Negotiation, networking, influencing, specialist category knowledge and internal promotion are the top most sought-after skills by employers when hiring procurement professionals. That’s according to an analysis of over 300 job specifications by specialist procurement and supply chain recruiter 1st Executive.

“While some of these may seem obvious – it’s the nuances of what is now expected that is different”, says Joint Managing Director Gary Noble. “While procurement professionals have always had to negotiate, there’s now much more of a focus on value creation rather than just cost and so that means being able to identify a particular service that may also be able deliver other added value services at no extra cost. Consequently, the ability to build a large network to really understand what can be offered is key as well as a deep knowledge of the supply base, market trends and services within a particular spend category on a global scale. Additionally, they need the ability to effectively promote procurement across the business, raise its profile and achieve buy in from a range of different stakeholders.”

However, Noble says that organisations need to look at how they integrate procurement if they want to attract the best skills. “It’s important that procurement is sitting at the table right at the beginning of a purchasing process rather than being brought in at a later stage merely to do the negotiation – procurement professionals want the ability to influence right from the start – and they can often add far more value if they are. ”

Against a backdrop of a real shortage of procurement talent, Noble also cautions that those organisations that still see value creation as a cost consolidation exercise will fail to attract the best. “Today’s procurement professional wants the ability to add real value – they don’t want to spend all day looking at the next supplier to hammer down on cost.”

Talent development is also an issue. According to a study by Deloitte earlier in the year millennials are making up increasingly large proportions of procurement departments but over a quarter of companies surveyed said they were spending less than 1% of their budget on training. “There’s a real appetite among this cohort to get involved with digital transformation projects”, says Noble – “and they could because they have grown up with technology – but if organisations fail to see the potential of these people – they will lose them.”

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