Get a job

Do your homework

It is important to understand the business environment when you work as a buyer. Employers will be looking for knowledge and experience of working in a company.

Look at the different kind of jobs there are in procurement and supply before going for your first interview. Go to what buyers do

Reading some of the news stories and features at supplymanagement.com will help you gain some understanding of the challenges that buyers face.

Spend time on your application and CV. They are the first impression that many employers will have of you so getting it right is important.

You may have some relevant buying experience already. Haggling over a phone contract, buying a car, or finding a holiday deal online can involve highly transferable buying skills.

How to make it in procurement, by senior procurement professionals

Get some broad business experience to put yourself in good stead for a move to procurement. You have to have a good understanding of the areas you are buying for and how your products are utilised in the business.

If you are working, but not in procurement, look at opportunities to get involved in a project that involves procurement and volunteer to help out by doing some market research or being part of an evaluation team. It will help give you evidence that procurement is a career choice for you.

You can and should be passionate about the potential. Procurement can make a big difference to the organisations’ goals, and in the case of third sector, that means providing more help to those in need.

You don’t need to have more confidence than all other candidates, but it is important to show that you have the confidence to overcome the challenges that you face in your future role.

Be interested in everything, and always look at how you can do things differently and better.

Successful employees seize project and developmental opportunities. Find ways to demonstrate your ability to take on transformational project work – across people, process, systems, governance and performance measures.

Put yourself forward for roles you haven’t done before. Even if you have just 50-60% of the skills, you will learn more and faster doing the job, so go for it.

Don’t be afraid to switch between sectors or categories. You will be applying similar or the same methodology within most instances, and the innovator in you will see the new opportunities.

Develop your relationship management skills – this will be the future for procurement roles.

Acquire some CIPS qualifications, and pick an organisation that supports your training. There are certain areas where discipline and structure are required and knowledge of contract law is essential.

Top tips

Procurement skills can be trained, but softer skills around relationships are less easy to train. This is one attribute many employers look for in a candidate.

Employers may not be looking for full knowledge of the discipline, but they are likely to prefer people to have a good handle on the usual procurement terms such as categories, sourcing strategies, tendering, etc.

The CIPS qualification is seen as the industry standard requirement so be able to demonstrate your progression to date with CIPS, even if you don’t yet have the letters after your name.

Assessors are always impressed by previous employment experience. Past jobs trump work experience placements or internships, which in turn trump the academic achievements, to a point.

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