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The supply chain was, until recently, an afterthought in most major organizations. As long as goods were getting where needed and production could keep running there wasn’t much incentive to invest in the supply chain. All of that changed when supply chain issues were thrust into the spotlight and no one had good answers for “Why is nothing here?” Supply chain departments suddenly were getting the ability to hire the people they so desperately needed.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the U.S. Supply chain accounts for 37% of all domestic jobs. That's a substantial chunk of the overall domestic job count for one industry to have. Not only is the supply chain the reason for a majority of jobs in the U.S. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the industry itself will grow 4% year-over-year through 2029.
For an industry getting the ability to hire more people and see strong job growth along with it, what does a career in that field look like? Some of the possible routes to take are as followed.
The most common jobs in the supply chain. These positions are the most common way people find themselves getting into the supply chain. Operations support is more often than not considered an entry-level position. Filled by someone who is new to the industry and learning about logistics on the job. Day-to-day tasks in this role will look like scheduling appointments, ensuring on-time pickup and delivery, building relationships with carriers, and most importantly track and trace all loads so shippers know where their freight is.
Freight brokers or carrier sales reps are similar to operations support but not quite the same. Carrier sales reps' main priorities are to book freight and build relationships with carrier partners. This role typically comes with an additional commission and bonus structure that other positions don’t have.
If talking to people and building relationships with carrier partners isn’t the dream then perhaps moving into the IT world and system integrations is a better choice.
The entire supply chain and logistics space is going through a technological revolution at warp speed. Less than ten years ago shippers were faxing bills of lading to carriers. Now there are apps and TMS software that handles it all. These applications need to be built, managed, and improved upon constantly to maintain visibility and reliability to shipper partners.
These solution architects lead the discovery phase to figure out what went wrong, what is going well, and what can be improved upon. From there they craft a roadmap that everyone can follow to ensure success for everyone involved in the project. Day-to-day responsibilities in this role will look like meeting with developers and key stakeholders to identify and address key problem areas and develop solutions to fix them.
In the constant battle for which position is the most important in the supply chain, there is the sales team. The sales team typically brings in shippers, accounts, carriers, and just about anything else that makes the company money. Sales generally are paid on commission and the person may or may not have industry knowledge. This largely depends on if they’re coming from another industry or were promoted from within the company.
Sales is not easy. People in this position face a lot of rejection daily through cold calls and customers that weren’t a good fit. Day-to-day in this position relies heavily on relationship building and partnerships, phone calls, and meetings to gauge a prospect's happiness and willingness to close on a deal.
It’s more than just selling someone a product or a service, it’s about making sure that the good or service being sold benefits them and can be of use long-term so that relationship can grow and develop.
While sales executives might be the ones closing the deals there are commonly business development representatives that are doing the heavy lifting, and cold calling to turn warm leads over to the sales exec.
In regards to transportation and logistics, these positions are more often than not lumped together. The pricing team’s day-to-day work will include running requests for proposal bids and entering pricing into the TMS. It generally also includes anything else that has to do with the actual pricing of freight or transportation services.
On the other hand, procurement teams procure what is needed to keep the company running. Whether it’s materials to keep production lines running, carriers to haul finished goods, all the way down to hired services to keep the building running. It’s all on the procurement team. Crafting and maintaining relationships is paramount in these positions as that could be the difference between getting something with priority or being shoved to the back of the line.
Last but not least, the supply chain manager. The person whose job it is to manage all of the components of the supply chain. Everything from warehouse operations to financials in the back office. Titles may change from company to company but the SCM is primarily responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company. This person keeps the organization's supply chain running.
Everything from conducting audits on inventory, invoicing, and procedures, to being the one motivating employees towards one common goal. There is no typical day in this position as every day brings a new challenge.
First of all, not all companies are created equal. Just like outside the supply chain, there are companies that could be better to work for. Meaning their benefits packages might not include sick time, minimal PTO, less than the industry average for pay, and a whole other host of issues. It’s important to know what benefits, outside of financial compensation, a company is providing their employees. Especially when it’s a strong offering.
Companies not forthcoming with that information might warrant a deeper investigation as to why benefits are kept under lock and key. LinkedIn posts and messages are great for getting unfiltered responses to that question.
Think a life of supply chain and logistics is right for you? If you love a fast-paced environment where every day can and will be different head over to our career page to see if something might be up your alley. If nothing strikes your fancy, maybe we haven’t thought of it yet, in which case send in your resume and drop us a line with the next best idea.