Tag Archives: career tips

5 Favourite Supply Chain Job Interview Questions… And Answers

There is no limit to the types of questions that can be asked at an interview for a mid-level role in supply chain management (SCM).  We have selected five of our favourites which come up regularly…

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There is no limit to the types of questions that can be asked at an interview for a mid-level role in supply chain management (SCM).  We have selected five of our favourites which come up regularly but first, let’s pause for thought about what employers are looking for and why.    

Supply chain careers of the future

According to Unilever, a big global employer with complex supply chains, future opportunities are in:

  • Manufacturing
  • Data analysis 
  • Procurement
  • Transportation
  • Customer service

The accepted way top employers assess your specific skills and technical competencies and your future potential is by conducting a behavioural based interview.  You may be asked to describe situations or tasks you were involved in, your exact role and the results.  They may say “tell me about a time when ………” The skill here is to steer the answers to the best work you have done. Aim to demonstrate how you understand the challenges of today’s complex supply chains, especially theirs. This should lead the interviewers to outline their current problem areas. 

What competencies are employers looking for?  

Problem-Solving

Day-to-day supply chain management involves facing unexpected problems, failures and disruptions. Interviewers need to find out if candidates can identify issues and establish root causes. You may be asked to explain how you resolved types of situations or if you did not, what lessons you learned.

Analytical Skills

To stay competitive companies have to find ways to reduce costs, move goods more quickly and manage supporting operations. You will need to demonstrate your ability to find solutions and implement process improvements using available data.

Communication

Interviewers want to know how you can manage difficult situations such as an angry customer or unhappy service provider.  They will try and establish whether there is likely to be a communication barrier between you and others, both internally and externally.

Global Perspective

Businesses are becoming increasingly global; online connectivity is available 24/7. Interviewers are likely to try to establish your grasp of economics, cultural differences and current world events that may impact their business. 

Five favourite supply chain interview questions

Q1. What is supply chain management? or  What are the key elements of supply chain management?

A.   There is no one correct answer. Basically, the purpose of SCM is to make goods or services readily available to fulfil customer demand. One possible answer is “supply chain management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all logistics management activities.” (CSCMP’s definition). Consider adapting your answer to suit the employer; its business may be more involved in services than goods.   

Q.2  What experience can you bring this role?

A.   This is where you can shine. Using what you know from the job specification, be prepared to explain what you have achieved in similar circumstances.  .The key is to be specific and factual when describing projects. Include actual values such as savings achieved, processes improved and size of teams. Go on to describe how these project s benefitted your employer.  Interviewers use the STAR technique:

  • SITUATION  you were in
  • TASK performed
  • ACTION you took
  • RESULT of this activity.

Important: do not overstate your level of experience. It is possible that the interview will dig deep. 

Q 3 How can you add value to our business?

A.  Your research into the current financial and operational status of the company and its place in the market is useful here. Listen carefully to any additional information the interviewer gives you on what’s important to them so that you can respond directly to their problem areas in the supply chain.  Explain about your ability to use the new tools and technologies available, how you would improve supplier relationships and what you would do to save them money, (e.g. reduce inventory, eliminate wastage, procure better).  The aim is to demonstrate your understanding of the role on offer and how you are a perfect fit for their needs.

Q.4 How much do you know about our company and our supply chain?

A.  Organizations expect you to know what they do, where they fit into their industry hierarchy and who their main competitors are. You have to demonstrate that you have done the required homework. They may ask for example: “what do you know about our products and services” or “what is our approach to sustainability?” Fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers and retailers are particularly expert at this. Interviewees at L’Oréal and Diageo have been asked for detail about product ranges, customer bases and global sales figures.

Q.5 How are you keeping up with the new developments in supply chain management?  

A.  Explainwhat you are actively doing to understand the new developments in processes and technology, especially as it affects their operations. However, be honest and realistic when you express how you will use this new knowledge to further their goals. The interviewer is trying to assess your future potential. Consider your answer to an imaginary question such “ what do you think we can do to improve our supply chain agility?”

A hot tip

Many inexperienced interviewers ask silly and irrelevant questions. Some questions are just pointless such as “what is your greatest weakness?” or “how would you describe yourself in three words?”  Read up on these inane questions beforehand and be prepared to address them with stock answers.

At the end of the interview

Ask questions about any areas that you feel have not been adequately covered to your satisfaction. Remember, they may be interviewing you but you are also considering whether you want to work for them. After thanking the interviewer, ask about the next steps in the process and a possible time frame for an offer. This is the point at which you have the opportunity to close the deal. 

If you’d like to read additional related content or get involved with thought provoking discussions check out the Supply Chain Pros group – a one stop shop for all your supply chain needs.

Competence Is Context Dependant

It’s easy to associate competence with job titles in a generic sense. However, given people’s performance will depend on the context in which they operate, all notions of competence should take context into account…


By mavo / Shutterstock

The same, but different

Is a graphic designer at a major accounting firm the same job as a graphic designer at an early-stage startup? There is an obvious overlap is functional skills, but that’s where the similarity ends. 

A designer at startup will have limited resources and even less time. They’ll be required to “ship fast” because the clock is ticking and everything is an experiment. Management will have a relatively high tolerance for mistakes, and decisions will be made on the spot. 

Conversely, a large accounting firm will be far less tolerant of risk, decisions are made by committee, perfection will be prioritized over speed and autonomy will likely be low. 

