Thinking about moving to a new role this year? Our team of consultants have put together a few answers to your five most commonly asked questions about progressing, and starting your procurement career.

1. Do I need the CIPS membership to get hired?

There is no straight forward answer. Some employers will make specific reference to the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) membership in their job adverts, whereas others may focus more heavily on your experience in previous roles.
Although you can enter the profession at any level, most employers will expect to see some relevant training on your CV. If you’re new to the profession, a relevant CIPS qualification can certainly help your knowledge and make your CV appeal to employers in this industry. If you already have an accredited degree and relevant experience, an additional CIPS qualification and training may be deemed unnecessary. Some degrees are accredited by CIPS and as such, you’ll receive membership upon successful completion of the relevant criteria. Typically, you’ll need to have completed three years’ experience post qualification to gain full membership and to be able to officially use the MCIPS letters on your CV.
Whatever the job, it’s important that the right education and training is always backed up by practical, hands-on experience. An employer will always be looking for a good mix of the two and proof that you can put your learning into practice. A CIPS qualification can help you gain an advanced understanding of purchasing and supply management, as well as other essential issues which affect business. But you’ll need to show a proven aptitude for making the theory work in real business environments.  

2. Do I need to be a category expert? 

Most roles that arise in procurement are category specific so it is worth working towards developing expertise in categories that particularly interest you. IT procurement is an area that always commands category experts, apart from at the junior level. That’s not to say procurement generalists won’t get hired because many clients look for cross-category capability. 
The important thing is to really understand the role and what they are looking for. Even if you feel you could do it, will the client see that from reading your profile? Ask yourself, do you have enough category specific examples in your CV? 

3. Do I need OJEU experience to work in public sector?

Experience of the procurement process according to The Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) is a prerequisite for the majority of public sector clients, so the short answer is yes. However, some clients will hire people based on their commercial background with a view to train them on the OJEU process. Equally, some senior candidates are hired without OJEU experience on the assumption they will work to pick it up quickly or that people working under them will run the tenders themselves. If an opportunity in the public sector really appeals to you, and you have a private sector background, then it’s worth asking your agent to enquire with the client. 

4. How do I prove I’m good at procurement?

The easiest measurable to quantify your delivery is savings. Always think about the financial benefit to the business of the activity you have carried out. How much did you save versus target and what are the projected future savings of your strategy?
Some strategic procurement activity isn’t associated with explicit financial rewards so be sure to talk about it in project terms. What was the status when you started? What journey did you take the business on? What was the outcome and how was it received? Also, what were the challenges along the way?

5. What if I don’t manage the end-to-end sourcing process?

Not everyone starts their career as a global category manager. Regardless of what accountability you have within the sourcing process, the important thing is to show ownership. Don’t inflate your deliverables or claim responsibility where it wasn’t yours. You don’t have to personally deliver everything. But be sure to talk about what you did deliver, with conviction and lead with “I” statements. “I supported the tender” has far more conviction than, “We delivered a tender”.  A small saving that you personally delivered will impress a client more than a multimillion pound saving that is clearly not yours to claim. 
If you have any other questions, or need some advice about your next career move, please contact Zarah Morton.
T: +44 207 269 2394