We no longer go through the three traditional stages of life :education, work and retirement it is therefore more likely we will experience some type of gap during our careers.Returners include: family caregivers,stay at home parents,students and retirees.
Why would someone choose supply chain over other career options after a gap in the workforce?
There are so many excellent reasons to consider :Development of transferable skillsShortage of employeesAdvancement opportunitiesVariety of positionsCompetitive salariesGrowth of e-retailing is creating new opportunitiesTravelIndustry optionsInternship optionsRewardingNot likely to get bored on the jobTake upgrading courses while being employed Before I had left the workforce I had completed my principles courses for the PMAC designation but had not continued while I was at home.After having the privilege of staying home with our three boys for 12 years we made a family decision that I would return to work. I gave myself a year to get back into the workforce and then started my journey.I asked myself how am I going to approach this and how and where do I start?
I took the problem solving steps for case studies and combined that with a gap Analysis and started my journey.When I attended the first Supply Chain event – Sustainability event upon deciding to return to work I told myself you are just like them. The only difference is your pass doesn’t have a company name listed under your name.
I looked at this event as an opportunity to present myself as a peer to the other attendees. I prepared for this event by getting professional with my appearance:got a hair cut,bought a new suit,created a network card,got my free pass and gave myself a pep talk that I could introduce myself to as many attendees as possible.
I hopped on the Go train and spent the next 45 minutes convincing myself I could do this after being home for 12 years. I arrived at the event and stood back and gave myself a once over to make sure I was good…I told myself you are just like them only you don’t have a company on your hello tag….now let’s go find an opportunity.
It was nerve racking to walk into the large room full of a couple hundred professionals and vendors with their booths. I challenged myself to meet as many people as I could and hand out my network card. I had brought a couple hundred cards with me in my portfolio.
I started talking to as many as I could and one of the ladies I spoke with was very interested in my journey. She was the editor of PurchasingB2B magazine which is now Supply Pro and is distributed across Canada. We talked for awhile and then she asked me if I would like to write an article. I accepted and was thrilled to have such an opportunity.
I was so excited it was a challenge to sit through the rest of the event and sit through the train ride home. I did not get any job offers from the event but did hear of a few upcoming opportunities.
In doing my gap analysis combined with the problem solving format I identified companies in the area which were doing well,looked at which positions they were hiring for and the common three skills listed. I compare this to my skill set and the three that were common and then developed my plan.
I needed to upgrade my skills in the most cost effective and time efficient manners possible as we had three little boys still at home.
I asked for manuals for PowerPoint and Visio as gifts and taught myself these over the summer, I did online typing tutorials, I took some free one day beginner word and excel courses at an adult learning centre just to refresh myself. While at the adult learning centre I inquired about the advance level courses as most postings required intermediate to advance level office suite programs. I had previously taken these in college many years before. I looked at the manuals and thought I could save a lot of time and money by just jumping into the advanced courses. They were one week long each which was great to quickly get these skills updated. I signed up and was very successful in completing both.
I continued to search for opportunities by cold calling companies and networking. One of the local companies I contacted and left a voice mail with their Human Resources contact returned my call.
The Human Resources lady stated they didn’t have anything currently but asked me to send my resume to her attention. I sent my resume to her and thought I won’t likely hear back. I was pleasantly surprised when she called back and said please come in for an interview.
I reached out to my contacts and sent them my resume and asked for their support as references. I researched both the company and the two individuals which were interviewing me. I got in a positive mindset told myself I could do this and off I went with my network card,new suit,copies of my resume, copies of a communications presentation I had done for my last requirement to get my certificate in purchasing along with my Visio time I created plotting my one year plan to return to work.
The interview went very well, I had a lot of fun. I look at interviews as a research project where I find out as much as possible about the company and then want to find out if it’s a good fit. I am glad I did my research as during my interview they asked if I knew anything about the company and I said yes…they then said ok let’s turn this around and you ask us the questions about our company. We laughed and had a great time. I ended up getting the position. It was an entry level customer service position.
They had a great three month training program which was very intensive and included an online university module with technical specifications. We were to complete two courses per month on the module and I took the opportunity to complete all 50 in the three months I was a CSR. They also offered the opportunity to job shadow fellow CSR S. While job shadowing I wanted to see what each individual CSR did that made their day easier: how they filled out reports, got through their emails, how they found technical specifications quickly, what did they do to just get through their day.
I was approaching the end of my training and had put myself in the best position to move forward into the planning department which was really where I wanted to be within a year of getting back to work. I had visualized being in the planning department in the near future when one of the planners announced she was leaving the company.
I was so excited the opportunity to move into planning was now available. I approached my boss and stated that I would like to apply and would she approve me to apply. She was not really happy that I wanted to move on but understood this was where I really wanted to be… I told her that I would be able to help her team more on the planning side and she approved my request.
I contacted my references again and sent them my updated resume, got out my purchasing notes and reviewed them, got in the mindset of being on the planning side of the business and went to the interview. I was successful in getting into the planning department.
Now I turned my focus on getting my CSCMP designation as I now was in a position financially and professionally to continue on with the workshops,In residence week and final exam.
I gave myself one year to find a supply chain position closer to home as I was commuting, doing my designation online and our boys were still young and participating in after school activities it was challenging to keep up.
One Sunday I came home from attending one of the workshops and thought that’s it I really need to be closer to home. I googled Supply Chain Analyst Whitby and thought nothing will be available and was surprised when a local position 15 minutes from our home was posted.
I sent off my resume and cover letter thinking again I likely would not hear back. I go to work on Monday and it was the Mondayest of Mondays…raining,dull and dreary. I’m tired and I just want to get home… I start driving home and my phone rings. I pull onto a side street as this was before I had Bluetooth in my car and answer the phone expecting it to be one of the kids… It was the VP of the local company I had just sent my resume to the night before.
We talked for a few minutes and he said I think you are a good fit for this position, I agreed and then he mentioned the salary range. We were a little ways apart on this … I stated this seems like a good fit for both of us could we meet and discuss other forms of compensation which may bring us closer to an agreement. He said sure and we met for an interview.
I prepared the same way as I had previously and brought along my published article as well. We had a great interview and agreed to communicate further by email as he was very busy and I was in an open office environment. We went back and forth a bit on the salary but agreed on the additional forms of compensation during the interview.
I started seven and a half years ago as a Supply Chain Analyst and progressed to a Planner and now to my current position as Supply Chain Manager with my CSCMP designation.
About the Author:
Who I am
My goal is simple – to help others get back to work after a gap with a focus on negotiating.
My passion for negotiating has positioned me to present and motivate people on the topic of getting back to work with a focus on negotiating beyond salary.
✅ Speaker at One Woman Fearless Summit – May 2018
✅ Speaker at Take the Lead Women in Supply Chain – Feb 2019
✅Speaker at A Celebration of Women, IWD 2019 – March 2019
✅Speaker at DevTO – April 2019
✅Speaker at iRelaunch Return to Work Conference – June 2019
✅Speaker at One Women Fearless Summit – July 2019
✅ Featured articles in PurchasingB2B,Supply Professional – supplypro.ca
✅ Featured in an interview “Success Strategies for Getting Back to Work” – Girl Warrior Productions.com
✅ Guest speaker on 3,2,1 iRelaunch Pod Cast – “Creating an Effective Return to Work Plan” with Lisa Fenton,CSCMP –
✅ Certified Supply Chain Management Professional (CSCMP)