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How to approach finding your next Supply Chain role

Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Keith Hallam. 

Keith is responsible for leading the performance and continuous improvement of the EU Supply Chain for ASR Group, Tate & Lyle Sugars. His career is varied, with over 30 years of Supply Chain experience with businesses including British Sugar, Müller, Asda, Morrisons, and Carlsberg.

After recently going through the process of securing a new supply chain job, Keith shares his experiences, tips, and advice on approaching the market.

What was your initial plan when approaching the job market?

“In May 2017, it was clear that as 2018 approached and commenced I would need to change businesses. As a senior supply chain leader/director, I knew there would only be a few opportunities available. I needed to take stock and assess who I was, what I wanted, what I was capable of, and what stretch was realistic including knowing where my learnings were.

Basically, knowing myself so that as I engaged with contacts new and old, I knew what my sales pitch was, what I wanted and didn’t want, and what my approach was going to be. I also tapped into a couple of senior figures as mentors to bounce my approach off … thanks Paul A and Duncan L!”

“After understanding my approach, I took time to initially reach out to a key handful of contacts who had all gone through significant changes in their careers – not all recent, not all for the good, but all with the valuable experience I could learn from! 

I then took the task to as many people in my network as possible. I spoke to a lot of people and then, in turn, I gained new people to talk to so continued to develop these conversations.”

What tools did you use to seek out new opportunities – job boards, recruiters, your own network?

“At a senior level, I found very few of the roles are advertised so I kept an eye out for those that were on the key job boards and LinkedIn – but knew opportunities would arise through my network both old and new.”

How important was utilising your network, past and present?

“Very, not only utilising my current network but also tapping into a new network too. My approach was in 3 steps:

Information: It was surprising how many of my contacts had been contacted about roles or knew of businesses for me to talk to, which opened up leads and conversations about roles, and this alone developed my network.

Advice: Being humble and asking for advice is simple, human, and showed my vulnerability. It also meant I wasn’t arrogant and was open and listened. Again, not only did I learn a lot by having more eyes and ears on my situation, but I also matured my approach as these conversations developed.

Contacts: I wasn’t afraid to ask for more and new contacts! People in my network helped me develop a wider network. At no time did I ask for a role! Ask open questions not closed ones!”

Regardless of what level you operate at, changing jobs can be an arduous process. What was your thought process when approaching your change?

“I needed to get my base right. I knew as soon as you speak to someone that one of the actions coming from the conversation would be ‘send us your CV’, so I needed to make sure this ‘shouted’ me out. One of the first people I spoke to recommended a CV writer. I saw him, we spent the day together and he helped me get more action-orientated speak on my actions, outcomes, and history. I then took this and tailored this framework into my own document. Don’t forget your CV is personal and unique but it does need to be clear, precise, and relative to the roles you are wanting. This did take some time to get to a finished article and I’d say your CV is always evolving.”

Did you have any frustrations along the way?

“Yes, and loads! I met a lot of people, not just recruiters but also people in businesses. Having spent a lot of time taking the time to present myself, it was amazing how many I ended up chasing more than once over several weeks, including chasing the action plan we agreed on. Some failed to call back, answer emails, and to fulfil their part of our agreement.”

What advice would you give to someone in a similar situation to you?

“Utilise your network: search agents, head-hunters, recruiters, key personnel in businesses, colleagues from previous businesses, their network, etc. The more key senior people you speak to, the more opportunities arise! Remember not every conversation or meeting about potential opportunities will result in a hire! I experienced several roles that as you start the process, by the end of it a few weeks later things can change; either an internal appointment comes up, a left-field appointment is made, the role disappears, or is put on hold for lots of reasons.  

Keep notes! Multiple conversations mean if you do not diarise and keep notes you can lose track of the conversations and timing.

Finally, keep going. Take time to plan your approach. Know yourself, know your approach, and know when you’ll change that approach.”

Work with Distinct

At Distinct, our recruitment specialists match professionals to their ideal opportunities across the UK. Contact us today to learn how we can support you to take the next step in your supply chain career.


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