Why cover letters are still relevant in supply chain management

By Alastair Pennie

Published on 19-10-2016

Why cover letters are still relevant in supply chain management

The Fourth Manufacturing Revolution is creating macroeconomic shifts. The new era of emerging and disruptive supply chain technologies brings a new scope of capabilities to the supply chain industry; increasing employment, productivity and growth. It’s also shaping a new talent model that impacts ‘active’ supply chain job seekers.

So what qualities sets a high calibre supply chain candidate apart from a mediocre one? A high impact cover letter is a good start.

Without doubt the conundrum “to cover letter or not to cover letter” continues to be a consideration for most applicants. For HR managers and recruiters however, written effectively, a cover letter has the power to sum up, in a single page, the reason why one applicant should make the shortlist.

Of course, it doesn’t tell the whole story - that’s your CV’s job - but it can emphasise your personal brand and set you apart from hundreds of other candidates.

Whether you have been in the industry for most of your career or are considering moving into a role within supply chain for the first time, you should aim to cover off the following skills and attributes in your cover letter. To position yourself as knowledgeable, experienced and relevant for the industry, focus on these key areas:

Supply Chain skills

  • Understanding of specialised function such as logistics planning or end-to-end supply chain

Business knowledge

  • International business practices, laws and regulations
  • General management and business

Numerical aptitude

  • P&L Management
  • Analytical interpretation


  • Workflow optimisation
  • Languages other than English (if relevant for global scope)

The Essentials

  1. Be realistic - determine what you’re qualified for now.
  2. Consider your true career goals - the industry is rapidly evolving, remember that.
  3. Create interest. Grab the reader’s attention - don’t be generic.
  4. Make it readable - that means be focused, clear and brief.
  5. Sell you and only you - this is your chance to stand out from the crowd.
  6. Be succinct and on-message - match your information to the role.
  7. End with a call to action - let the recipient know you would like to hear from them.

If you are applying for managerial level roles (and above) in supply chain, you should also consider including actual examples that demonstrate how you:

  • Have effectively-identified critical work-related issues.
  • Can work with and improve KPI's.
  • Have the capacity to monitor and assess the business.
  • Adaptable thinker with the ability to assess problems of a logistical nature.
  • You are up to date with industry technological trends.

“Most supply chain people aren’t great networkers. There is an opportunity for ambitious supply chain professionals to be more socially active and engage with professional networks in order to secure a new role quicker and be ahead of the competition”

Brand Appeal

Now and in the future, technological innovation will continue to positively impact efficiency and productivity within the supply chain industry. Businesses will evolve in new ways to innovate and will be looking for talent who can initiate and implement it.

As transportation and communication costs decrease, logistics and global supply chains will improve capabilities and develop new markets. In turn, job opportunities will open up and drive business growth forward.

So, beyond the basics, why not take some innovative license now and add your personal trademark into your cover letter for your job of the future. Building ‘brand appeal’ is essentially writing about yourself like advertisers’ profile new product or services - focusing on the features and benefits - of your capabilities.

Great ‘brand appeal’ builds on a generic description about yourself, for example, “qualitative skills” making it more conversational and relatable, so, “a problem solving and logical communication style that is critical for supply chain management because….”

Building a picture of your innovation capabilities through demonstrated experience will provide future employers with invaluable insight into how your skills will fit in with their future strategic plans.

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