How to Embark on a Career in Supply Chain Management
Are you interested in a career in logistics and supply chain management? Do you have the organizational and communication skills needed to help companies expand their reach? Entry-level supply chain jobs are in high demand and might be the right career path for you.
Duane Copeman is the product manager for a small gourmet bread company in the Southeastern United States. When his organization began shipping fresh loaves around the state, Copeman considered handling supply chain management in house. He soon found out the job involved far more than he anticipated.
"When you're a small business that needs to ship fresh product quickly, figuring out the availability, routes, costs, and timing of third-party trucking companies can be a nightmare for someone like me," Copeman says. "That's why we decided to go with a third-party supply chain manager."
"It was a huge relief for everyone," Copeman says, "when the company made the switch to a third-party supply chain manager." Thanks to this third party's involvement, shipments of fresh bread went out on time, customers received supplies when promised, and Copeman's company was able to attract new customers.
"Without a supply chain manager, we never could have coordinated all of this," Copeman adds.
The growing need for logistics and supply chain management
Supply chain managers may also be referred to as logisticians or inventory managers. They source and purchase raw materials and parts to make products, generate inventory, and sell to buyers, according to the Association for Supply Chain Management. Usually, supply chain managers report into the Operations department, as they evaluate suppliers and negotiate contracts with vendors.
Jobs in this field are growing steadily. Across the board, the role of a retail-oriented first-line supervisor is projected to grow by 3.8 percent by 2026. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that roles for logisticians in areas such as supply chain management will grow by 5 percent by 2028.
The Bureau's report states that employment is expected to grow as companies need more logisticians to move products more efficiently, solve problems and identify areas for improvement.
What it takes to succeed in logistics and supply chain management
The job title of supply chain manager is relatively new. However, this role has grown quickly and is now an integral position, as more companies work to improve their sourcing, increase availability, and speed up delivery.
- See the whole system as well as every link in the chain and make them work together as efficiently as possible.
- Lower costs by getting rid of unnecessary steps, such as additional moving and handling.
- Adjust the system to account for unique customer requirements.
- Create value for customers, companies and stakeholders.
- Coordinate with all partners in the process, including suppliers, third parties, customers and intermediaries.
- Excel at planning, managing, sourcing, procuring and managing logistics.
- Work well with supply chain management software, tools and modules to improve processes.
To perform these job functions and be an asset to an organization, you'll need to excel at:
- Managing people and resources
- Sourcing and procuring products
- Managing logistics
- Utilizing new technology
- Adapting to change
- Meeting deadlines
Employers usually prefer applicants who hold a bachelor's degree in business. If you took coursework that emphasized logistics or supply chains, be sure to highlight these classes prominently.
Check out our Resume Samples to see how to highlight relevant work and educational experience. If you earned a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field, demonstrate how your skills and experience will transfer to a career in supply chain management. You can also choose to pursue a professional certificate in supply chain management.
Securing a career in supply chain management
To learn the ropes and build relevant experience, consider a role as a warehouse employee, delivery driver or assistant supply chain manager. These experiences will bolster your supply chain management resume when it comes time to apply for a more senior position.
The measure of a successful supply chain manager is in their ability to see where they can tighten, trim and improve processes. Business owners and managers like Duane Copeman rely on supply chain managers to create and deliver the best, most economical and expedient product possible.
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