How similar do these roles sound now?

While the fundamental craft is essentially the same, the context is entirely different. Success is measured differently, and the respective operating environments have very little in common.

Context is everything

It follows that the best person to do the job at the accounting firm is probably not the best person to do the job at the startup. In come cases the same person might be able to excel at both roles, but they’ll need to apply themselves and behave quite differently. 

This means that competence is dependent on context, something James Clear emphasizes in his book Atomic Habits

There is no such thing is a “good graphic designer”. Rather, there is a good graphic designer in your particular context. That context might be unique to your company, or it might be broadly applicable to companies in your industry or of a similar size, for example.   

This is a departure from the way many companies, and indeed many talent acquisition professionals, think about competency frameworks. It’s easy to associate competence with job titles in a generic sense. However, given people’s performance will depend on the context in which they operate, all notions of competence should take context into account.

How to build context into your recruitment process

When filling a role, it’s important to think of what it takes to be successful in that role at your company. It’s helpful to divide the requirements into two components. The first is the skills that are specific to the role itself and would likely be required in any context. In other words, what does the person in the role need to achieve? The second component is the skills that are unique to your context. In other words, how do you expect the person to approach their role? This can include cultural aspects, attitude, behavior and so on.

The next step is to come up with a way to test candidates for those skills. Following this logic, a generic “graphic designer test” doesn’t make much sense because it only addresses the first component. In order to identify someone who will excel in a role in your context, the test must take into account both components. It must be context-dependent because competence is dependent on context. 

Thinking about candidate selection in this way will help you identify people who are more likely to be successful in your environment. This makes sense because it’s also unlikely that the people who want to work at a startup will also want to work at major accounting firms, and visa versa.

This article was originally published on Vervoe.

Could A Selfie Save Your Sanity?

A greater understanding of what makes you tick could be the route to a more fulfilling career – and if you are stuck in a rut and can’t move roles, then forget EQ and IQ, learn to boost your PI (physical intelligence). The future is all about understanding and nurturing your self.

By AlessandroBiascioli/ Shutterstock

As a nation we have become paralysed by political uncertainty.

These turbulent times are leaving us trapped. While half of us say we would like to change careers, only one in six are brave enough to make the move, according to recruiters Michael Page.

So, don’t just sit there waiting for things to get better.

Now is the perfect time for a bit of self-reflection.

We spend so much of our lives at work, getting to and from work and then thinking about work, it is important that whatever you do works for your personality type.

Many of us crave jobs which are more fulfilling, more aligned to our values and ones that build or self-worth rather than knocking it.

But how do you really know what makes you tick, if you don’t take a good look at what motivates you?

The answer is a psychometric selfie.

Find out why you do what you do

Michael Page has partnered with FindMyWhy (findmywhy.com) to help you find out more about yourself.

Complete the online questionnaire (be prepared for around 30 minutes of self-reflection) and a tailored psychometric report will reveal some telling insights.  It is important to be honest. That way you will gain most from the advice.

The selfie does more than just match your skills set to new roles.

It highlights your weaknesses to – and this could really transform the way you see yourself.

The good the bad and the potentially ugly

Most of us know what we are good at, but these strengths can also work against us.

Take a team-player as an example.

If you are someone who likes working in collaboration with others, the mutual supported of colleagues and coordinating your efforts with others to get things done, you probably think you have the perfect personality to succeed in your career.

However, what happens when you are faced with conflict or colleagues who work against each other? How do you feel when others are highly critical of you or the team? And how do you feel when you are required to engage with less collegiate colleagues?

Finding yourself in the wrong working environment could leave you less motivated and disengaged.  In fact, your team-player skills set could work against you.

The Me at Work report is a great way to learn more about the potential pitfalls that could trip you up professionally and perhaps the most telling part of the report is the “So what might stop me” section. It is important to avoid self-sabotage.

Build resilience through physical intelligence

While the FindMyWhy may help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and the things to look for in a new role, you may still find that work can cause stress, drain energy and challenge your ability to remain positive (even if you love what you do).

That is why – in addition to being more self aware – you should look at how to be more physically intelligent. This is the ability to detect and actively manage the balance of chemicals (hormones and neurotransmitters) racing through our bloodstreams (through how we breathe, move, think and communicate) in order to reduce work stress, boost energy and kickstart positivity. 

A new wellbeing book by Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton called Physical Intelligence available in ebook and paperback looks at the strategies we can all adopt to do this.

These are Dale and Peyton’s top 11 physical intelligence tricks to help you become happier at work.

Reduce Work Stress

  1. Ground Yourself:  Being grounded increases emotional/mental stability, confidence and inner strength. To ‘ground’ yourself, feel your feet on the ground/bottom in the chair and the weight of your body distributed through your skeleton down into the ground – rooted rather than ‘uptight.’
  2. Just Breathe:  Managing your breath pattern is THE key to stabilising the nervous system and managing our physical response to stress. Pace your breathing (e.g., 3 counts in, 5 counts out), with longer out breaths, expelling carbon dioxide that settles in our lungs and increases cortisol (stress hormone).
  3. Focus on Fitness:  Regular exercise is important, elevating our heart rate at least 3 times a day. Otherwise, the parasympathetic nervous system will be too sluggish for us to rebalance when we encounter stress, and if we encounter multiple stressors, we’ll likely feel overloaded.
  4. Talk It Out:  Stress builds through a lack of control, rumination and difficulty deciding on actions. Verbalising stressors removes their charge. Getting advice helps us process and learn from what is happening. Reaching out to a trusted network of supporters boosts oxytocin (belonging hormone), released through non-aggressive, honest, human contact.

