In the past decade, procurement has become increasingly recognised as a major factor in company growth. This is reflected in the opportunities available to those in the profession: Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) are commonly seen in boardrooms as part of the C-suite, and even at a lower level you could be responsible for multi-million dollar deals.
Projects can be varied in scope, particularly if working for a consultancy, and you'll get the chance to develop skills and make connections in every area of business. Plus, salaries are high and in line with other professions such as marketing, IT and human resources.
Salary information taken from the HAYS Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2016.
Despite these benefits and opportunities, there’s a talent shortage within the profession, meaning that it’s the perfect time to forge a career in logistics.
Let’s look at what you'll need to land your first job.
Industry qualifications ensure that you’re up-to-date with best practice and hold yourself to high professional standards, making them invaluable for your progression in the field and making you extremely desirable in the eyes of any business. It’s possible to find jobs through experience alone, but having the right qualifications opens up a huge number of opportunities which would otherwise be closed to you.
In the UK, a CIPS qualification is the industry standard and is usually required in most job listings. Abroad, CIPS qualifications are likewise widely recognised and respected.
You don’t need to give up your current job to get a CIPS qualification – online learning providers make it easy to get qualified at a pace that works with your schedule. Plus, if you’ve already got your feet on the ladder, your employer might fund your course.
Typically you’ll complete your CIPS qualification then gain three years’ experience in the field in order to gain full membership and be able to use MCIPS after your name on your CV.
If you have a qualification in the field, experience – or lack of it – counts for less. However, a mix of experience and education is best: having relevant skills and the experience to back it up makes you a stronger candidate than a qualification alone.
Many procurement roles are very analytical and require working with spend data, so a financial background is beneficial.
Experience in law or HR will give you a useful understanding of contracts, and corporate experience in any area will show that you can work well within a business and understand the business environment.
Negotiation experience is a sure-fire winner. If you’ve worked in Sales, this will stand you in good stead: you know how to prepare a pitch, assess your leverage, and use persuasion techniques. You’ve also seen the buying process from the other side, so you’ll have insight into the seller’s mindset that will come in handy when you’re negotiating a deal.
Leadership experience of any kind is invaluable in most business roles, and procurement is no exception. If you have senior management experience, you could move directly into a senior procurement role, with your team making up the specialised skills you lack while you learn.
Technical skills are becoming increasingly desirable as more companies recognise the benefit of having their technology sourced by someone who really understands the product.
Similarly, work experience in a variety of sectors can help you get a foot in the door if you focus on logistics in those industries.
Highlighting the right transferable skills shows hiring managers that you understand the requirements of the role and are up to the challenge.
Time management skills are vital because in business, time is money. Knowing how to prioritise and get things done can be the difference between securing a great deal and missing out on a star contract.
Communication skills are key in procurement, from negotiating a deal to conveying essential information to stakeholders. Show your interviewer that you work well under pressure by being poised, personable, and persuasive during your interview. The key to achieving all three is another P: practice.
Knowing how to present yourself well is part and parcel of this. Your appearance and behaviour communicates who you are to your interviewer (and, if you get the job, your suppliers). Make sure you present your best self by being immaculately groomed, wearing a well-fitting and nearly pressed outfit, having good posture and using positive body language.
Procurement probably wasn’t on your list of dream jobs as a kid, but with great salaries, an open job market, and excellent opportunities for progression, it might be your ideal career.
If you're thinking of pursuing a procurement career, find out more about getting your CIPS qualification online with us.