Top Tips: Beginning a Career in Supply Chain
So, you’ve decided to start a career in Supply Chain! This article should give you some useful tips in order to begin your search, make yourself stand out, and ensure you end up securing a role with a business where you feel happy and motivated.
Beginning your search: What to think about
Industry - A good supply chain is critical to any business that sells a physical product; it could be fruit, makeup, electronics, or vaccines. This can make supply chain challenging and intense to work in, but also really interesting and exciting, seeing how products are manufactured, transported, and sold to the end consumer. Often, feeling a connection with the product you work with is a good indication as to how much you’ll enjoy any role in supply chain. Before starting your search, think about whether there is a particular industry that you personally love or are interested in. Whether it is beverages, automotive, or fashion, this will help you refine your search, be more selective, and ultimately enjoy your role more.
Function - Supply Chain is a very broad discipline and encompasses a huge variety of different functions and roles. These include Research & Development (R&D), Procurement, Supply Chain Planning, Logistics, Manufacturing, Operations, and Customer Services, all of which require unique skillsets. Whether you have a knack for numbers and analysis, prefer relationship management and customer service, or like the idea of negotiating and bringing on new business, there is a function for you in supply chain. Do some research into some of the key functions listed above and consider what type of role would interest you the most.
Size – Start-up? Mid-size? Blue-chip? The size of a business alone will have a significant impact on the sort of roles available in supply chain and what will be expected of you. In a smaller business with a less mature or established supply chain, you may be doing a mixture of everything, from supply planning to customer services and back again; whereas in a larger business, your role is likely to be more specialist and streamlined. Are you after the pace and exposure of a start-up, or the specialist approach as part of a larger team?
There are also significant differences in the opportunities available in differently sized businesses. For example, a start-up will often have less ‘red tape’ when it comes to change, progression opportunities, and chances to pick up new skills; your own progression could be accelerated, and you could gain large amounts of responsibility very quickly. On the other hand, larger businesses have the advantage of stability, long term progression, and more comprehensive packages (think bonus, pension, healthcare, inclusive benefits, holidays etc). There is no wrong or right way to go, but these things are probably worth considering when making your applications.
Your CV and your application
Now that you’ve decided what sort of role might be best for you, it is important to make sure that your CV is written in a way that highlights the skillsets that are most valuable in a supply chain role, and also to set yourself up for success in other ways. Consider some of the following…
Relationship management & communication – almost everything in supply chain revolves around internal and external cooperation. When writing your CV, think about any projects, internships, or previous roles you have done and make sure to really bring out the ways in which you have built and managed relationships, whether that is with customers, suppliers, managers, or colleagues. As a bonus point, if you speak any languages, definitely highlight this in your CV – supply chain is international after all!
Excel – there is no way around it. Microsoft Excel is the bread and butter of pretty much every role within supply chain. It is where a vast amount of data is managed, and knowing your way around even the basic functions is an absolute must for a new role in supply chain. If you are not already familiar with it, consider taking a 1-2 week course in order to get up to speed on skills like VLookups, SUMIFs, and Pivot Tables. There are many reasonably priced online courses available that you can do in your own time, and you won’t regret it later!
Projects & achievements – adding extra details on any projects you have taken part in, and any key achievements amongst your previous experiences, is a great way to make your CV and application stand out from the rest, not just when applying for supply chain roles, but for any role at all. If you led a project or have quantifiable achievements such as cost savings or efficiencies that you can discuss, these are great selling points in an interview and will demonstrate autonomy, confidence, and performance under pressure, all of which are key competencies for success in supply chain.
Getting Started: Application avenues and maximising your chances
This section is aimed mainly at those looking for their first jobs after leaving school or university. The “real world” can be a scary place! Consider the following:
Jobs Boards – jobs boards are a quick and easy way of accessing the job market and of advertising your CV and interests in a way that allows recruiters to contact you directly. By filling out a profile, which includes your location and salary expectations, the jobs boards will do a lot of background work on your behalf, and you will find yourself being contacted by recruiters who are interested to speak with you.
Job adverts are also posted on jobs boards. This means that you will be able to use these websites to search and quickly apply for vacancies that interest you. Consider also setting yourself email reminders for new vacancies that fit what you are looking for, so you’re the first to know when they go live! Key jobs boards to look at include Reed, CV Library, Indeed, TotalJobs, and Monster.
LinkedIn – this website will become increasingly useful to you as you start to build a career. If you have just left school or university, there is only so much information that you’ll be able to put into a profile. Nonetheless, an updated LinkedIn profile (with a professional picture!) is another good way to start connecting and networking with recruiters and hiring managers alike. LinkedIn also has a jobs board, so it is well worth keeping tabs on this too.
If you are looking for a role in supply chain as a beginner, please feel free to get in touch with us at Pod!