1. Develop Goals and an Overall Supply Chain Job Search Strategy

A job search, like anything else in life that you wish to achieve, begins with creating and writing down your goals, developing corresponding action steps, tracking your results, and adjusting your action plan along the way. Treat your job search like a major project where your role is both the Project Manager and Ground-Level Employee.

In developing this plan, one great approach is to create a Job Search Tracking Template in Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, or a similar platform of your choice. We have developed one for your consideration, which you can modify for your specific situation (see the link just above). Using this type of tool will simplify the tracking of your target companies, progress made against goals, key activities, follow-up actions, etc.

In your template, there are key focus areas or tabs, you should implement in order to ensure success in your job search strategy.

  1. Establish an Action Plan

One of the key goals of your template should be establishing an action plan for daily, weekly, and monthly job search activities. Write down the tasks you wish to complete in your effort to meet your goal of landing a new job. These should include action items such as attending a certain amount of supply chain networking events per month, connecting with X amount of new contacts on LinkedIn per week, applying to Y amount of jobs per day, working on improving top skills employers look for or taking colleagues from your supply chain network out for coffee or lunch Z times per month.

In order to bring this plan to life, use whatever organizational system works best for you. If you like to create calendar events in Outlook, add these activities to your Outlook calendar and set them up on a recurring basis. If you prefer to maintain a to-do list on a sheet of paper, write them out and keep them close to your workspace. Be sure to prioritize from most to least important.

  1. Develop A Target Company List

On a separate tab within your template, list the companies you wish to target on your supply chain job search in order of preference. I recommend that you start with 25 to 50 target companies, which will help you stay focused and maximize your productivity. Include links to their job openings or a link to where they post open jobs, so you can stay up to date on any positions that open in your area of expertise. If the company allows you to create a Job Search Email Alert, be sure to set this up so you’ll receive an alert if the company posts a position that matches the criteria you specify.

Consider using a rifle approach versus a shotgun approach – focus on the best-fit companies and opportunities. Listing too many companies makes it easier to lose focus and spin your wheels, perhaps not maintaining your attention and time in the right places. This isn’t your end-all, be-all list. You can and should make changes to this list frequently as you uncover new companies or discover that certain companies aren’t in hiring mode or aren’t the right fit for you. Having a starting point is important to organize your supply chain job search strategy and ensure that you’re targeting positions that fit the type of company you want to work for.

  1. Keep Track of Any and All Networking Contacts

Use a new tab to keep track of all the contacts you discover that work at the companies on your target company list, along with other helpful contacts such as third-party recruiters, for example. These contacts can vary from referrals that you receive from your existing network or profiles that you discover through social media sites such as LinkedIn. You should aim to connect with the following types of contacts:

  • Supply Chain Recruiters and other recruiters that support the functional areas or departments you’re targeting
  • HR managers who support the functional areas you’re targeting
  • Employees (peers) who are doing the same type of job you’re interested in doing
  • Hiring managers who work within the functional areas you’re targeting
  • Department heads who lead the functional areas you’re targeting
  • The top chain executive at the company
  • Don’t forget to use your full network; contacts from previous companies, from schools or colleges, friends, relatives… all may provide introductions or ideas

Making these types of connections can help you with penetrating the employer’s back door i.e. circumventing the “job posting black hole”. As you make connections on LinkedIn, be sure to send each new connection a quick introductory email and/or InMail along with a copy of your resume. Keep the message short and sweet, no more than 5 – 7 sentences, and reference the job(s) you’re interested in. Lastly, you’ll want to leave a call to action for each message you send such as asking for their availability for a quick call to learn more about the position or if he/she would be willing to forward your message/resume to the hiring manager or recruiter assigned to the position you’re targeting.

  1. Write Down Every Job You Apply For

Keep track of every job you apply to, whether it’s an online job application or a resume submitted via email. If you are using multiple resume versions that highlight different aspects of your experience, do keep track of where you sent them. It’s important to track these job application activities so you stay organized, can follow up with the right company at the right time, and are prepared when an employer calls you about a job posting that you recently applied to.

  1. Evaluate Interviews and Any Offers You Receive

Keep track of all interviews, including phone interviews, video interviews, face-to-face interviews, and follow-up interviews. Record the name, date, and format of interactions. This way, you can easily track when you’ve sent out thank-you notes and the date you should follow up after interviews have taken place. Once you receive an offer, establish a new tab within the template to analyze all aspects of your job offer e.g. base salary, annual bonus, sign-on bonus, healthcare benefits, retirement plans, vacation and holidays, car allowance, and any other perks. Laying out all of the benefits into a spreadsheet, especially if you have multiple job offers, is a great way to evaluate each job offer and prepare yourself to successfully negotiate a job offer.

  1. Track Your Progress and Results

As you discover which activities and techniques are driving the best results, adjust your action plan accordingly. I encourage you to track metrics such as the ratio of job applications to interviews and the ratio of interviews to job offers. If you’re not getting enough interviews, you may need to optimize your supply chain resume or step up your networking efforts. If you’re interviewing a lot but aren’t getting offers, you may need to work on improving your interviewing skills.

Developing a structured, flexible, and evolving job search template. Manage your supply chain job search like a project is critical to executing a successful job search campaign. Another key is to focus about 80% of your time on networking activities as this is the top source for hires in most companies. The other 20% of your time should be spent on researching opportunities, applying online, sending out thank-you notes, and related job search activities.

For additional resources, please register and continue to use our vast array of (always free!) career building and optimizing tools at Supply Chain Careers