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What Hiring Managers are Looking for Today

Which skills and competencies are hiring managers emphasizing in their job openings today? How well are the universities preparing students for a career in logistics and supply chain management? A new survey from SCMR and Logistics Management reveals some of the answers.
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By Bridget McCrea, Contributing Editor
January 23, 2012

To gain a better understanding of what hiring managers think about today’s supply chain and logistics curriculum and educational programs, Supply Chain Management Review and Logistics Management surveyed their readers. The information gathered was used to develop this first annual Hiring Managers’ Evaluation of Universities’ Supply Chain and Logistics Curriculum report.

Conducted by Peerless Media Research Group on behalf of the magazines, the survey looked closely at some of the key issues and trends taking place within the supply chain hiring space right now. When asked whether they had filled any job positions within the last 12 months, or if they were looking to fill any in the upcoming year, fully three quarters of the readers responded affirmatively—a positive economic indicator. The most popular positions that companies are looking to fill included logistics staff positions, supply chain analysts, planner/forecasting professionals, and warehouse/DC workers.

Education and the Skills Needed to Succeed in Today’s Supply Chain
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 | 2:00 p.m. EST
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Eighty-two percent of hiring managers said that they have interviewed and hired recent college graduates or are planning to do so. In terms of education levels, the great majority (82 percent) said they were considering candidates with undergraduate degrees, as opposed to advanced degrees. When assessing the competencies that those graduates bring to the table, 69 percent of respondents said that the new and potential hires were best prepared in problem-solving skills. Fifty-eight percent said communication skills were a strong point while 40 percent felt college grads had good IT knowledge.

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Hands-On Experience Wanted
At paper distribution firm xpedx in Tampa, Fla., Logistics Manager Bessie McAdams says she’s seen a steady stream of qualified applicants over the last year or so, thanks in large part to the tight job market. When hiring new personnel, she likes to see a mix of educational background and hands-on experience, acknowledging that the latter can prove elusive in the hiring of new graduates.

In particular, McAdams says new hires that either already know how to use the warehouse and logistics equipment—or that are willing to learn it quickly—often make the best managers. “After all, how can you supervise a group of warehouse workers if you don’t know how to use the equipment yourself?” asks McAdams. The manager expects to shift into hiring mode again in early 2012 when xpedx expands its operations into a new area of the state.

Like McAdams, most logistics managers seek out specific skill sets and experience when bringing new graduates onboard. Fifty-eight percent said they want someone with strong communication skills; 40 percent are looking for candidates who are knowledgeable in the latest technologies; 35 percent want relevant technical training; and 33 percent perk up when someone demonstrates some knowledge of industry trends.

When conducting interviews with potential employees, the hiring managers surveyed tend to look for a few specific traits. Eighteen percent said they like to see “confidence, but not arrogance,” with another 18 percent impressed by enthusiasm. Thirteen percent like to see solid communication/interpersonal skills; 12 percent want analytical skills and critical thinking; and 8 percent are seeking candidates with at least some understanding of supply chain basics.

The survey also looked at how well supply chain education prepares job candidates for day-to-day supply chain work. Nine percent said extremely well; 41 percent very well; and 45 percent somewhat. “The industry is complex and fundamentals will enable better growth potential as well as future capability,” wrote one respondent. (Exhibit 1 gives a breakdown of how well candidates are prepared in specific competency areas.)

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About the Author

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Bridget McCrea
Contributing Editor
Bridget McCrea is a Contributing Editor for Supply Chain Management Review based in Clearwater, Fla. She has covered the transportation and supply chain space since 1996, and has covered all aspects of the industry for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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