Hiring the right person can be extremely tough, particularly in competitive job markets with low unemployment. For procurement professionals especially, talent recruitment and development is now a critical priority, according to advisory firm KPMG. Hiring managers must weigh technical capabilities, soft skills, and culture fit as they sort through a dwindling pool of potential procurement candidates.
So, what’s the best way to approach this dilemma? As with any challenge, hiring managers should identify and prioritise the attributes that are most important to their search. These criteria may vary between organisations and teams, but here are six of the top skillsets to keep in mind when hiring procurement professionals.
1. Strong technical skills and knowledge of procurement processes
Look for candidates who can quickly pick up new approaches and are eager to continually learn. They must demonstrate technical and market intelligence, be able to pick up new technology quickly, and figure out the best way to leverage tools to do their jobs better.
2. Ability to negotiate and influence without authority
One of the main tasks of procurement is relationship brokering. Your new hire will need to negotiate with external suppliers and internal stakeholders, as well as influence management/peers and possibly manage direct reports. Anyone you hire to join your procurement team must possess the delicate balance of personable know-how yet strength of conviction to approach negotiations with an open mind while driving toward clear goals. They also must know how to pull on different levers in the deal to guide both parties in the negotiations to an acceptable outcome.
3. Demonstrate capabilities in evidence-based decision making
Today, data is power. When you look for a candidate, look for someone who makes decisions based on evidence, whether that data is qualitative or quantitative. They need to be able to create and leverage the appropriate data collection processes to make informed decisions. Above all, avoid someone who will make random decisions based on ‘gut feel’ or because ‘it’s always been done that way’.
4. Strategic planning know-how and forecasting
Procurement professionals must be able to look ahead, plan ahead for your business, mitigate risk and think of different outcomes in order to choose the best course of action. Regardless of seniority in the organisation, procurement professionals are most valuable when they are thinking about the business as a whole and how they can help protect and build it.
5. Alignment with team and business cultures
When a person doesn’t fit into the organisational culture, it can be very difficult for them to be successful. Someone who comes from a slow, bureaucratic, and risk-averse organisation and joins a fast-paced, innovative company may feel overwhelmed and quickly burn out. On the other hand, someone coming from a fast-paced company may feel frustrated at the slow pace and lose motivation to do their best work. Make sure your potential employee is aware and accepting of your company’s culture so there are no surprises in expectations.
6. Proactive nature and proclivity to “hustle”
No matter what your new employee’s responsibilities will be, it’s always important for them to have the X factor that drives them to success. Maybe they always educate themselves on the latest trends, take initiative to reach out to stakeholders, think up new projects they could take on, or identify processes they could improve. As a leader, it can be tremendously helpful to have employees who actively look for new ways they can help instead of waiting for work to be given to them.
Although it can be tough to find the perfect fit, if you keep these six attributes in mind when you look for your new procurement team member, you’ll be sure to find the right person.