Matchmaker, matchmaker

by Tom Pauls
Tom Pauls is the owner and managing  director of SCL Search Consultants Ltd., a recruitment firm with an exclusive focus in supply chain and logistics.

The supply chain job market in Canada is hot. Supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have brought a new awareness of supply chain, causing many companies to take a close look at their in-house logistics talent and seek out ways to upgrade their workforce.

Supply chain trends including digitization, increased online shopping, and transportation capacity constraints have created a labour shortage in supply chain, creating an increased number of job opportunities for the supply chain sector.

However, over 70 percent of those jobs are not advertised. Employers may not post jobs for a number of reasons – they may not wish to sort through hundreds of applications, they may be looking to replace an underperformer, they may prefer getting candidates through employee referrals, or they may simply promote from within.

Many of these “hidden” jobs are filled by recruitment firms. The recruiting and staffing industry is massive. There are over 5,000 recruitment firms across Canada, and each employs anywhere from one to 1000-plus recruiters.

With so many to choose from, how does the job seeker choose who to work with? Will those recruiters be able to help you land your dream job?

What a recruiter does

Recruiters get paid by companies to find the best possible candidate for a given job opening. We don’t get paid by job seekers, and a good recruiter will never promise to find you a job.

If your background matches a current job opening, or if your experience is potentially of interest to one of their clients, the recruiter will do their utmost to introduce you to their client. A recruiter is essentially a matchmaker – we get to know our clients as well as our candidates, and when we see a potential match we make an introduction.

In addition, many recruiters offer advice around job-search strategies and salary negotiations. A good recruiter will share resume-writing tips and interview tips as well. We try to allow our clients to interview for skills and personality fit. We don’t want them missing out on a great candidate because of a poorly written resume or mediocre interview skills.

Who to choose

The first step in selecting a recruiter is narrowing the field. Build a list of recruiters who specialize in supply chain and logistics. Google “logistics recruiter” or “supply chain recruiter” and see what pops up. Associations such as CITT, SCMA, APICS or CIFFA may be able to recommend one.

Once you’ve narrowed the field, look for Google reviews and LinkedIn endorsements. Chances are, you’ll quickly come up with a handful of recruiters who specialize in your field of expertise.

Send the recruiter an e-mail with a resume attached. It’s also a good idea to send a connection invite on LinkedIn, along with a personalized note of introduction. If the recruiter has a job posting that matches your background, apply to the posting as well.

After sending your resume and a LinkedIn invite, follow up with a phone call. Confirm they received your resume, and ask if they have a moment to speak.

In your initial contact with a recruiter, they will likely want to know what sort of work you do, and what type of job you’re looking for. The more specific you are about the job you’re targeting, the better.

Many job seekers will present themselves as a jack-of-all-trades, thinking a broad background in supply chain may qualify them for almost any opportunity. In fact, the opposite is true. For most job openings, we look for candidates who specialize and have the exact experience our clients are seeking.

Prepare questions for the recruiter. Make sure they actually specialize in the roles you’re targeting. Ask about their background in supply chain, what type of companies they represent, and what job opportunities they have currently.

Next steps

If your background is a close match to one of the recruiter’s current job openings, they should be able to “make the match” and introduce you to their client right away.

If they don’t have anything at the moment that matches your background, make sure they have a good idea of your capabilities and what you’re looking for. Ask the recruiter if, and how often, you can keep in touch. Also ask how they would like you to touch base, as some prefer e-mail or LinkedIn, while others prefer a phone call.

The job market in supply chain and logistics is hot, so recruiters today are busier than ever. Getting a recruiter’s attention and staying on their radar is not easy, but the opportunities and advice they can provide may prove invaluable.