Hardest time to Hire since 2000!

By Brett Schurman | 10/03/2017 | 11:18 AM

My boss recently handed me an article titled “U.S. job openings at record high; qualified workers scarce.” It was released by Reuters in September. I figured since I was now writing a blog for DC Velocity on the topic of recruiting and retention, this would be a great introduction to the readers, as well as a great opportunity to point out the strength, or weakness, of our labor sector.

The information in the article was from the Labor Department and was gathered by a survey called the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or “JOLTS.”

The Numbers

In short, it talks about how the job market is the strongest it has been since the year 2000. Guess what sector they said the biggest shortage is in? Yep, you got it; right where this is going to hurt the most: Logistics, Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities. According to the survey, there were 70,000 more openings in this sector in July than there were in June. If you were to question this, think about Amazon.com, they are hiring 100,000 people in FY 2017 alone, and that number could grow.

If we look at the fundamentals, the Bureau of Labor Statistics latest numbers have unemployment hovering between 4.3% and 4.4% since April. Another statistic we can source is the Federal Reserve’s move to continue increasing the cost to borrow money to an estimated 2% base rate up from 0% where it was for most of the recovery from the “Great Recession.” These are all strong indicators of a robust economy, and distribution, transportation, and logistics are at the tip of the spear!

Effect on Employers and Non-Exempt

This data all adds up to a squeeze on good talent for both exempt and non-exempt employees. A recent conversation with a Director of Domestic Supply Chain Human Resources for a 15B dollar retailer tells me with their peak season in full swing, they have had to increase the average hourly rate just to get the seasonal associates they need to meet productivity goals. Another distribution and fulfillment center I have touched bases with recently has not been as lucky; they are still 200+ employees short for peak and are working on contingent plans to possibly shift volume to other centers in their network if they cannot attract the proper amount of labor. This is not a new trend. Distribution and Logistics has been on a hiring tear for the past 5 years and there is no slow-down in sight. If you haven’t prepared your executive team for an up-coming wage survey, or haven’t done one in the past two years, now is the time to get started laying the groundwork.

Effect for Employees and Exempt

As for exempt employees, there is a strong shortage of good leaders. Everyone in retail, wholesale, and finished good distribution are struggling to hire qualified applicants, especially in the fulfillment sector; transportation and parcel delivery is very much in the same boat. As fulfillment gains popularity over traditional retail, distribution centers are having to shift focus to fulfilling orders that are placed online and employers are wanting to hire people with that specific skillset.

In recent years, I personally have seen great candidates kicked out of hiring processes because they do not have experience in “fulfillment.” So, it isn’t that there are not good managers with skills on the market, but more-so that employers are wanting a candidate with a specific software, process, or piece of technology that differentiates them from others.

Summary for anyone in Distribution

To sum up the sentiment of this article, if you are a hiring manager, get ready to adjust the way you attract talent to your team. If you are a salaried employee, now is a great time to make a move because demand for your skillset is at a nearly 18-year high. And finally, wages will continue to grow for hourly labor because of the law of supply and demand so get out there and see who is paying!

Thanks for hanging with me on my first of many blogs to come in DC Velocity. If you have any suggestions for future articles or would like to contribute to the recruiting and retention blog feel free to contact me directly:

Brett Schurman
Senior Supply Chain Recruiter

So you think nobody's hiring during peak huh?

By Brett Schurman | 11/02/2018 | 7:48 AM

“I’ll wait till after peak to begin my job search; nobody is hiring right now anyway.” This phrase has been uttered or thought by countless candidates approaching peak season in logistics, distribution, fulfillment and the greater supply-chain.

I am here to tell you this statement can be true for some companies, but, not in most cases. Companies always need to be on the lookout for good talent! Further, if a company is interviewing during peak, they are in serious need of your service. That, or they have peak season on cruise control; but show me that company and I will show you my pet unicorn!

It is a common misunderstanding that companies do not hire in November and December. The general candidate pool believes that companies are too busy to hire so they in turn put their search on hold till Q1. So why do people believe this miss-conception. Here are a few reasons I have heard:

  • Hiring authorities are so busy they don’t have time to interview.
  • Everyone is on vacation around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • There is no money in the budget at the end of the year.


Let’s take a closer look at these three reasons given:

  1. “Hiring Authorities are busy.” First, are hiring authorities busy? Heck yes, they are busy! But if a company is down 3 supervisors or a shift manager going into peak, or during peak, you can bet they will make time to meet you. Another angle is that people believe everyone is in peak right now. This is very far from the truth. Do you think the distribution center for Proctor and Gamble is in peak right now for that HUGE bump in diaper sales for Christmas? How about auto parts retailers and wholesalers; No one is giving auto parts as a gift! The message is not every company is peak during Q4.
  1. “Everyone is on vacation the week of Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas.” Huh? This is peak! This is where the money is made. Most companies have “blackout” dates during November and December meaning no one gets PTO. It’s all hands-on deck. Maybe the team in sourcing can get a couple of days off, but if you are in any other part of the supply chain, you are most likely working during these months.
  1. “There is no money in the budget at this time of the year.” This is true, it can be very true, but retail is made or broken in the last three months of the year. That said, I cite the example above of the facility down three or four leaders and would tell you that company needs to fill those roles even if it moves some numbers around in the budget. Furthermore, if they are open requisitions, the positions are in the budget already.


These are just some of the comments and misconceptions I hear from candidates with whom I speak daily. My advice to those seeking a position in Q4 is to leave your foot on the gas pedal; every company is not in peak, and the ones that are and need people, are still hiring.

Until we connect again, happy hunting!

Brett Schurman
Senior Supply Chain Recruiter

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Brett Schurman

Brett Schurman

Brett Schurman is a recruiter who focuses in the distribution, fulfillment, and greater supply chain field. Brett has long-standing relationships with some of the largest retail and wholesale companies in the United States. He focuses on placing professionals in positions ranging from Supervisor to Senior Vice President. In 2018, after 16 years of working for one of the largest recruiting firms in the world, Brett opened up Schurman Executive Recruiting (SER) to continue servicing the distribution and fulfillment market.


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