Market Intelligence: Tons of Growth in Consumer Goods Planning Roles

May 22, 2014

But it’s a candidate’s market, and companies are losing out at the offer stage

Here’s some midweek market intelligence. In the past few months, we’ve noticed a distinct uptick in Consumer Goods (CPG) companies tapping our network for Planning professionals, specifically Supply Planners, Demand Planners and Operations Planners. Some of Canada’s top Consumer Goods providers are looking to step up production and head into growth mode. They’re bulking up their planning operations to match Supply with Demand and avoid excess inventory and production overruns. To speculate, this may be owing to positive economic forecasts for Canada’s economic growth in 2014. Alternatively, it might be because the consumer spending picture remains uncertain and Planning Professionals are uniquely equipped to help CPG companies (who rely on efficient inventory practices) cope with that uncertainty.

Whatever the reason, one thing has become clear: companies in the CPG space are snapping up planning professionals left and right to support their Supply Chain and Sales operations. So much so, in fact, that the offer stage is becoming a pain point for clients in the hiring process.

This often happens when there’s really high demand for talent in a specific area, and we’ve seen it before: a company spends weeks going through the extensive screening, interview, reference, and compensation analysis process, and finally gets ready to present an offer only to have the candidate withdraw for another opportunity at the last minute.

It’s always frustrating. For the client (and for us, when this happens as part of a search!) it’s a significant investment of time and resources just to end up back at square one.

It’s easy to chalk it up to bad luck, but it’s also worth a bit of analysis: why does this happen?

1. For one, as mentioned, it’s a “buyer’s” market right now for candidates in the Planning space:

CPG companies (including Fortune 500 organizations) are placing a very high value on professionals who can understand inventory targets, inventory metrics and inventory software. On the demand side, there’s a huge value placed on individuals who can analyze sales forecasts and account for variability in product demand.  Many of these candidates know how in demand they are, and that allows them to be choosy. They can be proactive in pursuing multiple roles and selecting based on compensation factors that matter to them most (or company culture, work/life balance, long-term career aspirations and other intangibles). And if multiple companies are chasing them, only one of those companies is going to end up with a successful hire.

So it’s a case of Supply and Demand, and losing great candidates to other offers is sometimes inevitable. But there are other factors at play that are causing these companies to lose great candidates at the offer stage. And, if we may, here are the ways to overcome those obstacles by partnering with a recruitment specialist.

2. If you’re only pursuing active candidates, you’re more likely to lose them at the offer stage to other opportunities:

Active candidates are people who are out there networking and applying for jobs. In a high-demand area like Planning, this means that they’re more likely to have multiple opportunities on the go. Which means a company is more likely to lose out at the offer stage. A specialty recruiter offers more access to the passive candidate market: people who are open to new opportunities but aren’t highly visible in the marketplace. Passive candidates already have employment, so they can be more discerning. They are less likely to assess multiple opportunities at once, and aren’t necessarily as inclined to take the quickest job offer that comes through. This means that companies are less likely to lose out on them to a competing offer.

 3. Timing comes into play:

It’s well-known that deals tend to languish as time goes on. The longer a resume is sitting on a hard drive, or the longer a verdict is sitting with a hiring manager after an interview, the easier it is to let the process drag on and the more likely a candidate is to get a competing offer. Other “acts of god” happen that extend the process, whether it’s department reorganization or a hiring manager’s garage burning down (true story). But it can also just take longer to evaluate a candidate for Planning than for other disciplines. It’s easy to evaluate the math capability of a Planning candidate, but it takes longer to evaluate the ‘soft skills’ that set the best talent apart: Decision support, cross-functional capability, communication skills, the ability to spearhead S&OP Planning (on the demand side).

These skills take more interviews and more time to evaluate. A specialty recruitment firm that has experience in Planning recruitment can help with this process by bringing an existing network of vetted candidates who know how to speak to these soft skills. And a recruiter like Argentus understands the current market and can also provide a general SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis that will allow a company to think strategically about the pitfalls that can happen during a search: what strengths will attract candidates to the role and company? What threats are out there in terms of competing offers and opportunities? These considerations are harder to make if a hiring manager is flying solo.

So the takeaway is this: Planning professionals are in very high demand in CPG, and that can lead to disappointment at the offer stage. It’s a pain point for lots of companies. But not if you conduct the search strategically.

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Find out why we’re a leader in the Supply Chain Recruiting niche:

Extensive reach into the passive candidate market. Industry-leading sourcing techniques. Specialized Supply Chain recruitment focus. And a tenacious, highly-disciplined team who know Supply Chain through and through.

These are the strategic advantages we bring to our clients in a diverse set of industries, from Pharmaceutical to Consumer Goods, Construction and Financial Services, to name a few. If it’s Supply Chain, Procurement, Logistics, Operations, or Planning, Argentus is the premier recruiting partner for some of Canada’s top companies. Our video succinctly and quickly explains how we help organizations fill talent gaps in this highly competitive vertical:

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