Mitigate a Supply Chain Career Disaster

There's a fine line between a career that is thriving and one that is dying in supply chain chaos. Success depends on careful, ongoing career management.

Any disaster, whether it's a tornado, an explosion, or simply a new boss, can translate to career disaster. With the right planning, though, these changes can be a solid path to career advancement.

Gerry Fay, chief global logistics and operations officer for Avnet, in an article on EBNonline, made the statement that “companies created the greatest risk for themselves when they did not engage in robust risk assessment — essentially saying that not having such an assessment in place was tantamount to not planning.” Your career deserves the same risk management and planning.

Keeping your career fresh need not be an onerous chore. Consider adding a few of these activities to your list of must-do chores, and you will be one step closer to career safety.

Read, read, read
Set aside a minimum of one hour a week to read Internet articles about trends in the supply chain, especially in your area of expertise. EBNonline is an excellent source, but do not neglect standard business publications, including Huffington Post, The New York Times (especially the global business section), and the Wall Street Journal. Always stay on the lookout for other new and fabulous sources of new information.

Make sure your reading list includes newly released titles that will keep you abreast on the latest technologies and techniques. Read a book on SaaS, even if you think it's just another fad.

Use groups on LinkedIn
Update your LinkedIn profile regularly, but also join professional groups on LinkedIn and make an effort to regularly comment on what you read. If you quickly search for the term “supply chain group” on LinkedIn, you will see almost 5,000 potential groups. Don't be a passive reader in your selected groups. Respond to learn from others and create a digital footprint for building a broader reputation. Make sure to provide advice and resources to others, since you want to avoid being seen as simply a “taker.”

By regularly engaging in this way, you'll put yourself on the radar of recruiters, as well as put yourself in the best light when you apply for a job. After a recruiter receives your resume, s/he will probably begin the research by checking your online social media presence. A recent article in Forbes online magazine, titled “Recruiting Reinvented: How Companies Are Using Social Media in the Hiring Process,” provides much thoughtful insight into the importance of your digital footprint.

Mingle with purpose
You really do have to get out of the office once in awhile. “I've been too busy working to have any networking friends,” is an excuse I often hear from job seekers. However, having face-to-face contact with other people in the industry goes a long way to raising your profile and generating new contacts.

Attend one or two professional meetings or civic groups a month. Don't just take up space. Get to know people who know people. Whether you choose groups like CSCMP or Toastmasters, mingle to foster relationships. No weak handshakes, either!

Attitude reigns
Concentrate on making yourself memorable. “I've interviewed a few times in the past six months since I've been laid off. When I follow up, the recruiters don't seem to know who I am!” Sounds like this individual may need to improve his or her interviewing skills. Seek help from a friendly recruiter or a friend, but make sure you put yourself in the hands of someone who will be ruthless with feedback.

If you are conducting interviews, be mindful of how you treat potential candidates. Remember, the world keeps growing smaller. The candidate in front of you may be the hiring manager next time you look for a job.

If you are a candidate, ask for help, but not a job, when you contact someone with whom you've created a business relationship. People like helping one another. Make sure you lead with a positive attitude, even if you feel as if you have been treated unfairly during your search. A positive outlook may very well be the best tool for avoiding career disaster.

Change is inevitable. Whether you are a supply chain newbie or a 35-year career veteran, you can't count on career stability. Understanding personal risk management is as important as understanding the risks in your supply chain.

39 comments on “Mitigate a Supply Chain Career Disaster

  1. Ruth Glover
    June 26, 2013

    Thanks for making points with some humor!

  2. prabhakar_deosthali
    June 26, 2013

    In my opinion to be able to sustain in a disaster you have to be like those grass leaves as against the tall trees.  in a flood the tall stubborn trees are washed away whereas those flexible grass leaves survive.

    So bend yourself to the disaster  situations like for example “a new boss” . Understand his weaknesses by keeping yourself low and then have strategies to win over him.

  3. Ariella
    June 26, 2013

    @prabhakar_deosthali That's an essential component of engineering. Skyscrapers are designed to be able to move with the wind. “Most skyscrapers can easily move several feet in either direction, like a swaying tree, without damaging their structural integrity.” from 

  4. Ariella
    June 26, 2013

    @Rich I've heard of people who scan obits to look for housing opportunities, as the empty house or apartment will be coming on the market. I suppose the same principle could be applied to jobs if the person did not retire before making the obit.

  5. Tom Murphy
    June 26, 2013

    Rich: That's pretty cynical advice, friend.  How about this instead:  Ask yourself, what could I be doing to make myself more valuable in this job or better prepared to move on, whether I want to or not?  

