Argentus Contributes Predictions for the Supply Chain Talent Market in 2018

January 16, 2018


As recruiters focused on the fast-rising field of Supply Chain Management, we’re always happy at Argentus to speak about the state of the industry for whoever’s listening. Recently, we were contacted by Bob Ferrari, a corporate strategist and consultant and proprietor of the influential blog Supply Chain Matters. Every year since 2008, Mr. Ferrari has interviewed thought leaders from across the Supply Chain industry for predictions about the field writ large. The predictions include every topic from the global economic picture, to commodity and freight costs, to technological changes, to – most relevant to us – the talent market and how companies are adapting when looking to hire.

This year’s 10 predictions ran the gamut from how America’s changing trade policies will impact manufacturing, to how the ongoing eCommerce transformation will cause upheaval in the retail industry, and more. On the talent end, Argentus’ President Bronwen Hann spoke to Bob about the increasingly-difficult search for Supply Chain talent, and how companies will respond in 2018.

The main takeaway: in 2017, we predicted that the ongoing retirement of baby boomers, combined with companies’ heightened skill expectations for Supply Chain professionals, would lead to a “perfect storm for Supply Chain talent” as companies found it more difficult to hire – with hiring only becoming more difficult at the more senior leadership end of the spectrum. In 2018, Bronwen doubled down on that prediction, as a rapidly-improving economy makes great Supply Chain professionals harder to find than ever before.

Mr. Ferrari also interviewed Rodney Apple, Managing Partner at SCM Talent Group and Jason Breault, Managing Director at LifeWork Search about hiring predictions in Supply Chain as the New Year begins to head into full swing. Here were some of the other predictions and observations:

  • Companies advertising for Supply Chain positions need to adopt better employer marketing, and include solid branding, compelling content and articulation of benefits when advertising for open positions.


  • In an environment of almost full employment, it’s getting harder and harder to pry top talent from their jobs, but many companies are still hiring like they were during the recession and post-2009 recovery period. Hiring managers can’t assume that candidates will want to work for them just because they’re offering a job. Instead, they need to think big picture about what will attract passive candidates including competitive compensation and explicitly-articulated work/life balance and work from home policies.


  • But companies shouldn’t despair about this competitive environment: Breault notices that candidates tend to have lower salary expectations if companies go above and beyond when it comes to work-life balance.


  • Supply Chain Management is changing, but the old guard still has something to offer: as the “baby boomer generation” continues to retire, more companies are adding these skilled professionals to their ranks as part-time/contingent employees with lots to teach the new generation.


  • In 2017, the industry began to take efforts to address the talent shortage by reaching out to colleges and universities and increasing educational opportunities in the field, and this is set to continue ramping up in 2018.


  • In-demand skills include: analytics and data management, as well as experience leading and supporting business and digital Supply Chain transformations.


  • Retailers in particular will continue to highly value omnichannel retail experience, especially from companies like Ebay, Amazon and Walmart, however many of those retailers are insisting on non-compete clauses for former employees that are stymieing competitors’ efforts to attract talent from those companies.


  • All the experts interviewed predicted that companies will focus more on employee retention and skills development. They suggested that these responsibilities – as well as hiring – should be managed and promoted by senior business leadership as well as HR departments.

Bob’s blog is one of the longest-standing and most influential in the business, so we’re always excited to contribute and share our perspective. We encourage you to check out some of his other posts as well for some high-level insight about the state of the market.

And let us know in the comments: do these predictions align with how your organization is lining up its Supply Chain talent picture for 2018? We’re interested in hearing about all angles of this issue! 


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