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As the global demand for supply chain talent continues to rise, it will become increasingly important for Chief Supply Chain Officers and other supply chain executives to invest more time and energy into their organizations talent acquisition efforts.

As the top supply chain executive at your company, how well do you know the Recruiter tasked with the critical job of identifying and attracting supply chain talent to your organization? Do you provide your Supply Chain Recruiter with a seat at your executive staff meetings or do you prefer to delegate via your subordinates and/or HR partner?

Having worked as a Supply Chain Recruiter for the majority of my two-decade career in staffing, I can attest that the best hiring results are achieved when the top supply chain executive makes it a priority to get closely involved with talent acquisition matters, as opposed to delegating through the management ranks, HR, etc.

If you haven’t taken this initiative yet, you could be missing out on an enormous opportunity to improve recruitment and hiring for your organization, without investing much time, effort or cost.

Here’s a brief case study that describes my experiences working closely with the top supply chain executive at The Home Depot:

In 2001 I accepted a contract recruiting assignment at The Home Depot’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta. Home Depot was a Fortune 13 corporation at the time experiencing phenomenal growth which placed enormous stress on their antiquated supply chain network. The company was well aware that it needed to make some major improvements to its supply chain in order to sustain rapid growth so the idea to form a new strategic supply chain department was born.

Upon starting my recruiting assignment with Home Depot, I was tasked by the SVP of Global Logistics to source external talent for his new supply chain department which consisted of hiring a VP of Supply Chain, Director of Replenishment and eleven senior-level Supply Chain Managers to align with the company’s eleven merchandising categories.

The SVP of Global Logistics was heavily involved with the recruitment efforts for his organization including the project I was hired to support. I had routine meetings with the SVP and other key stakeholders throughout the lifecycle of the project and it ended up being a huge success as we were able to fill all 13 of these newly created positions with high-caliber supply chain talent, without using any outside search firms.

When the project wrapped up, I was asked to stay onboard to handle national supply chain recruitment for the company. In addition, the SVP of Global Logistics insisted that I relocate my office from the remote, bottom-floor corner of the office complex where the Talent Acquisition department was housed to one of the two upper floors that housed the Global Logistics staff.

I continued to work very closely with the SVP and his entire leadership team and had a seat at the supply chain executive table as well, meaning I was invited to participate in their weekly executive staff meetings. This level of partnership and collaboration drove incredible results and within the 2.5 years I served in this role, we brought in a plethora of top-notch supply chain talent that helped drive much-needed improvements throughout the company’s supply chain while cutting millions from the bottom line.

Key benefits gained from me having a seat at the supply chain executive table along with physically sitting with the supply chain business unit:

Proactive vs Reactive Recruitment – Often times Recruiters are the very last to hear about a new job vacancy. This is absolutely unacceptable! Since I was able to participate in the SVP’s weekly executive staff meetings, I received the maximum lead time on all things related to hiring and recruitment such as pending promotions, demotions, terminations, reorgs, downsizings, departmental build-outs, openings of new cross-docks and warehouses, etc. This advanced lead time enabled me to proactively partner with hiring managers and HR managers in efforts to develop recruitment strategies that ultimately sped up the hiring process, improved customer service levels and reduced the overall cost per hire.

Networking & Referrals – Referrals are typically the very best source for quality hires when compared to other sourcing channels such as advertising and job boards, for example. Since I sat with the supply chain department, the process for obtaining referrals was super easy because I knew just about every supply chain employee on a first name basis. One of my core sourcing strategies was to simply walk the halls, knock on doors and ask for referrals. Over time I knew exactly who to turn to for referrals depending on the type of opening I had. It’s not always possible for Supply Chain Recruiters to sit with the business unit so if this is the case, Chief Supply Chain Officers and their direct reports need to proactively engage the Recruiter, and vice versa, in efforts to optimize candidate referral generation.

Supply Chain Talent Scout – As a Chief Supply Chain Officer, wouldn’t you want your leadership team to have access to resumes of the “cream of the crop” supply chain talent, especially from your top competitors? Of course you would! When I participated in weekly supply chain staff meetings at Home Depot, I always strived to make time to share a few resumes of the best supply chain talent I had come across recently. Often times hiring managers would place calls into these candidates to establish a connection and we even hired some of them into future job vacancies.

Knowledge Transfer – When Supply Chain Recruiters are properly armed with the right knowledge of the business, their ability to sell career opportunities and close candidates on offers significantly improves. I was provided with plenty of PowerPoint decks that detailed what the company was doing from a supply chain perspective and gained even more knowledge by sitting in on weekly supply chain staff meetings. When you can confidently speak to candidates about various supply chain initiates that are going on within the company and illustrate how joining the organization would benefit their careers, it’s so much easier to sell candidates on joining the company.

Hiring Status Updates – At each weekly executive staff meeting, I provided both a written and verbal recruiting update to the SVP and his direct reports (several VPs plus the Finance and HR leaders within the BU). If there were any problems associated with recruiting and hiring, we brainstormed and came up with solutions right there on the spot. This also was a great time to go over staffing forecasts, headcount reports, etc.

Market & Competitive Intelligence – Most Recruiters possess strong research and investigative abilities as we’re always combing the internet and working the phones in search of candidates for our job openings. By simply doing our job day in day out, we often times come across market and competitive intelligence that can be of benefit to our company. Again, by giving your Supply Chain Recruiter a seat at the table, you’re putting yourself in a better position for him or her to share data on competitors and keep your team abreast of what’s going on in the market from a real time perspective.

Relationship Building – Last but not least, because the top supply chain executive made it a priority to integrate me (Talent Acquisition) into his business unit, I was able to accelerate relationship building throughout the entire supply chain organization to the point where I felt like I was a member of his team. The key takeaway here is that if you want to maximize the productivity of someone from another business unit that’s critical to the success of your business unit, such as Talent Acquisition for example, simply put forth the effort to make the individual feel like he or she is a part of your team.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss how to strengthen the alignment between your supply chain organization and assigned talent acquisition partner(s).

 

To your success!

Rodney