    I think that strategy beats the hell out of waiting around for someone to die.

  6. Tom Murphy
    June 26, 2013

    And like in supply chain processes, there should always be a Plan B.

    If you are fired tomorrow for no good reason, do you already know what you'd do the next day? You probably should.

  7. Ariella
    June 26, 2013

    @Tom or at least have enough funds to keep you going when you don't have a full salary coming in. Unemployment doesn't match income.

  8. Tom Murphy
    June 26, 2013

    Ariella: There are to important rules of personal finance that sound unrealistic to new college grads, but they are very, very important:

    1. Always keep at least six months income in the bank.

    2. When you start your first job — no matter how low the pay — put aside 10% of your take-home in a retirement account.

    For the laid-off worker, that six months of salary is intended to help you avoid a career shift into the fast-food industry.

    These days, no matter how secure your job seems at any given moment, it's a good idea to always keep your resume updated, your business contacts active, and your ear out for other opportunities.

    Most people don't do that. They wait until they lose their job. Then they take a kind of “break” to “take a breather before the job hunt.” Then they start collecting unemployment and after a week, realize it's not enough. Then they start the job hunt — about 3-4 weeks after leaving their job.  That's way too long.

    The job hunt starts before you get laid off, even if you don't know it's coming. If you saved that six month's worth of salary, you might make it 9-12 months with that and unemployment — and that's only half as long as it takes the average skilled worker to find a job in today's economy.


  9. Ariella
    June 26, 2013

    @Tom exactly! People tend to be reactive rather than proactive about their careers. A contingency plan is essential to avoid maxing out credit cards and losing your home when a job doesn't work out. 

  10. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    June 26, 2013

    When a new boss comes in, there's always the fear that that person will want to bring in their own people. By positioning yourself as someoone with an understanding of the history of the organization and corporate culture, a williness to listen to new people, and enthusiasm for the job goes a long way to secure employment.

  11. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    June 26, 2013

    @prabhakar_deosthali: I think its a mistake to believe that a new boss is an enemy to be brought down. Perhaps amore balanced wait and see approach is warranted, seeded with caution of course. A new boss might be a real gift too!

  12. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    June 26, 2013

    OK all you young folks, Listen to Tom! He's absolutely right!

  13. Lavender
    June 26, 2013

    Opportunities and plan is important, but more important is to improve yourself constantly. If one makes progress and learn something valuable from every job, I think he can offset all changes whether a new boss, or a sudden lay-off. 

    It is reported that many companies can not get access to talent or suitable people, so for a man with experience, quick learning ability, opportunities abound. 

  14. Taimoor Zubar
    June 27, 2013

    Opportunities and plan is important, but more important is to improve yourself constantly.”

    @Lily: I'm also a big fan of self-learning and self-improvement. From my experience, most of the successful people I have come across have been the ones who observe around a lot and are able to improve themselves based on the gaps they find.

  15. Taimoor Zubar
    June 27, 2013

    By positioning yourself as someoone with an understanding of the history of the organization and corporate culture, a williness to listen to new people, and enthusiasm for the job goes a long way to secure employment.”

    @Hailey: I think it's easier said than done. Normally people tend to be very sticky to a particular way the company has been operating and this includes the culture as well. A new person at the top cannot change things in one go and people are naturally resistant to change. It takes a great while for anyone to transform the company.

  16. Taimoor Zubar
    June 27, 2013

    Ask yourself, what could I be doing to make myself more valuable in this job or better prepared to move on, whether I want to or not?  “

    @Tom: I think this depends on the person's personality. People who are go-getters are normally very highly motivated to figure out things they can do to make themselves more valuable. On the other hand, people with low locus of control tend to be the ones who need specific guidance and instructions before they can contribute to the organization.

  17. Ruth Glover
    June 27, 2013

    In a prior post I mentioned that updating your resume every six months helps you remember your accomplishments should the chaos mean a job transition. Staying in touch with people when they move to a different company or location maintains relatioships that can facilitate when you may be shown to the door.  


  18. Ruth Glover
    June 27, 2013

    Learning from new management is always important, even if you start looking for a new job immediately.  Perhaps you will find the new boss is willing to help you grow and learn new ways to do your job.  You may ultimately decide you don't want to look for a new position.

  19. hash.era
    June 27, 2013

    @Ruth: Yes that is a good point but with all these social media and professional networks like LinkedIn and FB coming into center stage, things do get updated instantly.   

