Category Archives: Career Management

Don’t Overlook This One Critical Factor When Choosing Your Next Role

Many mention salary as a reason to look elsewhere. So, what possibly could go wrong when you chase the money?

When Tom* was headhunted for a procurement specialist role at a major energy supplier, his eyes lit up. It was literally his dream job – and at a salary $30,000 higher than he was being paid. 

What could possibly go wrong? 

Tom resigned immediately and started planning the lavish holiday on which he’d now be able to take his family. 

Yet less than 6 months later Tom found himself in my office, miserable. 

Tyrannical boss

It turned out that what had seemed like a lucrative move was anything but.

The long hours and high stress of his new role – combined with a tyrannical and workaholic boss – had made the situation untenable. 

‘I’ve learnt the hard way,’ Tom told me, ‘that it’s not all about money.’ 

As general manager of The Source, I meet hundreds of talented procurement professionals every year.

Like Tom, many mention salary as one of the reasons they want to look elsewhere. 

But I often tell candidates that money shouldn’t be the only reason for choosing a job. And in many cases it shouldn’t be an influencing factor at all. 

Here’s why. 

Flexibility and well-being are key

Workplace satisfaction research conducted over the last decade tells us that, contrary to popular belief, salary isn’t one of the driving factors when it comes to happiness at work. 

In fact, salary comes close to last on the list. 

What makes us truly happy at work is, in fact, a combination of permanent workplace flexibility, a commitment to health and well-being and the feeling that we’re doing meaningful and interesting work. 

We also need to feel respected at work. 

We need and want our leaders to notice and listen to us.

And, to an extent, we want them to praise us for our efforts.

In Tom’s situation, he had ended up with none of these. 

He wasn’t getting any respect. In fact, his new manager often berated him in front of other colleagues. 

He also had little flexibility. 

Despite the fact that the organisation had a strong policy on workplace flexibility, Tom’s workaholic manager made him feel like he could never take advantage of it. 

Finally, the lack of flexibility, high expectations and poor management had a knock-on effect on Tom’s health and well-being.

He was stressed and tired all the time – and struggled to stay motivated. 

Again, the organisation had a policy on employee well-being. But that hardly mattered to Tom, whose entire experience was being dictated by a manager he hated. 

People leave their bosses, not their jobs

After talking to me about his situation, Tom quickly came to another realisation about his poor career move.

And this time it wasn’t about salary. 

When you look at the drivers of workplace satisfaction, almost all can be achieved – or derailed – by your leader. 

This is something that’s enshrined in fact: 75% of all people leave their bosses, not their jobs. 

So if you think about it like that, risking leaving a good boss for the unknown can make the salary gain pale in comparison. 

Sure, that extra money might get you a great holiday, help you pay off your debt or buy you the car you’ve always wanted, but what are you giving up in return? 

Your job is a 40-hour-a-week, 48-week-per-year reality, and your career – which a manager can also make or break – is a lifelong endeavour. 

After a few months of searching, we eventually placed Tom in a new role, with a leader I know will give him the career experience he wants and deserves. 

But for all of you thinking of your next move this year, let this be a cautionary tale. 

How much does salary really mean? And how much emphasis should you place on that against working for someone who holds the key to your workplace happiness? 

I’d love to hear your experiences – please share them in the comments section below. 

Interested in some more career advice? Whether you want to move up in your career, change industries, or even need some extra motivation for the new year (and new decade!), start 2020 off with a bang in our upcoming webinar – Don’t Quit Your Day Job. Register here.

Tony Megally is the General Manager of The Source, Australia’s leading procurement recruitment and executive search firm. If you’re looking to hire in the procurement space, or alternatively, you’d like to have a confidential chat about your next role, please contact Tony on +613 9650 6665 or via email on [email protected]

*Name changed to protect privacy

How To Stop The Computer Saying ‘No’! Clever Hacks For Getting Hired

AI is increasingly involved in recruitment. But how do you get on the right side of a computer that is reading your CV, running an aptitude test or assessing you in an online interview?

It’s impossible to argue with a computer, which is why the famous Little Britain TV comedy skit – ‘The computer says “No”!’ – is so memorable. However, there are ways to get around recruitment algorithms and perform better in an AI video interview.

You have just a few seconds (between 5 and 7) to impress someone with your CV. Hiring managers will quickly scan your résumé to decide whether or not to reject your application.

It’s easy to spot ones that will be instantly dismissed: too short or too long (2 pages max), too unusual (the rejection rate for those with photos is around 88%), badly presented and littered with spelling mistakes . . . with barely a glance, these will all be filed away (or binned).

It doesn’t give you much time to make a good impression.

However, if you think that someone in HR is hard to please, try impressing a computer algorithm.

