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Logistics, transport and supply chain industry overview

Erin Delaney

Careers Commentator
Old models of business are being impacted by market disruptors, but there are plenty of opportunities for cool-headed, adaptable grads that can respond quickly to change.

Managing and moving materials, goods and services by rail, air, road or sea has become a complex business. As the world becomes more connected, it has never been so potentially complicated to get something or someone from point A to point B quickly, safely and efficiently. Add to that, disruption by players like Uber and the use of drones in deliveries, and you’ve got a melting pot of both increasing complexity and automation impacting on the industry.

Most employment options for grads can be found in logistics and distribution companies, manufacturers, transport companies, courier services, retail and consumer good chains. Support functions play a key role in company performance, particularly financial, HR and marketing.

The average entry-level package is $57,500, and the average industry hours are 45 hours per week, providing an average level of value for hours worked.

Job market outlook

Well-established logistics and freight companies are experiencing difficulty satisfying their customers’ full range of new preferences. Their networks, skills, physical assets and services are a product of historic market conditions and expectations. A new breed of competitors are carving off bits and pieces of the sector, offering focused services that some look upon as providing more innovation and value than the wider, but less targeted, offerings of the established models of business.

The exponential growth of online sales, as more of the world becomes connected to the internet, have led many traditional retailers to get involved in the transport and supply end of the business, which means plenty of opportunities for new roles and responsibilities. Conversely, transport companies are tapping into the retail market, with the likes of Uber launching food and product delivery platforms.

Online platforms and local networks are also pushing prices down, with competition entering the market where there was very little before. Disruptive start-up service Sendible decreased their prices on the same day Australia Post pushed out their ACCC-approved increase. There has also been an aggressive push of Toll and TNT into the market, along with the entry of newer competitors, such as Officeworks’ Mailman.

The rapid rise of both technological advances and the conscious consumer makes it difficult to predict future trends in this industry, as all past trends have relied on old-world data that is no longer applicable. Graduates who have excellent problem-solving, technological, analytical and customer service skills will thrive no matter what shape the landscape of this industry evolves to take.

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How to get hired

Being prepared to work in different locations or work unusual hours will hold you in good stead, as the industry moves to a 24-hour model. The lower on the totem pole you are, the more likely you will be offered shifts or role locations older workers may not be able to or want to work, so being flexible will give your application a big boost.

Do your research on how general market conditions are impacting on the company you’re applying to, and demonstrate this in your cover letter and when you’re invited to interview. It will show the recruiter you take the business seriously, and will know when and how to respond to a change quickly and intuitively.

Highlight any business experience you’ve had on your CV; if you’ve held a fast-food job, point out that you were responsible for stock control and rostering, which will show your ability to analyse and organise moving parts of a business. If you’ve worked in an office, customer service and administrative skills will take you a long way towards your goal too.

Key skills you need

Disruptive thinking

With so many new business models entering the market, the ability to find efficiencies, change workflows, adapt to new market pressures and re-engineer a system are invaluable skills to employers hoping to continue thriving in the new economy.

Business acumen

While striking a deal with a low-cost local network might seem like a great way to cut costs, the time it takes to manage the partnership might create more difficulty than it’s worth — these are the kinds of decisions that you can be faced with, and knowing how to navigate deals is all part and, ah, parcel.

Stakeholder management

In an industry dominated by partnerships, alliances and — at the end of the day — servicing customers, good stakeholder management and people skills are a must.

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