  20. mormond
    June 27, 2013

    After reading these posts, I realize I must live on a different planet.  For example, saving 6 months salary as a “disaster/emergency” fund.  Well, I make the same wage I made at Motorola in the year 2000…..which was good back then.  Most salaries, at least in the US, have been, statistically, stagnant.  And, at the same time, we are told there is no inlfation except for on gasoline and food….which, I am not sure for you but for my family it means I have less money…..Increases in health insurance and the $300K hit I took in my 401K and ROTH IRA in 2008, well, my cushion is gone and I have little chance of getting it back.  Then, if you are at a company where a new “boss” has been brought in, I don't care how valuable you make yourself by doing this and that.  If they are intent on bringing in the people from the previous company who they perceive as loyal and crucial to their success, YOU WILL BE REPLACED.  It may take 6-12 months, after they have gleaned everything they can from you, but you'll be given your severance package, if you're lucky, and told that your job has been eliminated….or, someone will be brought in who is just gotten their graduate degree (I have a JD) and will be paid half of what you were making. I love seeing/hearing all this “fluffy” guidance that anyone with half a brain already knows.  I am simply stating the fact that the environment where all of that worked is GONE…..LONG GONE.  And, if your over 50, you are not even considered…..unless you work for one of the “top 100 companies” as listed in Forbes where employees really are treated as assets with experience and valuable talents and knowledge…….and even some of those top 100 companies are losing their luster as it all relates to shareholder value and quarter-to-quarter gains. We live in a different employment environment and we need to find new, innovative ways of making our value known and utilized rather than wasting a talented resource pool.  With the exception of looking in the obits, I saw nothing but the same old chatter here. To close, I am a very positive person with a pretty good outlook on life.  I just think there are many who need a good dose of reality about the current employment situation and think about ways to accommodate and thrive in this new reality. 

  21. Ruth Glover
    June 27, 2013


    If you get a financial package, you may be tempted to take more time than a week or two, which is not a good idea, as the longer you are out of work, the harder it seems to find employment.  However, you don't want to post your resume before your introspection and revisions are aligned with your goals and expertise.  Plus, you need to make a plan for where you will use this wonderful, polished resume.

  22. Ruth Glover
    June 27, 2013

    I am sad to hear your story and about many more similar stories but since you mention a good attitude, you probably will have far less challenge than someone who cannot cut the umbilicord.  I've seen that frequently with long term employees who love their 20-30 years of service to a company, but are laid off or offered early retirement.  The emotional impact creates a roller coaster which lasts longer for some than others.  And sometimes, even when you do “all the right things,” no one can explain why the search takes longer than expected.


  23. elctrnx_lyf
    June 28, 2013

    The world is a not definitely a place anymore where we can work few days and live on that for long in a same company. The market is so dynamic that it requires even very big companies to keep reviewing all the details very often and this could cause dissolving of business. Better be prepared anytime for the worst.

  24. ehcaneda
    June 28, 2013

    I give this 5 stars for being informative and timely. This is a must saved reference for those who want to revitalize their career.

    I read it somewhere that companies are using social networking site like LinkedIN to connect with other professionals and Entrepreneurs around the world.

    Young professionals must invest more time spending it into sites like LinkedIN,, Crowdsharing sites, sites like EBN, EDN in promoting thereselves not sites like Facebook, etc.. Although, I still use my facebook account in communicating my families and friends into daily basis but it doesn't yield so much professional growth or impact.

    What I learn from this is You have to get yourself connected and visible online. The internet is good platform to advertise yourself and grow your network (professionally and personally). As Ruth said, the world is getting smaller because of the information highway infra and its for free. Gone are the days that you need to attend parties and chitchats to expand your network.


  25. Ruth Glover
    June 28, 2013

    Wait a minute!  Although the social media sites are important for your digital profiles, you must still attend meetings to create relationships.  The statistics show that 80% of jobs are found through friends and colleagues, and relatives.  Starting to know someone online is fine, but the likelihood of actually referring you to a job or recommending you at his or her company happens more frequently when you have worked side by side in a previous company or perhaps met you at a professional or philanthropic endeavor.  The social media sites are tools, the same as a resume and other job search tools, but people, not just the Internet, help people find new opportunities.  


  26. ehcaneda
    June 28, 2013

    Yes Ruth, It is indeed a tool but with bigger worldwide coverage. Because of professional social networking sites like LinkedIN, I had a chance to discuss with other professionals who has a common interests with me.

    Yes it is true that friends and previous colleague's referral had bigger chances of landing a job/consultancies. It is also true that traditional meetings like Expo, seminars, etc is much more advantageous compare to other means.

