Supply chain professionals often find that it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd and advance their careers. The job market can be highly competitive in the supply chain sector, which can make it hard for people to get their foot in the door and climb the ladder. So, what can you do to stand out from the crowd in this fast-paced and competitive sector? You can take many steps that should help you get noticed, develop the skills needed to rise to leadership positions, and advance your career. Keep reading for career building tips for supply chain professionals.
1. Develop Leadership Skills
First, if you want to rise to supply chain management positions, then you need to possess and demonstrate leadership skills. It is true that some people seem to naturally be good leaders, but it is possible to learn, so do not be disheartened if you do not possess strong leadership skills. You will find it helpful to carry out online research, read books on leadership and management, learn from historical leaders and take courses that can develop these key skills.
You then need to find ways to demonstrate and sharpen these skills in your daily role. This could include taking the lead on projects, showing initiative at work, and offering support and advice to your colleagues when they need it. Senior management will always notice those that demonstrate leadership potential, so this is an important area to focus on if you want to climb the ladder.
2. Become A Tech Expert
It would help if you certainly had strong leadership and people skills in supply chain management, but you must also know how to utilize the best and latest technology, tools, and software. Supply chains are constantly being changed and improved with new tech developments, so you need to stay abreast of the latest trends and developments so that you can understand how they are used and get to grips with this technology. Currently, a few key types of technology in the supply chain include:
- ERP systems
- Big data
- Cloud computing
- Artificial intelligence
- Internet of things
You need to brush up on all of these technologies and get into the habit of staying current with the latest tech trends and developments. One of the best ways to do this is by reading blogs, listening to podcasts, and reading publications.
3. Understand Economics & Market Dynamics
The supply chain is directly impacted by market dynamics and economies, which means that supply chain managers need to understand this and be able to understand markets and look ahead to how this could impact your own supply chain. COVID-19 is a good example of how external events can impact the supply chain, and, although it was not expected, those that know their industries well have been able to make adjustments and weather the storm for the best part of the pandemic. Every industry is different, so it is important to have a strong understanding of your market and how events could impact demand, supply, and pricing.
4. Develop Business Acumen
Closely linked to this, those who excel in supply chain management are able to see the big picture and understand the overall aims of the organization that they work for. The supply chain is a vital part of the company, and you will be responsible for overseeing the smooth movement of products throughout the production flow, but this is only one cog in a much larger machine. Those that rise to the top in supply chain management understand how a company operates and will be able to take steps within their role to ensure business success. This is why many supply chain managers take a business course as a way to develop business acumen – this can also help your resume to stand out from the crowd.
5. Take A Masters In Supply Chain Management
Another qualification that is highly worthwhile for aspiring supply chain managers is a masters in supply chain management online program. Not only will this look good on your resume, but it will also teach you effective strategies for managing modern-day supply chains. It will also help you to develop many of the key skills that are required to establish yourself as a supply chain leader and stand out in what is becoming a competitive sector. A master’s in supply chain management can help with career development in many areas, including important export, manufacturing, transport, and logistics management. In addition to this, you can find courses that are entirely online, and this can make it much easier to fit your studies into a busy schedule and allows you to start applying what you are learning to your role.
6. Become A Strong Negotiator
One of the key skills that a supply chain manager will need to have is negotiation skills. You will often find that you need to negotiate with those outside of the business, whether brokering deals with suppliers, arranging contracts for logistics servers, or procurement of IT services. This means that you need to know how you can go about getting a good deal while maintaining positive relationships with important individuals and organizations that are linked to your company. Negotiations daunt many people, but it is something that you can learn with research, and then there are many opportunities in life where you can practice what you learn. One of the most important aspects of negotiating that people can benefit from learning is that it should not be viewed as a win or lose, and instead, you should try to find a mutually-beneficial agreement.
7. Improve Your Interpersonal Skills
Supply chain management involves a lot of tech, software, and data. While these are all important areas, you will find that you will not get far in supply chain management without excellent interpersonal and communication skills. This is because you need to support staff and help them to use this technology as a tool. Additionally, supply chain managers need to be able to build and nurture relationships internally and externally, and having strong interpersonal skills will be key for this.
8. Develop A Large Network
As with any line of work, it is helpful to have a large professional network. In competitive sectors like this, knowing the right people will always come in handy, and it could help you to find opportunities that you might otherwise have struggled to find. This is why you should start networking as early as possible and find ways to make contacts within the industry, including attending industry events, making contacts at work, and joining online communities. The internet can be a great tool for expanding your network and keeping in touch with people over time but keep in mind that the best contacts are made face-to-face.
9. Identify & Work On Your Weaknesses
It is also important to indent and work on your weaknesses. In any industry, you will find it hard to climb the ladder and rise to management positions if you have weaknesses that are holding you back. It might be clear and obvious what your weaknesses are, but it is still a good idea to ask for feedback from your manager, colleagues, and anyone else that you work with on a regular basis. In addition to helping you improve, this will also show that you are ambitious and keen to improve your abilities.
10. Create A Strong Resume
In order to climb the ladder in supply chain management, you will need to create a strong resume. As mentioned, it is a competitive job market right now, and this means that it can be hard to stand out and get noticed when applying for roles. It would help if you found ways to make your resume stand out from the crowd and make sure that you are regularly searching for suitable vacancies. You may find it helpful to use a recruitment agency specializing in supply chain jobs that could help you to find the perfect role and help with your application.
11. Work On Your Interview Skills
Following this, you will also want to work on your interview skills when applying for new jobs. This is often the area of job applications that causes the most stress, and it is vital that you know how to interview well if you are to climb the ladder. Preparation is key to success when interviewing, so you should spend time researching the company and position, preparing a few answers for questions that you are likely to face, and have someone that you can run through practice interviews with. If you ever have an interview and do not get the job, be sure to ask for feedback so that you can improve for next time.
These career tips should help any supply chain professional to progress their career and stand out from the crowd. Working in the supply chain can be interesting and rewarding work, but many find it hard to progress, particularly when the job market is competitive.