Procurement & Supply Chain – 2014 National Market Update

Recruitment trends in the procurement and supply chain market vary significantly across the US.  Below, our recruitment experts at Michael Page Procurement & Supply Chain discuss the trends and behaviors they have observed in their states so far in 2014.

National Growth Trends in 2014

Nick Walker, Associate Director at Michael Page Procurement & Supply Chain in Houston says that overall the market is showing stable growth, although things have “cooled” a bit in the past two years. Procurement and supply chain employers typically tie their hiring patterns to big projects (e.g. petrochemical plants, pipelines etc.) and decisions on these projects seem to be taking a lot longer than they have previously and as a result, hiring has mirrored that cycle.
On the plus side, many of the roles filled are due to planned additions to staff. Small to medium enterprises have begun to invest in procurement and supply chain earlier in their growth cycle than they have in the past as they recognize the value top quality professionals can bring to the company.
Dan Plourde, Senior Manager at Michael Page Procurement & Supply Chain in Chicago has noticed that over the past 12 months, the market has become increasingly candidate driven. Candidates are getting more interviews and offers, which has slightly driven up salary levels, especially for candidates in the two to six years’ experience range.
The Michael Page Procurement & Supply Chain team is a fairly new on the West Coast, however, we have made placements in this space since our launch of San Francisco in 2011.
Ricardo Romero, Senior Consultant at Michael Page Procurement & Supply Chain in Los Angeles says that recently, they have been noticing  that several positions within operations are in high demand, specifically strategic sourcing managers (both direct and indirect), as well as supply chain/inventory control positions. The most common reason for these openings tends to be expansion or replacement. With job creation picking up, candidates have more options to choose from and are therefore creating more traction in the marketplace. Companies that are looking to hire due to expansion/backfill are bringing their recruitment efforts in-house at the risk of missing out on some of the best talent on the market.
Currently, the hot topic on the market is about utilizing data and analytics. More and more companies are looking for candidates who are quantitatively-focused and adept at collecting, organizing and utilizing data.

Retention and Attraction

Counter offers/buy-backs and aggressive salaries have been increasing over the past few years.  Employers have become savvier about retaining their best staff; offering golden handcuffs/retention packages and most candidates who are currently in employment will receive some form of a counter offer if they make a move to leave. Nick Walker advises candidates never to take a buy-back. The typical counter offer pattern will inevitably play out; the candidate is back on the market within six months. He offers the same advice to employers and adds that if you are willing to give a counter offer, it’s best to make the offer before the employee forces your hand.
Jillian Williams, Manager at Michael Page Procurement & Supply Chain in Boston says that because counter offers are becoming increasingly prevalent, they are advising clients to go with more competitive offers and to ensure that they have additional money within the budget as a buffer. However, candidates are often holding off on accepting offers because they want to see what other, possibly better, positions might be on offer.
Additionally, sign on bonuses are becoming almost a requirement to compete against a multi-offer scenario. Both clients and candidates are being forced to act quickly during the recruitment process with the vetting process averaging two weeks from the time a candidate is presented to completion.

Economic Climate

Keith Jordan, Senior Manager at Michael Page Procurement & Supply Chain in New Jersey, says that the economic downturn made it challenging for organizations to hire and retain talent. Stable departments were running lean in terms of raises and promotions and departments who disbanded in the downturn are now being completely rebuilt.  With unemployment figures down nationally, candidates have become more confident and are exploring opportunities outside of their current company. Across the board, companies are being pressured to find money in their budgets to pay employees a premium to stay. The job market is healthy and employees know there are options if they implement a better schedule, are flexible, and have money to spend.
The companies that are hiring the best talent have adapted to the changing market conditions since the economic crisis in 2008. Companies that are the most successful when it comes to hiring the best people are those that move quickly through the interview process and make strong offers which decreases the chance of a counter offer.
For more information on procurement and supply chain recruitment, contact your local Michael Page office to speak to a specialist recruiter.