Expert Insight: Gilmore's Daily Jab
By Dan Gilmore
Date: Mar. 5, 2009

Supply Chain Comment: Tips for Finding a Job if the Layoff Wave Hits You


The Key Right Now is Being Different, Preparing for Interviews

There are obviously lots of layoffs going around, and that is hitting supply chain and logistics managers just like everyone else.

The great news is that supply chain is a growth profession and, before long, the jobs in the profession will be back. That doesn’t make the current pain for those laid off much better, but the general outlook once we get through this is bright. I was a pretty good job hunter earlier in my career, and continue to help people in all areas today, mostly locally (friends, friends of friends, etc.). I know, because I have heard from them, that many in supply chain who have lost their jobs re-subscribe to SCDigest as a way to stay in touch with what is happening in the industry. So, below are some tips that I think make sense on what to do if you are laid off:

  • It may take awhile this time. You just have to adjust your mindset that it will be some time before companies start hiring in a meaningful way. There are some jobs out there, but the competition will be huge, making the odds slim. This will change, but being realistic is best, and using the time to do other things (family, friends, health, education, etc.) while still job hunting can be the smart thing until the recovery begins. You can’t change the macro-economy, so don’t get depressed about something you can’t affect. I know that’s easier said than done, but trust me: depressed, desperate or beaten down job candidates come through loud and clear in job interviews. Don’t be one.
  • Get your own email. It costs just a few bucks at Yahoo and maybe other places to get something like I have seen many who email me using their joint home email account with a spouse that is along the lines of or even odder user names. At minimum, get your own personal, business sounding email user name. You want to look professional in every way.

  • Resumes – many of the ones I am sent from someone looking for help are not very good. Two issues: (1) either they are just a boring functional sort of history; or (2) they use that style where there is a metric for every line item (reduced transportation expense 7%, increased productivity 5%, etc.)

The latter is the way many books/job search service recommend you do it. It worked for awhile in the 1990s when few took this approach, but now that so many do it, the result is that all resumes look about the same. To get put into the “let’s talk to him/her” stack, you have to be different.

I would argue you need to focus on what you really know: What you are really good at? What have you learned?  What insight do you have? So, rather than just saying you reduced transportation 7%, which, in the end, doesn’t mean anything, if you told me “Was able to reduce transportation expense significantly by identifying where we had load planning inefficiencies that left trailers operating at just 73% utilization,” I might be interested.

  • In this environment, I would get specific. Don’t just say “led implementation of a new warehouse management system”; too many have done that or anything else at a general level. Say “led implementation of a new Manhattan Associates WMS”; if the target company has or will implement Manhattan, that will put you in the “good” stack. In Stephen Covey’s words from years ago, be a “meaningful specific” not a “walking generality.” That is the only chance when there are hundreds of candidates for every opening.

  • Prepare extremely well for interviews: Eventually, the interviews will come. People often don’t seem to realize this is where it is all won or lost. If you get an interview, you are on the short list. Now you have to win the “audition.” Yet, very few people prepare in any meaningful way for those interviews, my experience says.

I have many, many thoughts on this topic that are too long for this blog, but I offer just one here. Videotape yourself answering the many common interview questions that can be found on many web sites and books. I promise you this, as I learned myself early on – the first time you watch yourself on tape/DVD, it will be painful. You will hate your “performance,” and realize maybe for the first time that you scratch your left ear every 45 seconds or whatever. You’ll think you sound like an idiot. But that is what the hiring manager will see too. You need to work on that delivery until you are happy with what you see.

You also need to be able to tell “stories” – the narrative of how you solved problems and delivered results. Those are some thoughts. I may do a part 2 on this if there is some demand. I don’t know where any jobs are (not what I do), but may be able to give some resume advice if the numbers of respondents aren’t overwhelming.

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profile About the Author
Dan Gilmore is the editor of Supply Chain Digest.

Gilmore Says:

Trust me: depressed, desperate or beaten down job candidates come through loud and clear in job interviews. Don’t be one.

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