    I really wish I can meet my counterparts in US or in China or Gernany often. Should I attend some of those big Technology Expo in California or in Shenzhen that would be a bigger exposure for me… But its costly and not every companies can afford to send their staffs. I do believe that social networking bridges many gaps that can reach larger audiences and mentors alike.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.. I do admire and respect your insights and expertise on this matter. 🙂

  27. Susan Fourtané
    June 29, 2013


    “the longer you are out of work, the harder it seems to find employment. “

    This seems to be a general situation everywhere. Why do you think the longer you are out of work, the harder it seems to find employment? 


  28. Ruth Glover
    June 29, 2013

    We all know that discrimination exists, whether too old, too young, too tall, too short, to shy, or too outgoing.  The person whose current skills are in demand will land quickly with a good online presence.

    Managers are keenly aware that hiring the wrong person affects the group and ROI. Most are being extraordinarily careful and taking longer than usual to make hiring decisions.  

    That's the simple answer.  Gaps evolve for a myriad of reasons: too much time on the computer, too much time networking with the wrong people, poor appearance, poor attitude, etc.  You fill in the blank.  I should probably write a book about why gaps evolve.  But there are gaps that just cannot be explained, too.

    I hope this helps!

  29. Houngbo_Hospice
    June 29, 2013

    @SF, I think the longer you are out of work, less qualified you become as your skills may no longer fit the present job requirements. But you are right, we should not make any generalization about that.

  30. Houngbo_Hospice
    June 29, 2013

    @Ruth, I understand your point. The skills in demand will likely found jobs faster, and after a certain time out of job, people should consider upgrading their skills. Not always easy, but there are many self taught courses online that may help. But it doesn't give you the experience potential recruiters may be looking for.

  31. Houngbo_Hospice
    June 29, 2013

    @ehcanada, I like your advice, but spending time promoting yourself on social platforms online may not help you if you don't have the required skills. Being visible online is great, but many other potential competitors are doing the same.

  32. Ruth Glover
    June 29, 2013

    You mention a good point.  Recruiters are looking for exactly what the hiring manager demands.  Finding people at your target companies to help you is important.  They may be able to “sell” you to the hiring manager.  

  33. dalexander
    June 30, 2013

    @Ruth…I really like your list and it really doesn't matter if you are protecting a career or not. This was a great list for personal development, job seeker or not. I found myself looking at your article and seeing where I did or didn't match up. With my iPad I subscribe to Bloomberg Business Week and also take in WSJ live every morning. Also i read China Daily for overseas news and several other periodicals on current business affairs and technology news. I would say I spend about an one and a half hours a day just reading. Popular Science has some really great tech introductions and Design News for the Nitty Gritty details on manufacturer new product introductions. Reading the various EBN posts connects me to an intelligent and interesting community and I find that I am in a continual learning mode when I read replies to my own blogs. I don't do Facebook or Tweet, but EBN and LinkedIn really round out my online social experience. Thanks for a great article.

  34. Ruth Glover
    June 30, 2013

    That's an impressive list of reading materials!  Thank you for the compliment and comment.

  35. Susan Fourtané
    July 1, 2013



    “I think the longer you are out of work, less qualified you become as your skills may no longer fit the present job requirements” 

    That makes sense; especially with everything changing so fast. 

    Yes, not even here generalizations are good. I was thinking of some people who have been unemployed for some long time, and find it hard to find a job. Some have kept on sending resumés with no luck. What you say makes sense, but some times it's not really the person's fault, is it? 

    On the other hand, some others take that time for learning new skills, or study something new for a career change. So, once again, I would say everything should be taken as an individual case. Well, I always prefer indivialism rather than a bag of generalizations. 🙂


  36. ehcaneda
    July 3, 2013

    @Hospice_Houngbo and Ruth,

    I learn a lot from your advises. The right person with the right skills will be hired.


  37. SunitaT
    August 1, 2013

    If you suddenly fired from a company, this is really difficult to get a new job instantly. You will have to keep patience, use social networking to get a right job. You will have to have great understanding about the market.

  38. Ruth Glover
    August 1, 2013

    Losing your job can be a good thing in your life, but you must treat looking for work as a job.  Get up, get dressed, get the plan in hand for the day and get going!

  39. John F. Predmore
    July 8, 2014

    There is no alternative of knowledge and reading article, books, journal enrich your knowledge. I have a LinkedInd profile, but I do not update this regularly. I will follow your tips to keep my career bright as pevious. You may visit to know more tips on how to keep your career alive. Thanks for your sharing.

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