Boost Energy

  1. Take a Cold Shower: Turning the water to cold for the last thirty seconds or splashing ice-cold water on our face enhances brain function, improving energy gain.
  2. REST:  To avoid burnout, balance pushing yourself hard with periods for rest and recovery.  Block time in your schedule each week for ‘REST’ (retreat, eat [healthy], sleep and treat) and guard those windows.
  3. Get Some Sleep: Sleep has a bigger impact on our mental, emotional and physical performance than any waking activity. When we sleep, we consolidate memories and experiences, detox the brain of waste products and regenerate brain cells. This makes a profound difference to our daily performance, enabling us to think clearly and deeply, focus well and handle multiple challenges with ease. Aim for that magic minimum of seven hours through naps, proxy sleeps and going to bed even a few minutes earlier each night.

Kickstart Positivity

  1. Smile:  Smiling at yourself in the mirror boosts serotonin (happiness).
  2. Jump:  Literally jump for joy – it promotes optimism.
  3. Bounce Positive:  Apply a learning mindset to setbacks/mistakes.  If you’re dwelling on something, talk to someone you trust about it, then commit to letting it go.
  4. Strengthen Interpersonal Relationships:  Balance your own agenda with those of others, communicate well and flex your behavioural style, creating the chemistry of trust – balancing oxytocin (social bonding/trust), dopamine (goal-orientation/seeking and gaining reward), and testosterone (independent competitive action), while managing cortisol (stress).

The more we use physical intelligence techniques, the better armed we will be to achieve business success. Why not give it a try?

If Teams Become Self-directed, What’s Left For The Managers To Do?

How do you enable and oversee without having control and visibility? This is the challenge of leadership and focusing on adopting or refining these three key attributes will help get you on the right path…

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We have all heard the words and most probably used them ourselves many times over; Empowered, autonomous, self directed. Thousands of articles, publications, books, podcasts and yes, even blogs have been written about the power of enabling this type of cultural environment. And to help us get there, we have a plethora of insights, tips, roadmaps and strategies to make sure we can navigate our path through this organisational utopia. It’s how we all want to work, and how we want our teams to operate.

Despite this consensus it remains a challenge for many organisations who are struggling to find the balance between the what of the work that needs to be done, and the how which determines the way in which it actually gets done. Why exactly is this the case? With all of the research backing it up, this should be a no-brainer to want to do, and with all of the practical guides available, it should be a matter of simply applying and executing to get it done. However, given the human element, it is never quite that easy or simple and that accounts for organisations and managers who have tried and not been successful, or have chosen to not try at all.

It could be argued that if we all want to work in that way, enabling others to do so is the not only logical but also effective. But words do mean different things to different people and sometimes depending on the context, the same words also mean different things to the same people. If we can have alternative facts, we can surely have alternative interpretation. A google search of the word empowerment returns over 293 million results. Self directed tops that with 438 million. I am pretty confident in my assumption that while results may be similar, they will not all be consistent. With that in mind, the challenge can start early, because what we need to understand is that while the intent is there, that in itself may not be enough. It needs to be the right intent and the right execution, to deliver the right outcome.

Irrespective of where you are within the organisational hierarchy there is always someone in a position to direct your focus, priorities and actions.  What tends to be different is the level of direction and who the messages are coming from. In typical, traditional structures, decision making and direction tends to be determined by functional role and reporting lines. In organisations that have transformed to respond to digital challenges, are working with Agile or for digital natives, that may be more a function of expertise and specific project engagement. Notwithstanding that, even CEOs have boards to answer to, and boards in turn have shareholders to answer to. While we have seen many recent examples around the world of interference, lack of probity, and good governance in organisations and government, oversight, direction, external perspective are important foundations for effective operation.  And that in itself can become a derailing factor for many. Because how do you enable and oversee without having control and visibility?

This is the challenge of leadership and focusing on adopting or refining three key attributes will help get you on the right path:

1. Understand and embrace risk

This is not about ignoring what is known to create a problem. Organisations need to be confident in their ability to get good outcomes in the right way without careening towards a disaster that could have easily been avoided or mitigated. The risk for many in stepping away from decision making and allowing individuals and teams to make their own decisions in relation to what is done, is problematic.  It can be seen as a leadership failure; that we somehow didn’t “own the problem”, or didn’t “step up to the plate”. Life, much less work situations are never really that simple. And enabling self directed teams is not an abdication of leadership responsibility. There are so many factors to consider including the information that was available at the time. It can also come down to a question of trust in that person as much as trust in our own judgement. It sometimes involves letting others find their own way, even if we know that it may not be the best way, or more pointedly, the way we would have done it. And equally important, it also comes down to assessing the consequence of things going awry and adding that to the factors determining whether the risk is acceptable in the context.

2. Understand capability

Applying equally to ourselves and our teams, the capability question is an important one. And a fundamental attribute of leading is assessing strengths as well as development needs in individuals and responding by making time and offering enablement to help those individuals build on their strengths and improve in areas that may need more attention. It takes time to actually spend time working on ourselves and helping others who are looking for development and improvement. In a choice between a meeting with an agenda focused on task allocation versus a meeting to develop and discuss development plans and progress, there is little question of which one would produce the more engaged employee. And with enthusiasm being contagious, it’s not a bad outcome for the rest of the team or client either.

