Logistics – Meeting The Challenges

Jayne Nutting is Vice President of Resourcing at DHL Supply Chain. Civvy Street spoke with her about her major recruitment challenges and why she admires Service-leavers.

What are the toughest challenges that you face in the logistics sector at the moment?

What I would say is that we’re in a very competitive market. (I don’t want to dwell on the economic situation because it feels like we’ve been talking about that for many years now.) It’s still a challenging market to operate in as a business and added to that there’s the ongoing ‘war for talent,’ if I could use such strong words. The competition for talented people is stronger than ever. They’re our key challenges really.

Do you admire the logistical operations that the Armed Forces undertake?

Yes, of course, but I think ‘logistics’ is a really an interesting label to call what we do in supply chain – certainly DHL supply chain, because the wide range of services that we offer to our customers goes far beyond anything you’d think of traditionally as just logistics. So we may label it as logistics but when we look more closely at it the wide variety is astounding really, even for people that are used to it. So yes, I think we’d obviously look in awe almost at what happens in those kinds of (Military) logistics operations and there are clearly transferable skills that are relevant to our business, globally, not just in the UK.

Jayne Nutting  copyDo you feel that there might be (professional) cultural parallels in your business with the way that the Military operates? Words like precision, timing and efficiency spring to mind.

I think that’s true but there are cultural differences in every organisation before you even start to look at the private sector and the public sector. One of the things that we have been aware of in the past is how we try to smooth the transition. We’ve got a number of ex-Military employees that are settled into our organisation and are doing well, but one of the things we’ve learnt, is that we do need to smooth the transition because the cultural differences are probably just a little bit more (challenging) than they would appear on the face of it.

Nevertheless, it seems that you actively encourage applications from Service-leavers.

Absolutely; I’ve already mentioned transferable skills and one of our aims as a talent offering across the organisation is to deepen the core skills that we rely on. Very often people think in terms of ex-Military just in terms of ‘you’re going to want drivers’. Yes we do, of course we do, and they’re very valuable but there’s so much more to it than that.

Any level of transferable skill is very interesting to us. We are interested in cultural diversity as well because different ideas are good to bring to the table and there’s no doubt that somebody from a Military background will bring different influences and viewpoints to someone who has spent 15 years in logistics in the private sector, for example. We’re also very well aware of the quality of training – that discipline and precision that you can get from somebody that comes out of the Armed Forces. They would be attractive to any employer but particularly for DHL supply train.

DHL-LogoSome Service-leavers are utterly new to the process of finding a job. What would be your advice to them in terms of showcasing their transferable skills?

We’ve also done some work with groups including CTP in the past to really try to get Service-leavers to see not necessarily just what DHL Supply Chain are looking for but broader – what do employers look for in a CV? Sometimes it’s really useful to understand how a recruiter views a CV because someone who looks at CVs day-in day-out would view them very differently from a hiring manager, for example.

The one thing that I would advise is to make it (the CV) easy to read for a start, make sure it tells the story of your experience, which is very important to follow. Then it needs to have a very clear, well structured layout. In terms of achievements, it’s really useful to be able to quantify them; so if you’ve been involved in a project that’s delivered a benefit whether it’s a time, speed, accuracy or cost benefit, then put numbers on that so that we can get an idea of the scale that you’ve been involved in, that’s really important.

The other really important thing is that one CV is not suitable for all purposes and when a recruiter is receiving anything up to 100 applications for each role, your CV will need to match quite closely to the requirements that are in the role profile within the job advert. That might mean changing some terminology, not lying or embellishing, just making sure that the terminology fits with the role. So use your CV to describe how you meet the role.

My other advice would be, don’t expect a well crafted cover letter to compensate for a CV that isn’t quite up to the mark.

I’ve seen an interview with you where you’ve said that individuals that have an impact on the business are rewarded for doing so.

I think again, we’re a complex organisation and not one size fits all but there are a number of ways where you can feel that your impact is being recognised. We run a number of recognition schemes for a start and our training and development programmes provide options to progress through a series of training that is at times accredited and then for the management grades we also have a performance related bonus.

What’s does the long term future of the sector look like?

I think we’ve seen, if we’re talking about market, general trends towards more and more online which is obviously of a benefit to us. It’s a change to our business, so some parts of the business are busier and other parts are quieter just because there’s been a shift to online. I think the key thing for us in the next two years will be change. I don’t think it ever stands still but the market is changing more rapidly.

Regarding retail, you do have the trend of more discounts and more discount retailers and therefore we’re shipping more products that are at a lower value, so the margins will be really squeezed so the challenge to us is how can we be more efficient for our customers? That’s before we start looking at all of the industrial areas that we service as well. Their service to their end customer is changing and we need to keep pace with that and help them deliver what they need.

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