help wantedThe people who staff various supply chain positions are very different from people in other departments like finance, sales, and even IT because they have different talents specific to their jobs. Really? I don't think that's even close to being the case. And your HR folks would probably be horrified by the notion that you're hiring based on those notions.

Yes, there are certifications and programs offered by technical schools that focus on supply chain capabilities. But in fact so much of supply chain management depends on the specifics of the implementation and the way a particular company manages its processes that beyond the general concepts that make up an understanding of the supply chain, most graduates of these programs are likely to be starting near the same level of competency as a graduate of any other similar specialty.

That's a pretty depressing outlook for both the people working their way through these certifications, and even more so for companies trying to fill the ever expanding gaps in their staffing requirements. Some reports show that there are as many as 6 unfilled jobs for every 1 qualified applicant for supply chain oriented positions. 

An article in DCVelocity quotes that, "The reality is that in supply chain management, so-called "soft skills" are as important as technical know-how. In one recent study, employers said that the most important trait for employees in all professions is a strong work ethic. Other desirable traits included a positive attitude, the ability to communicate verbally and in writing, and being a good team player." I think this is a great general rule for almost any position in any specialty. Having the desire to do a job can make the lack of specific knowledge and experience a small side-note on the hiring authorization.

Still, there are differences between most supply chain jobs and others. Those involved in most all aspects of supply chain function need to be able to work under time pressures, deal with technical problems, work under demanding deadlines, think creatively to solve problems, and sometimes work long hours. But those conditions can be attributed to plenty of positions in other fields. The difference between an employee who makes a success of their job and one who bails, is their attitude and ability to adapt.

So how do we fill those other 5 supply chain jobs that are still open? Look past the work experience and deeper into the person's abilities. In fact, it may be appropriate to look for talented people in other parts of your organization. Finding someone who understands the company, its mission and culture may be a better head start than nabbing that experienced supply chain employee and assimilating them into your organization.
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