3. Create a learning environment

Every organisation is in the process of either considering a transformation or has begun one. In the digital world, we have only started to explore the impact of the fourth industrial revolution and others are already speaking of the fifth (a great topic for another blog!) It is hard to keep up with all of the business-as-usual activities, much less everything else that is now an expectation; new projects, external research, feedback loops, workshops, to name just a few. Enabling teams and individuals with the opportunity to manage their own work and themselves to the extent that works for them and the organisation gives them a chance to learn through practical means, by hearing about the experiences of others, and in turn sharing their own stories. It fosters trust in the culture of the team and the organisation and a willingness to go beyond the simple instruction that they would have otherwise been given. Diversity. Creativity. Productivity. They can all thrive in this environment when leaders understand the opportunity of truly leading.

The One Thing You Should Be Doing To Boost Your Career This Year

Nearly 50 per cent of workers are making “learning new skills” a priority right now, ahead of both a pay rise and a promotion…

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Forget pushing for that promotion. Don’t waste too much time looking for a new role. And leave lusting after a new job title for now. Instead, focus on your skills.

“Skills” have traditionally been viewed as something for the trades – those who chose a more hands-on career pathway, rather than one that needed academic qualifications.

While we all appreciate the talent of hairdressers, plumbers, motor mechanics and a host of other vitally-important skilled tradespeople, this year skills have taken on a new meaning.

One of the top workplace trends for 2019 is “Skill signalling”.

There is added emphasis on highlighting the skills that set you apart from the competition according to recruiters Robert Half.

This could be your digital literacy – such as working with artificial intelligence – or softer skills such as communications and problem-solving abilities.

Basically, anything that can help you to stand out from the crowd.

No. 1 aim is to learn new skills

This is something you should take seriously, or you could get left behind.

Nearly 50 per cent of workers are making “learning new skills” a priority right now, ahead of both a pay rise and a promotion, according to research from CV-Library.

However, you might have to acquire these outside of the office as two-thirds of us say our employer isn’t responsive to our needs.

Also, much of the employer training on offer is a waste of time and money.  Research shows that of the $400billion spent on corporate learning globally every year, only 15% is proven to really work.

Top 10 career priorities for 2019

  1. Learn new skills (44.6%)
  2. Get a pay rise (43.5%)
  3. Move to another company (40.1%)
  4. Gain a new qualification (24.3%)
  5. Get a new job title (22.7%)
  6. Change job roles (19.7%)
  7. Get a promotion (17.2%)
  8. Change industries (13.1%)
  9. Work for themselves (12.4%)
  10. Build a personal network (8.9%)

Source: CV-Library

So, what are the skills of the future

What should you be learning? Well, employability skills are key – according to Hogan Assessments, the global leader in personality assessment solutions, these are defined as “the ability to find a job, the ability to retain it, and the ability to find a new job should the first one go away”.  There are three components:

  • People Skills – getting along well with others and working well in teams. People who score high on this skill seem friendly, pleasant and helpful.
  • Learning Skills – learning the essential functions of the job and acquiring new skills as the job changes over time. Individuals with learning skills are likely to be bright, curious, and motivated to learn.
  • Work Ethic – taking instruction, working hard, and producing high-quality results in a timely fashion. Employees with good work ethic are hardworking, productive and dependable.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a fortune and take a year or two out of work to study an MBA or master’s to gain these skills.

However, the bad news is that you are often either naturally good at these – or not.

Tips

  • Do a 360 exercise with friends, family and colleagues to get a view of how you score on these points.
  • Find a mentor to help you work on these skills – for example listening and reflecting. Choose someone you trust within your organisation, or find a mentor externally (someone you already know, respect, get along with and want to be like).
  • Try to demonstrate these skills on a daily basis – work on them, and you will improve.

Decide to specialise or generalise

The future workplace will be made up of two types According to the Future of the Workplace 2030+ report from Unily.

Expert Generalists who can transfer skills and see the bigger picture necessary to drive the ideas economy.

Hyper Specialists who are more operational, can dive deep for solutions are equipped to understand details and specifics.

Once again, these skills are often innate. Some of us are brilliant when it comes to attention to detail, but find it hard to be adaptable. Choose your path depending on your personality type.

Whichever path you choose, you will need to work on these skills:

  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking

In a time of constant change, the skill or trait that will help you get ahead is being able to deal with change.  

The No. 1 personality trait you need right now

As a result, resilience is one of the key skills employers will be helping their staff to develop over the next few years.

However, you can develop this skill yourself by nurturing your own physical and mental wellbeing, which can help you to stay positive and cope with the ever faster-changing world of work.

This is also a key skill to highlight on your CV: it is one of the things employers will be looking for. So try to find ways to demonstrate your ability to “bounce back” from adversity and to deal with change.

If you don’t ask you don’t get

Boosting your skills can boost your performance as well as your life-long career prospects.

“Learning new skills is an excellent way to secure yourself more opportunities and a better paid job down the line,” says Lee Biggins, CEO of CV-Library.

So, how do you go about investing in your own success?

  • Identify the skills you need to work on or develop.
  • Look for ways to develop these (note: this is unlikely to be in a classroom).
  • Ask your boss to support your skills development  – whether that is giving you time off to attend seminars, conferences, lectures or to work one-on-one with a mentor or on new projects to develop new skills.
  • Make it a lifelong journey – skills need constant development.

