September 25, 2009
Column | labor pool

Survival strategies for logistics professionals

Worried about surviving the recession with your career intact? Here are some tips for holding onto your job (or finding a new one).

By Donald Jacobson and Shelley Safian

Mass layoffs, business closures, restructurings … the bad news from the employment front just keeps coming. And as we've learned by now, logistics/supply chain jobs are as vulnerable as any other in this recession.

All this turmoil may have you worried about keeping your job or, if you've already been laid off, stressed about your prospects of landing a new one. But there are steps you can take to survive the recession with your sanity, if not your career, intact. Here are some tips:

  • Volunteer. If you're lucky enough to be employed, volunteer to do something extra—whether it's staying late, coming in on a Saturday, or taking on the responsibilities of someone who was laid off. That's not to suggest that you should let your bosses walk all over you. This is about raising your profile with your own boss and perhaps your boss's boss. Managers like to surround themselves with people who are helpful, have a good attitude, and are team players—and that's especially true in difficult times.

    So when the call for volunteers comes, don't hesitate to raise your hand. Just don't ask what compensation you might get for your efforts. Right now, keeping your job is compensation enough.
     
  • Make sure your contributions don't go unnoticed. Any experienced salesperson will tell you that the way to close a sale in a tough economy is to convince the prospect that he or she can't afford not to buy the product. In this case, you are the product, and you need to make it evident to all concerned how absolutely necessary you are to the company.
     
  • Increase your value to the company. This is a great time to take classes to update your skills or learn to use that new inventory software that was shelved because of the economic downturn. And you might not have to spend any money. Look for seminars offered by professional organizations. Visit the software developer's Web site to see if it offers training programs. Or check out a book from the public library.

But what if you've already lost your job? In that case, keeping your sanity intact calls for slightly different tactics. Instead of looking to improve your position in the company, you'll be looking to improve your position in the marketplace. What follows are some suggestions:

  • Give back to the profession. In between sending out résumés and following up with potential employers, volunteer. Contact organizations like CSCMP, WERC, and APICS to find out what openings they have on their committees. For a few hours of your time and a few conference calls, you could see a big payoff. Not only will you be giving back to the profession, but you're boosting your visibility in the field. Plus, you can make great contacts that way.

    Beyond that, these volunteer projects can be valuable additions to your résumé and help fill those awkward time gaps. And keeping busy with meaningful work can help stave off the unemployment blues.
     
  • Polish up your skills. While you're waiting for the job market to pick up, why not go back to school? Colleges across the country have federal and state money for grants and student loans. And nowadays, you don't have to worry about being locked into a rigid course schedule. Online programs give you the flexibility to go on interviews and still keep up with your coursework.

Bottom line: It won't be easy to stay upbeat in a shaky job market. But a positive attitude and a few strategic maneuvers can make the difference between surviving and thriving in these uncertain times.

About the Authors

Donald Jacobson
Columnist
Don Jacobson is the president of Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters, a recruiting organization that specializes in the placement of management personnel in the logistics field on a nationwide basis. You can reach him by calling Optimum SCR at (800) 300-7609 or by visiting the firm's Web site, www.OptimumSCR.com.

More articles by Donald Jacobson
Shelley Safian
Columnist
Shelley Safian is vice president of marketing for Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters, a recruiting organization that specializes in the placement of management personnel in the logistics field on a nationwide basis. You can reach her by calling Optimum SCR at (800) 300-7609 or by visiting the firm's Web site, www.OptimumSCR.com.

More articles by Shelley Safian

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