Entry-Level Demand Planners: What are Hiring Managers Looking for? What are they Paying?

February 23, 2016


Supply Chain talent is in higher demand than ever before. Baby boomers retiring is part of the picture, as is the fact that many young people aren’t aware of the field’s huge potential to drive business strategy, and strong compensation – plus the fact that it’s a much more interesting career than the uninitiated might think. Beyond that, the function itself is changing. It’s becoming more vital to businesses’ competitiveness in the global economy. More is expected of Supply Chain professionals. Whereas Supply Chain professionals used to be tasked with making sure product gets to the right place at the right time, they’re now expected to act strategically and form partnerships across a wide variety of business functions, working with external suppliers to make organizations nimbler, more responsive and flexible.

The upshot of all of this is that good Supply Chain talent is becoming harder to find.

Part of getting young people interested in the Supply Chain field – priming the pump for the next generation of high-performing talent — is making them aware of the often very solid compensation that companies are now offering for entry-level roles in the field.

Take Demand Planning, for example. This is the function within the broader Supply Chain discipline that deals with forecasting sales based on seasonality, economic factors, previous years’ demand, etc. 

One of Argentus’ senior recruiters was on the phone with a contact recently, and this contact provided some market intelligence that a well-known quick service restaurant chain is offering Demand Planners upwards of $55,000 in entry-level compensation just out of university.

Not bad, eh?

Compare that to entry-level accountants earning $47,669 on average, or entry-level sales analysts earning $47,611, and Demand Planning looks like a pretty great place to begin your career.

We reached out to some Supply Chain leaders in our network to ask them about entry-level Demand Planning roles: what they’re paying, and what they’re looking for, in terms of skills background and work history.

What does compensation for entry-level Demand Planners look like at the moment in your organization?

“In general I would see $50-55k right out of school as potentially being on the high side,” says a VP of eCommerce at a major Canadian retailer. “We do pay our junior planners in that range but expect that they’ve had some prior work experience – jobs held during school or one previous full time role perhaps.”

“I’m hiring entry-level Demand Planners at $10-15k more than [$50-55k]” says a Demand Management guru at a major Canadian Food Production firm. “We expect more from employees now. If you want the best, you pay the best, but you expect more.”

What are you looking for when hiring entry-level Demand Planners?

“Turnover is highest in this area among our Supply Chain so pay is important,” says the VP of retail eCommerce. “But mostly it’s because it requires someone to be analytical, as well as highly resilient since forecasting is always wrong and there is constant scrutiny and criticism. [Entry-level Demand Planners] also need to be able to work well with other functions such as sales and merchandising.”

“When hiring entry-level Demand Planners, I’m looking for work ethic, adaptability, and technical ability,” says the Demand Management leader in Food Production. “If anything, we’re experiencing a shortage of talent more so than a lack of supply. Quality, not quantity, is key.”

As this great LinkedIn Publisher post from Dean Salmon puts it:  “A successful Demand Planner exhibits a rare combination of skills in Supply Chain at this level. They are relatively junior candidates who generally have little or no management experience, but are trusted to manage some of the most critical functions of the business. They have excellent communication abilities, not just with their Supply Chain peers, but also with Sales, Marketing, Operations, Product Development, and Customer Service.”

But they can be hard to find. 

If more universities and high schools make students aware of the solid compensation they can get in entry-level Supply Chain roles, it’s a pretty good incentive to get young people involved in the field. In our opinion, it might help change the perception that fields like accounting and engineering are the only path to a great salary right out of the gate. favicon 

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