Learning to learn – that’s the no.1 skill

“The future discussion will not be about reskilling or upskilling but ‘learning to learn’” according to the Unily Future of the Workplace Report which says:

Being comfortable acquiring new knowledge is a skill in its own right.

To become a continual learner, you will need to learn to

  • Take risks
  • Experiment
  • Adapt

… and challenge yourself to disrupt and do things differently.

George Clooney Is Not The Only One In A Catch 22 – Jobseekers Are Too

While nearly nine in ten UK professionals are considering moving jobs right now, according to CV-Library, many are doing nothing about bagging themselves a better paying job.

By Denis Makarenko/ Shutterstock

You want to earn more. (Who doesn’t?)

But the only way to get a significant pay rise is to move jobs.

However, that is risky – what if it doesn’t work out?

Also, there’s a lot of competition.

So even after all the hard work of looking around for a new role, you might be left disappointed.

And if your current boss finds out you are applying elsewhere… well, that might not reflect well on you.

It’s a paradox – a Catch 22 – with seemingly no escape.

We’re feeling trapped

So, while nearly nine in ten UK professionals are considering moving jobs right now, according to CV-Library, many are doing nothing about bagging themselves a better paying job.

Just under six in ten say they aren’t doing so because they believe the salaries on offer aren’t high enough. Although they might be wrong on that score (it’s often hard to find out what you could get paid, unless you apply and get an interview).

In addition, around three in ten are stuck where they are because they don’t feel confident enough to apply for a new role – with younger employees worried they don’t have enough experienced.

The pay paradox

Yet, those who are brave enough to take a risk and jump ship should reap the rewards.

Pay is on the up – by 3.4 per cent – on average for all UK employees. So, it’s great that most people are enjoying above inflation pay rises.

However, if you look for a new role you should be able to earn more.

Talent shortages mean that pay rises for new jobs are 5.8 per cent higher than a year ago with new recruits are seeing higher salary hikes than existing hires.

Much depends on where you live.

Certain UK cities are witnessing well above-average growth in pay for advertised roles.

            Top cities for highest annual hikes in advertised salaries

  1. London – pay up by 16.1 per cent
  2. Hull – pay up by 15.8 per cent
  3. Edinburgh – pay up by 12.8 per cent
  4. Portsmouth – pay up by 10.7 per cent
  5. Nottingham – pay up by 9.5 per cent

Competition is hotting up

So, firms are so desperate for the right candidate they are having to up their advertised salaries significantly. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that everyone else is beginning to get the same message.

As a result the number of job applications is soaring in many cities according to CV-Library.

            Biggest jump in job applications year-on-year

  1. Bristol 27.2 per cent
  2. Brighton 22.1 per cent
  3. Edinburgh 20 per cent
  4. Manchester 19.7 per cent
  5. London 19.6 per cent

Hiring is slipping

Brexit is taking its toll – with many firms adopting a wait-and-see approach. As a result, there has been a 3 per cent drop in the number of job vacancies year-on-year according to CV-Library.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) UK Report on Jobs, produced with KMPG, has been tracking this trend.

The number of people placed into permanent job roles has fallen in four out of the past five months and the growth in vacancies hit an 80-month low in April (rising slightly in May – but still subdued).

Once again, much depends on where you live. The Midlands has been seeing permanent staff appointments decline while the North has seen them increase.

            So what does this mean?

More candidates + less vacancies = tougher competition.

Time to be more Clooney

So how do you become the George Clooney of jobseekers – standing out above all those other candidates?

With competition for roles increasing, you need an escape plan:

  • Avoid the scatter-gun approach: Applying for anything and everything is not going to land you a role worthy of your skills. Identify your ideal jobs and employers and then target them specifically – even if a job is not being advertised you can always make an approach. Let them know you want to join their team and believe you will be an ideal fit. You will then be first in mind when a vacancy arises.
  • Network your way to a new job: Referrals, recommendations and introductions are now one of the most popular ways to find new recruits. It really is a case of “who you know” as well as “what you know”. So, boost your social profile (at sites like Procurious and LinkedIn), link to the right people and make sure you are visible.
  • Get the right tailoring: I don’t mean the right suit (although looking the part is important). This is about tailoring every CV and cover to every role and employer. Make it appear that you are only applying for this one job … and this is one that you are not only uniquely qualified to do, but this is THE one you really want.
  • Stand out from the crowd: There will be other candidates… so how do you make sure that you are the preferred one? Well, the first step is to get an interview. For that, your CV needs to stand out. Learn new skills (investing in your own success shows you are a go-getter), be more of a mover and shaker (post blogs, join networking groups, raise your profile) and be very specific in the wording you use on your CV (demonstrate every requirement of the job on your CV). You can also grab the attention of recruiters by including some big numbers (I raised sales by 20 per cent, worked on a £40m project etc).
  • Do your research: Failure to find out about the employer, the work they do, their clients and their values, is one of the main reasons why candidates do not get the job. It’s easy. While you are at it, research yourself online (a bad social media profile can cost you a job).
  • Believe in yourself:  If you’ve ever missed out on a job offer to a less-qualified rival, you’ll know that getting hired is about being the perfect fit rather than having the perfect CV. Practice your interview techniques with friends and family – people work with people. So aim to come across as someone they’d like to work with.

A Brief Overview Of The 2019 Procurement Job Market

So far this year, most organisations have been more actively hiring procurement employees on a permanent basis as opposed to on contracts.

