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Logistics recruitment - market update July 2015

Market overview

The market in logistics recruitment underwent a significant upsurge in 2014 and this growth has continued during the first half of 2015. Organisations operating across the logistics spectrum, whether in-house, 3PL or parcel carriers are constantly looking to add to their management grade workforce at all levels.
This growth has been driven by the continued expansion of the UK economy together with the success of the UK employment market. It is important to note, however, that this is not the only factor at play contributing to this growth. There has been a strong push by employers during the last 18 months to upskill their management workforce. Combined with the skill shortage that exists across the logistics and distribution industry, this has resulted in high levels of competition for the best candidates.

Hot topic: round the clock and weeklong staffing

Consumers’ increasing service expectations, shortened delivery times and seven day delivery have amplified the requirement for round the clock and weeklong staffing. The result is that many distribution operations now require management cover throughout the day and week and we have seen a significant increase in shift based positions. Many candidates are limited by their family/personal life and are unwilling to work such hours. This presents a real challenge to recruiters, as finding suitably qualified candidates willing to work shifts can be difficult.
This trend presents an obstacle in the attraction and retention of the very best candidates in the medium to long term. Will they want to work in key operational roles if it requires extremely flexible working? Will salaries have to go up as a result?  This is part of a wider debate around ‘cost to serve’, particularly in the fulfilment/home delivery arena. 
What is certain is that candidates that are flexible around working hours and days will see a significant increase in opportunities available to them. 

Talent attraction and retention - top five sought after job types

1. Transport management professionals: skilled transport professionals with both the technical knowledge of transport and the people skills to motivate a large workforce remain in high demand at all levels
2. Junior warehouse/shift managers: demand for shift based warehouse managers is constant
3. Depot general managers: the DGM is the pivotal role in many distribution operations. As the leader of a significant number of people and the holder of a large budget, the DGM plays a vital part in the success of any distribution operation. This group of logistics professionals in particular have seen the most significant salary increase of any job type over the last 18 months.
4. Solutions design professionals: The desire to optimise distribution networks and warehouse operations amongst both in-house and 3PL organisations has lead to solutions design professionals being in significant demand in 2015. With it being a niche skill set that requires strong technical knowledge; there is a significant shortage of suitably qualified candidates.
5. Programme/project management professionals: As a result of technological advancements, raised consumer expectations and desire for operating efficiency, many distribution networks are currently undergoing a significant period of change. These programmes of change require careful management resulting in project/programme managers, on both an interim and permanent basis, remaining in significant demand. 

Top three tips for employers looking to attract quality candidates in a short-skilled market

1. Operate a well structured and concise interview process: the best interview processes are well managed while all stakeholders are well informed throughout. Having an open ended or unclear recruitment process risks disengaging your best candidates.
2. Actively promote your organisation: good candidates are likely to have other competing offers and will need to be convinced as to why they should work for you. Make sure to actively promote your organisation and the position throughout the process.
3. Be open to transferable skills: many companies are very focused on securing a candidate with prior experience in the sector they are working in. In order to broaden your choice of candidates, be open minded about considering individuals from a different sector who have transferable soft/hard skills.


Logistics is one of our top performing sectors this year and has just enjoyed its best ever quarter by some margin. Placements were up 20% against Q1 and over a third on the same period last year. Around one third of new placements were made in the transport and distribution and retail industries while over a third of new roles are now located in the Midlands.

Placements per sectorPlacements per region


Other trends of note show that while placements in junior and middle management have fallen, a spike at the senior end of the market shows growing confidence at that level. Almost half of the placements we make in this industry are with larger clients and multinationals while placements with SMEs were down this quarter.

Placements per salary range Placements per company size

Candidate behaviour

There has been a significant increase in the number of counter offers that the best candidates are receiving.  Clients can prevent these situations by preparing the ground earlier on in the recruitment process. Are you clear on the candidate’s motivations for looking for a move? Do you have all the information on their current salary package and how it compares to yours? Have you asked the candidate how they would respond in the event of a counter offer? Working with a professional and competent recruiter is absolutely essential in addressing these questions.  

Looking ahead

Throughout the remainder of the year we expect to see a significant increase in demand for interim managers as logistics operations temporarily increase management staff in readiness for the peak trading period. Many organisations now use this approach to successfully manage labour costs across the year. This ensures they have the correct depth of management staff when they are needed most and are not carrying excess permanent headcount during off-peak trading. 
Are you looking to take the next step in your logistics career? Are you looking to hire logistics professionals? Or are you simply looking for some further advice on the logistics recruitment market? Contact Ben Lyons, Operating Director at Michael Page Logistics for a confidential discussion.
T: +44 121 230 9361