Job Search Tips

September 16th, 2011

A significant percentage of my trusted and valued friends and business colleagues have gone through some sort of job transition or search in the last 3 years, and I’ve picked up a few tips I thought I’d share.

1. Stand out in the crowd – if you are one of 1,000 (which hasn’t been unusual), there is NO other way to proceed. What can you do to differentiate yourself from the competition?

2. Be there first – by the time an ad shows up on-line (as newspapers are a thing of the past too), it is usually too late. Instead, you need to find the job openings before they show up in the typical places.

3. The power of relationships – undoubtedly, 80%+ of my contacts achieved success through relationships (a referral, a recruiter they kept in touch with, a business colleague who remembered them after receiving a note etc.)

4. Linked In – there is an amazing trend towards Linked In. Not only are recruiters searching Linked In, but it is a great repository for your profile, references/ recommendations, etc.

5. Provide value – the most successful job seekers provided value. One poured through search engines and sent appropriate leads to other colleagues searching for a job. One provided referrals. Etc…..

Emerging Hot Topic – Transportation

September 15th, 2011

With the price of fuel rising 30% from January to early June, transportation costs are rising in importance again. According to 80% of the finance chiefs interviewed by the Duke University/ CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook survey, high oil prices are hurting their business.

I quickly learned that my operational cost was largely dependent on oil and gas prices – even though it didn’t appear that it would be at first glance – an article for another day. However, it is becoming urgent to address your transportation function from a strategy standpoint. During the recession, it was a competitive environment with minimal to no profits built in for the carriers. It has been a tough environment for transportation providers – new environmental laws, rising fuel prices, price pressure on freight rates, etc.

Think about your strategy now. Are you treating your transportation suppliers like partners or vendors? I wouldn’t be surprised if the market turns and it becomes tough to find a reliable carrier with a good service record. Will you be in partnership and be able to maintain service levels while your competitors struggle? Don’t be penny wise, pound foolish.

Got Cash?

September 12th, 2011

You wouldn’t think so from the way companies are hoarding cash; however, in general, they have a stockpile of cash and remain leery to spend it. Last year, there was a 2% decrease in days working capital (DWC), according to CFO Magazine. Not significant by any means. Interestingly, all three components (days sales outstanding, days inventory outstanding and days payables outstanding) reported weak improvement.

One of my core areas is to help companies accelerate cash flow through inventory reduction programs, profitability and productivity improvement programs, collaborate customer and supplier programs etc. Every dollar freed up = a dollar which can be invested to grow the business and/or earn a significant return. For example, by reducing unnecessary inventory levels while maintaining customer service levels, one company was able to invest in new equipment to upgrade the core product line in order to rapidly grow sales. On the other hand, I’m sometimes called in to help resolve inventory reduction programs which have gone awry – it is easy to reduce the wrong inventory in the wrong place at the wrong time and extend customer lead times, damage service levels, etc. A fine balance!

A few benchmarks for your reading pleasure:
Aerospace & defense Median DIO – 53 (days inventory outstanding)
Building products Median DIO – 42
Computers & peripherals Median DIO – 32
Food products Median DIO – 39
Paper & forest products Median DIO – 51