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How has the supply chain & procurement hiring landscape been over the first half of 2019?

As all contracts with suppliers from the European Union continue to be reviewed as part of Brexit contingency planning, the first half of 2019 has revealed an increased level of permanent recruitment compared to the hiring of contract or temporary supply chain & procurement professionals. As cost savings remain key in the City, the market has remained extremely buoyant, with a strong preference from hiring managers for individuals possessing experience in IT or tech. The thirst for data is continually increasing and with procurement in mind, lots of emerging solutions that provide procurement and vendor dashboards are always needed. Therefore, these roles have frequently been recruited for.

Across Financial Services, Banking and Insurance, organisations are still busy and hiring. More specifically, the mid-tier and SME businesses have been busier than the larger tier 1 banks, as they seek to reduce their spend and ensure contract risks are minimal in these uncertain times.

Procurement is a money driven profession and salaries are particularly competitive at present, so bonuses and benefits packages can be crucial deciding factors when professionals are looking for new roles. From the perspective of hiring organisations, they have to be prepared to exercise flexibility in terms of salaries or day rates if they want to bring professionals with the right skill sets to the business. 

How to keep the workforce motivated and attract new employees

A large number of professionals are now requesting an element of flexibility in their role or the opportunity to work remotely.  The 9 – 5 working day is no longer how professionals in the UK operate. Flexible working, in terms of hours or being able to work remotely, is expected by the majority of employees in the UK. Organisations have to offer a level of flexibility if they want to attract high quality applicants in what has become a highly competitive marketplace.  

Some organisations continue to lean towards implementing tools or programmes for learning and development that are tailored specifically to procurement professionals. This shows an increased effort to bolster their candidate attraction and retention in these key business areas. In turn, this empowers employees to increase their knowledge in areas such as ‘best practice procurement’, sourcing methodologies and stakeholder engagement. This has become a real talking point, showing the right business highly prioritises procurement and its people.

What has made a Supply Chain & Procurement CV stand out?

Category Management remains a key area of hiring, so upskilling in this is hugely beneficial for all procurement professionals. Those candidates possessing detailed Category Management experience, including spend, savings and projects have been highly sought after by hiring managers. The increase in specialist IT category roles was category specific, mainly consisting of infrastructure, applications and digital transformation spend areas.

Any candidates who upskill in these areas will put themselves in a strong position. Having a good level of experience in any of these will make you stand out against other applicants. Businesses have also continued searching for tendering specialists who can help them mitigate risk on their EU contracts amid all the Brexit confusion. Those with transformation experience is sought after as businesses will require such support to guide them through the uncertainty of Brexit.

How can supply chain & procurement job seekers stay motivated over the slower summer months?

It is not looking like things are going to slow down for Procurement professionals during the summer months – it is a busy time for the industry. For those job seekers actively engaged in any processes, it’s important to keep in touch with your recruitment consultant. Call in weekly to make sure you are hearing about all suitable opportunities; this will keep you at the forefront of your consultant’s mind.

Procurement specialists need to develop their wider skills to implement in negotiations to ensure ‘compliant contracts’ that mitigate risk without over-engineering a low risk engagement – robust frameworks to manage third party engagements could inhibit flexibility for a negotiator.

This article was written by Natalie Limerick, Director – Morgan McKinley

Are You In The Right Job?

The average working life is more than 3,500 days, so that is a long time to spend doing the wrong job. The sooner you switch, the easier it is. So how do you begin?

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If you dread going to work in the morning, get a sick feeling every Sunday night, or spend hours sitting at your desk desperate to be anywhere else, then it’s obvious that you should find a different job.

However, is it really the career path that’s wrong for you?

Perhaps you are doing the right job, just in the wrong place… or with the wrong people.

If you work in a toxic environment or with the boss from hell, there is no need to make a drastic career change. All you need to do is find the right employer.

You don’t have to hate your job for it to be the wrong one

However, not everyone who is in the wrong job is miserable. Many are just not fulfilled or energised by what they do.

Nearly nine in ten UK professionals are considering moving jobs right now, according to CV-Library – and they want to move for a range of reasons from career progression to a pay rise.

Only one in ten (13 per cent) of UK employees are actually unhappy at work according to research by recruiters Robert Half UK.

Although that is still 4.3 million people nationwide, that a lot less than the number wanting to leave for pastures new.

So, don’t assume that you have to hate your job, for it to be the wrong one.

Simply ask yourself this: “If I am still working in this type of job in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time, will I look back with regrets that I had not done something else – or be happy to have done a job I loved for so long?”

The average working life is more than 3,500 days, so that is a long time to spend doing the wrong job. The sooner you switch, the easier it is. So how do you begin?

Step 1: Take the test

Before jumping into another job, it pays to work out what career path you should be on.

Many of us fall into a particular career and often end up accepting a role because we were offered it, rather than because it was the job of our dreams.

One of the most highly regarded tests is a Myers & Briggs personality test. If you have never taken one, you can pay for one online (myersbriggs.org) or do a similar free test such as 16personalities.com or humanmetric.com.

Whichever test you take, it’s important to be honest – then read through the results to gain a better understanding of what types of careers could suit your personality. Giving some thought to your strengths and weaknesses is a great way to reassess why you do what you do.

