointed because they are missing out on top talent in the SCM industry as a whole.

What are your thoughts?

Over and Out



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