I ended part one of my story about reskilling for a return to procurement with a story of putting myself out there to an HR manager. Here is where part two begins:
Reskilling for a Return to Procurement Continued
Not too long after, the HR manager called back and said we don’t have any planning opportunities right now but wanted to know if I would be interested in coming in to interview for a customer service position. It was local and not too far of a commute, and I thought it was at least an opportunity to gain some experience. I also reasoned that they did have a planning department, and drawing a regular paycheck would allow me to pay for my courses to get my designation.
In short, it isn’t always a straight line to your end goal.
Look at Interviews as Opportunity
Now, this is going to sound funny, but I love interviews. I look at them as an opportunity to see if it’s a good fit not just for the company but for me. I treat them like a research project. I want to know if they have proper equipment and tools to work with, support continuing education reimbursement, have goodwill in the industry, and support sustainability.
I researched the company, the individuals interviewing me, and other customer service positions to get a feel for responsibilities and salary ranges. I reached out to previous co-workers and bosses for support, asking for their references. I also sent them my resume and cover letter.
I arrived at the reception area and talked for a while with the receptionist about kids and the challenges of snowsuits and bundling them up for school and everyday mom issues.
The two individuals who were going to interview me approached, and we walked through the main office to a corner office for the interview. I felt positive as I was dressed like them.
They handed me their business cards, and I proudly shared my “personal” networking card with them. I brought along printed versions of a recent case study I had done for a communications workshop and brought a timeline I created from Visio. The timeline was my game-plan plotted out with my training milestones noted within the chart with a one-year timeframe.
I explained how I used the problem-solving steps to create my game plan and a gap analysis tool to ensure I could achieve my training within my budget. I also told them how the Visio timeline helped keep me motivated while tracking my progress. They loved the examples, and then they asked me if I really knew about the company.
I assured them I had done a thorough job researching both the company’s history and its products. They asked me to ask them questions about the company and products; it was like a game of trivia. We laughed and had a great time, and I got the job. I left the interview feeling like the boss’s boss liked me more than my direct boss.
Technical specifications a headset and SAP
Four of us in a pod, we were the Eastern customer service team. I was happy to be back but wondered what I had gotten myself into with this new job. The team was primarily young adults, and I was in my 40s with three little ones. I told myself one year in, I would be in the planning department or back in the supply chain world.
This company offered an amazing training program which included how to use the office equipment, SAP training, product knowledge training, procedural training and reporting training. They had an online university where you could work at your own pace anytime. We were required to complete at least two graded modules per month. There were 50 in total, and I completed all 50 before my probation was up.
I also had the opportunity to “job shadow” current reps in another pod for a day to see how they managed their day. I took notes and asked them what one thing they did to help them successfully navigate their job. I incorporated some of these into my routine. I also asked the planners how they drilled into SAP to get their information and learned how to do my job better and how the planners did their job. I didn’t want there to be any excuses for why I could not move into the planning department. I even visualized the chair and desk that I would sit in in the planning department one day.
My probation period was almost up when the lady who I envisioned replacing put her hand up and announced she was leaving. I was so excited but also concerned when I went to my boss and asked for approval to interview for the position. She was not happy, but I had been honest with them in the interview that I wanted to get back to a Supply Chain role one day.
Neither of us expected the opportunity to arise so quickly. That said, she permitted me to pursue the opportunity. As I did with the service center position, I did all the same preparation as before contacting my references, updating them, and asking for their support. I also pulled out my negotiations book from my PMAC course and reviewed it to get in a supply chain frame of mind versus a customer service position. I’m happy to share I got the job; I was now sitting in that chair in the planning department, where I said I would, as a planner just shy of four months re-entering the workforce.
By Lisa Fenton, CSCMP, Supply Chain Manager
After 10+ years in growth and Supply Chain and now as the founder of Propelled by Possibility, Lisa Fenton champions other women along their journeys through published articles, blogs, podcast appearances, radio show appearances and speaking engagements across Canada and the US.