If you are an extrovert, who is intuitive and relies on your feelings when making decisions, then being stuck behind the scenes in a process-driven, methodical, technical role, might understandably make you miserable. Or if you are naturally quieter and more reserved, being thrust into the limelight and forced to make presentations, might be your idea of hell.

So if you are the proverbial ‘square peg in a round hole’ it is time for a change.

Remember, it is much easier to change your job than trying (and failing) to change your personality – after all, one is what you do, the other is who you are.

Step 2: Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis

If you are in the wrong job, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about what else you could do – but are then deterred because you don’t have the qualifications/ don’t have the experience/cannot afford to retrain/ cannot afford to step down the career ladder…. and so on.

It is easy to come up with dozens of reasons to stay where you are.

That means you will inevitably stay just there.

So stop thinking, start doing. Talk to people who are doing the jobs you are interested in, join a networking group for that industry sector, seek out others who have made a career change – and step out of your comfort zone. Once you can visualise a new job for yourself, it will be easier to start making the change.

Also visit careershifers.org for some inspiration. When you read other people’s stories you will realise they were all just as terrified of making the wrong career move…and once you discover how they overcame their fears to find a more fulfilling working life, you will realise that it is possible to do something that makes you want to get out of bed every morning.

Also do a 360 – ask people you trust what career they see you doing. They may say ‘I always imagined you as a teacher’ or ‘Why aren’t you in marketing, you love being creative and persuading people about your ideas’. Remember, to listen.

Step 3: Try before you buy (into a new career)

Before handing in your notice, and taking up one of these new career paths, give it a try.

Take two weeks off and find someone to work shadow. Volunteer in the sector. Use LinkedIn to reach out to those working in roles you are interested in and talk candidly about their careers.

If your personality tests show you would make a great teacher, but you really think you would lack the patience to deal with dozens of children every day, give it a go – volunteer as a reading partner or to help run a school club. You will still find out if this is something you are going to love – or hate.

The other drawback of a career change to something more fulfilling is that many rewarding roles are low paid.

The solution? Stick with the day job, and have a side-hustle doing something you really enjoy. So, if you have always wanted to be an artist, illustrator, cook, actor, gardener, photographer or fashion designer, then do this part-time while seeing your day job as a means of funding your dream career.

At least that way, you won’t have any regrets when you look back on your working life – instead of a “I could have been” you will be an “I was”


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Do Fringe Benefits Increase Productivity?

Does employee happiness improve productivity and which types of workplace benefits produced the greatest productivity gains?

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Until we are all replaced by robots, there are very few businesses where employee productivity is irrelevant.  It is self-evident that fringe benefits which increase employee happiness and reduce stress are likely to increase productivity.  But until now there has been very little hard data around this concept.

A recent series of studies by the University of Warwick, Department of Economics, looked at whether employee happiness improved productivity and, more specifically, if they do, which types of workplace improvement produced the greatest productivity gains. 

The series of experiments was based on creating ‘happiness shocks’ in one group and not doing it in a matched group.  Both groups were then asked to perform a series of easy mathematical additions under time pressure.  They were paid about 50c for every correct answer, so there was incentive to take the test seriously.

Everyone was also asked to provide their most recent school level results in mathematics and do a separate mathematical reasoning test so that adjustments could be made for individual mathematical ability. The time-pressured mathematical test was designed to simulate the type of work done in typical white-collar job in a precise and measurable way. 

The happiness shocks in the first two experiments were created by showing the group a 10-minute movie clip of a well-known comedian performing comedy sketches.  Based on their own assessment, on average people shown the clip were 1 point (on a 7 point scale) happier than people not shown the clip.  In an attempt to make the happiness shock more closely reflect real-world examples, in the third experiment the participants were given chocolate, fruit and drinks instead of being shown a clip. They were given 10 minutes to consume whatever they wanted.  This was equally effective in raising the mood of the participants.

All three experiments showed that the happy people were more productive than the people who weren’t shown the clip or given treats.  Both groups were paid for their answers, but the happy group shown the comedy clips attempted 10 per cent more problems and got 10 percent more correct answers after adjusting for mathematical ability. 

The researchers analysed those results in detail and found that the improved outcome was entirely due to attempting more problems. The happy workers were more motivated to put in more effort. The improved mood did not make them smarter or better at maths. If they were bad at maths before the experiment, they still were when they were happy, they just attempted more problems and so had a greater chance of getting correct answers.  And the same was equally true of those that were good at maths before they started. The improvement was uniform across all ability levels.

The improvement was approximately doubled in the experiment were the ‘happiness shock’ was snacks. Interestingly one of the experiments involved not telling the participants that they would be paid for correct answers.  It made no difference to the outcome.

The researchers also tried a variation where they attempted to see if recent ‘bad life events’ in the participants real life showed up as having any effect on their happiness and their performance. In this experiment, no ‘happiness shocks’ were given, and they were asked to perform the timed task after they reported their self-assessed level of happiness.  After the test, they were individually asked if they had, at any time, experienced one of more of: close family bereavement, extended family bereavement, serious life-threatening illness in the close family or parental divorce.

People who had reported one of the ‘bad life events’ within the last three years were measurably less happy and less productive.  They were at least half a point lower on the 7 point happiness scale, they made 10 percent fewer attempts at the maths problems and got around 15 percent less correct answers.  The more recent the ‘bad life event’ the lower their initial level of happiness and the worse they did on the test. If it happened more than 3 years ago, it made no difference to either happiness or performance.  When they looked at how people who had suffered bad life events had gone in the other experiments they found that the ‘happiness shocks’ were just as effective at improving their performance.

