Getting a foot into the door of the Supply Chain IndustryMay 27, 2022
There are numerous ways to break into the global supply chain industry at entry-level, below are some suggestions on how to achieve this:
Using a Recruitment Agency
When starting out, many people talk to recruiting companies and head-hunters. This is of particular benefit if you wish to test the waters before committing to one job and one employer.
A recruitment agency may be able to find you a temporary position, which, if you prove to be a good fit with the company, could lead to a permanent job. But to be honest, this method becomes a bit of a numbers game. It’s hard to stand out from the crowd unless you’ve got exemplary qualifications.
Look out for industry-type events in your area, as these provide an opportunity for you to meet lots of people. Speak to as many professionals as you can—discuss your various options with them. And don’t be afraid to ask their advice on how to start out in the industry. As the saying goes: “What you know is important; who you know is the key.”
LinkedIn is the best platform for this. Put your profile up so that managers can find you. Be sure to include all the keywords for the type of work you want to do. Recruiters and managers are increasingly using social media, in particular LinkedIn, to assess prospective candidates through their links and posts. You can also use LinkedIn to scour the many supply chain jobs that are advertised on the platform.
Knock on the doors of some of the big FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) companies, many of which take on interns. Big companies offer an environment where you could grow, so try to get an entry-level position with one of them.
I always stress to people starting out that they should not worry at what level they get in. Just get in and start gaining some experience.
Some of the best ways to do that are through third-party logistics companies (3PLs). You could pick up a job as a warehouse picker, a forklift driver, or even a truck driver. Some companies even hire scooter drivers for last-mile deliveries.
You could also get a role in product reception and dispatch. This entails receiving products at the warehouse from delivery vehicles and unpacking and storing them.
It doesn’t really matter what you are doing, just get into the industry. You will learn the ins and outs and in time will acquire all sorts of skills.
Other Entry-Level Supply Chain Jobs
There are many other entry-level jobs that you could explore. The following posts do not require previous experience but some demand a diploma, certification, or, possibly, a university degree. All will involve a period of on-the-job training:
Cost estimators: These are the professionals who collect and analyse data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labour needed to manufacture a particular product, or to provide a service.
Quality controllers: These positions are created at various points throughout the supply chain. The quality control inspector’s job is to test products and measure them against pre-set specifications. They will accept or reject products, recording the reasons for the decision and making suggestions on how to streamline the process.
Buyers: Though they do not require previous hands-on experience, wholesale and retail buyers are typically required to have a business degree, especially one focused on supply management. The buyer’s job is to meet with vendors and negotiate the best possible product supply deals, and then oversee deliveries to ensure all contract obligations are fulfilled.
Customer relations: Because the ultimate objective of the supply chain is getting the product into the hands of the customer, teams are employed to take orders, manage invoices, and keep track of returns. At a more senior level, we find customer relations managers. Their job is to manage overall service performance and develop relationships between their company and its customers.
Marketing and advertising: If selling is your forte, there are plenty of positions in marketing and sales as well as in advertising and merchandising.
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