November 17, 2023

What are the top skills employers seek in supply chain?

I am a regular presenter for supply chain classes at colleges and universities, speaking on the topic of careers in supply chain. One of the most common questions I’m asked by both students and even experienced supply chain professionals is, “what are the top skills in demand for jobs in supply chain?”

Supply chain is a broad field, encompassing a full range of possible career paths in warehousing, transportation, inventory planning and purchasing. It’s a daunting task to identify skills that are in demand across the entire supply chain sector.

However, at SCL Search, we have seen trends in the requests we receive from hiring managers. Through a combination of online research and interviews with supply chain leadership, we have identified seven keys that employers seek for virtually every role in the supply chain sector.

Here are the top seven skills that employers are seeking today:

1. Drive, Initiative
2. Problem Solving
3. Ability to Analyze Data
4. Tech Savvy
5. Relationship Management
6. Communication Skills
7. Commitment to Learning

 

1. Drive, Initiative

Good supply chain leaders are not micro-managers. They don’t like to tell employees what to do and how to do it. The ability to figure out what needs to be done and to then execute with minimal oversight is crucial for success in supply chain, and will lead to rapid promotion.

2. Problem Solving

There’s a quote I once saw on a coffee mug: “Being A Logistics Manager is Easy; It’s Like Riding A Bike. Except The Bike Is On Fire, You’re On Fire, Everything Is On Fire.” If you don’t like to solve problems, and to anticipate problems before they materialize, logistics may not be the right field for you.

3. Ability to Analyze Data

Supply chain is a data-driven world. SCM professionals need to be able to analyze data, identify trends, and solve problems related to supply chain performance, efficiency, and sustainability. They need to use various tools and methods, such as spreadsheets and ERP software, to collect, process, and interpret data from different sources. The ability to extract relevant information from a complex set of data is an important skill, whether you work in warehousing or purchasing, or anything in between.

4. Tech Savvy

Supply chain technology has changed rapidly over the last few years. Artificial Intelligence, warehouse automation, ERP systems, Excel spreadsheets, scanning software, drones; all are key components in how companies manage their supply chains. The better you understand how to utilize technology to improve supply chains, the better your chances of being hired and advancing your supply chain career.

5. Relationship Management

Supply chains professionals need to manage relationships with suppliers and logistics partners, as well as interact with nearly every other department in an organization. A good supply chain leader will actively build relationships with other departments, and will look for ways to improve communication with everyone in the organization.

6. Communication Skills

The ability to communicate your ideas and to listen to others is crucial for success. Supply chains are highly complex, and supply chain professionals need to be able to simplify the supply chain and focus on what’s important.

7. Commitment to Learning

Many of our clients look for a professional supply chain designation or training in project management or six sigma on top of a degree. It’s not just the knowledge gained that is important, it’s the willingness to learn, which is often evidenced by post-secondary education.

There are plenty of other skills that are important for supply chain professionals, depending on which area of supply chain you are looking to develop your career. But we have found that these are the key skills that employers look for across virtually every aspect of supply chain.

If you’re looking to grow your career in supply chain, take a close look at your own skills and key strengths. Do they line up with this list? If not, maybe you should try to develop those skills.

What are your thoughts on this list? Am I missing something? Let me know in the comments. And if you are a logistics superstar who is open to a change please reach out to me, and let’s see if we can help you find that perfect role in supply chain and logistics.

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