When the researchers separated out the results by the type of event experienced, they found that ‘parental divorce’ probably didn’t qualify as a ‘bad life event.” It had no effect on happiness or productivity and in some instances actually improved both. 

These are obviously not real-world experiments, but they do a reasonable job of simulating the effect of delivering happiness to a workforce.  Happy workers try harder and do more immediately after receiving a ‘happiness shock.’ And their cash reward for the work, their pay, had little effect.

Translating those findings into the workplace suggests that if an employer provides “extras” which the majority of their workforce regard as a treat, the workers are likely to be at least 10 per cent more productive.  As long as the cost of that benefit is less than the measured productivity increase, then employers would be mad not to do it.


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How To Stand Out Through Radical Optimism

Is your news stream flooded with negativity? Do you unknowingly pass this negativity on to others? Perhaps it’s time to try something radical and be optimistic.

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As a species, the human race is hard-wired to react more strongly to fear and bad news than to positivity.

If you think back to our ancient ancestors living as hunter-gatherers, this biological reaction made sense. It was necessary to keep them alive in the wild, where curiosity about an ‘unknown’ within their environment was more likely to lead to death than it was to a positive experience.

In today’s world however, such life-threatening situations are rarely experienced, yet we still find our monkey brains on high-alert, fed by stories of drama, outrage and anxiety via social media and 24/7 news feeds.

These dramatic, fear-based headlines that are so common in today’s media prey on our anxiety and insecurity and leave us cautious at the best of times.

We find ourselves unable to think rationally or creatively or produce solutions that might otherwise benefit those around us.

I recently discussed this issue on my Inside Influence podcast with Dr Angus Hervey and Tane Hunter, the co-founders of Future Crunch.

Future Crunch believes that if we want to be more influential in our work environment, to think more creatively and produce solutions to problems that might otherwise remain unsolved – we need to become more conscious of maintaining a ‘healthy diet’ when it comes to the information we consume and share.

So how do we do that?

Change your information diet

The first step is to think of your consumption of news in terms of a diet.

Negativity is like junk food – it’s fine to consume every so often but indulge too much and your mental state will start to suffer.

Just like the physical body, the majority of your mental diet – the information you consume each and every day – should consist of healthier options that nurture, nourish and energise you rather than prey on your mental fears and anxieties.

Remember, all media news feeds (including newspapers) as designed to ‘feed’ us information that we have shown interest in in the past. Each and every time we click on headlines that promote anger, outrage and drama we’re telling these companies that we want to see more of the same.

It’s essential that we make a more conscious choice around the ‘information diet’ that we consume, to minimise the negative information stream and make sure that we’re staying in a productive and healthy mindset.

Now – let’s be clear – this does not mean ignoring important information in relation to your field, industry or the world at large. It helps no one to stick your head in the sand and pretend that bad things aren’t happening.

What this means is that – if you can maintain a healthy balance in what you consume – you will be more resilient when the bad things appear on the horizon. This means you will be able to easily think of effective and creative solutions. As opposed to being so beaten down and overwhelmed – that a fast and considered response is impossible.

Use optimism to stand out

Politicians from Julius Caesar to Donald Trump have always known that fear, drama and outrage are an incredibly effective tool for capturing the attention of others.

Take the rise of automation, for example. How many headlines have you seen out there that focus on the negative possibilities of robotics, such as mass unemployment or even an existential threat to the human race? Good news stories about how robotics will improve our quality of life tend to be lost among the negative noise because – again – we are hard-wired to pay attention to bad news.  

But here’s the secret. If a single person in your network, your organisation or your team chose to reframe these developments. Took the time to research, communicate, or write a list of exactly what opportunities these situations might create – would they stand out?

The answer is absolutely yes. To stand against this negative tide and broadcast their message through optimism and positivity – they’ll get noticed. Not only that – but my money is that that person will be the one invited to the table, offered the promotion or requested at the next high-level meeting.

The positive alternative

Overcoming our hard-wired preference for negativity isn’t easy, but it can be done.

Environmentalists around the globe are today coming to understand that they’ve made a critical error in spreading the message about global warming through a narrative of fear – talking about the disastrous consequences of climate change certainly won everyone’s attention, but progress has been slow.

Compare that to the new messages that are now appearing – where we’re being shown the limitless possibilities of renewable technologies and a greener world. Where we’re being given real and actionable ideas to help the situation.

Now that’s an approach to influence that will change things.

Optimism in procurement

Most procurement professionals will one day face the challenge of trying to get their business stakeholders on board with some sort of change agenda – whether it’s getting them to use a new system, reducing maverick spend, or simply engaging procurement earlier in their decision-making processes.

There are two ways to get people on board – through fear or positivity.

It’s a bit more complex than the carrot versus stick approach, but it boils down to replacing threats and cajoling with a positive, what’s-in-it-for-you message.

Instead of telling stakeholders that failing to engage with procurement will risk their project or earn them a slap on the wrist, educate them instead about the benefits – lower costs, higher savings, and better outcomes that align with their goals.

In the end, you want stakeholders to come on board with your initiative out of enthusiasm rather than out of fear.

In short, be aware of the power of fear and replace it with positivity wherever you can. Most of us made a 2019 New Year’s resolution to improve our diet – now it’s time to pay just as much attention on the fuel we give (and offer) our minds.