A human being might, at least, see your potential if you write a convincing personal statement and a powerful cover letter showing that you have the ability and determination to succeed in a role for which you don’t quite have the right qualifications or experience.

When the process is automated, whether or not you get past the first few stages of the hiring process is all down to data. If you fail to score highly, you’ll never get hired – however brilliant you are. So what are the clever hacks?

Algorithm Aces

Always include everything asked for in the job spec in your CV . . . and use exactly the same words.

So if the candidate requirements say ‘Must be proficient in Excel’, say ‘proficient in Excel’ rather than ‘Have experience of using spreadsheets’.

Yes, you might not quite have the required level of expertise, but you can then explain that. The main thing is to pass the first hurdle. You could, for example, say ‘Proficient in Excel: with a relevant qualification’ – then go online to sites such as reed.co.uk or udemy.com and sign up for an online course. For £10 or so and 4–16 hours of online study you could have a qualification.

The other advantage is that you can then add this to your LinkedIn profile and other job applications.

At the very least make sure you include all the ‘musts’ and as many of the ‘desirables’ as possible.

Tips:
  • Tailor your CV to each job. You won’t know in advance which applications are screened by algorithms and which by a human being . . . so play safe.
  • Don’t lie – but be creative. If the job spec requires ‘At least 5 years in a leadership role’ you could add in leading a team (even if that was only 2 of you) or leading a project, to stretch your years of experience to 5.
  • Remember your aim is to get to the interview stage – most firms are struggling to find candidates that tick all the boxes, so don’t be afraid of applying for jobs where you don’t quite have all the qualifications and experience that is required. As long as you pass the initial screening, you can then elaborate on your answers in person . . . and hopefully impress the interviewer so much that you land the job.

Aptitude Hacks

Increasingly often employers are posting online assessment tests to pre-screen applicants.

If possible, set up a dummy account, so that you can go through the process and familiarize yourself with it before doing it for real. Also see if there are any similar aptitude tests online.

Tips:
  • If the test is timed or a stretch, you might want to do a test run several times. However, if you find the test a real struggle perhaps this isn’t the job for you.
  • If the employer leaves the assessment until the day of the interview, prepare – you might be asked to prove your proficiency in a particular program, so go online and do a quick refresher course to get up to speed.

Assessment Musts

Some employers also undertake personality profiling to make sure you have the right characteristics for the role.

The key with this is to be totally honest. Relax and complete the assessment truthfully – using the first thing that comes to mind as your answer, rather than overthinking each question.

If you lie in a personality test, it can be easily spotted. Often assessments take this into account – as they know that people tend to answer with what they think they should say, rather than what they honestly feel in the first 10 or 20 answers. After that they tend to relax and tell the truth.

Tips:
  • Being honest is important – if you are the wrong fit for the job, it will not work out and you could find yourself out of work and with little or no severance (remember, you have virtually no rights in the first 2 years of employment).
  • If the assessment is in a group situation or you are asked to perform a mock sales pitch/presentation etc. at the interview, be the best version of yourself rather than trying to be someone else.

Video Tricks

Unconscious bias is a problem in recruitment and is the reason for a lack of diversity within organizations.

Interviewers tend to have preconceptions about individuals and often look for similarities – leading to them hiring a ‘mini me’. This can leave organizations open to discrimination claims.

This – along with the need to reduce costs – has led to the introduction of AI as an interviewing tool.

However, it is very disconcerting to find yourself talking to a computer screen rather than a real human being.

Tips:
  • Practise, practise, practise. You will often be given a set time limit to answer each question. Umming and ahhing or lengthy pauses will impact on your score.
  • Video yourself answering questions – some AI programs look at your body language, which can give away tell-tale signs of lying (such as looking away or to one side).
  • Treat a video interview as a real interview – get a good night’s sleep, dress to impress, don’t drink too much coffee and try to relax.
  • Stick a photo of someone you like and want to impress (even a celebrity) next to your screen camera. Visualize yourself talking to this real person and your conversation will be more natural – your eyes will also be looking towards the camera, rather than down, and this can make you appear more professional and confident.

So be prepared for AI when you’re applying for your next position. Remember these few tips and behavioural tweaks to handle selection and assessment algorithms and give yourself the best chance of having a happy ending to your job-search story.

Think you could use a little career motivation for the new year and new decade? Join our upcoming webinar – Don’t Quit Your Day Job!

How to Get Stakeholder Buy-In

It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are, without stakeholder buy-in they won’t get any traction. Can you improve this?

buy-in
Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

True innovation comes from true influence. However, the painful reality is that it often doesn’t matter how good your ideas are. If you can’t get buy-in from other people, from the stakeholders in your organisation, then it will end up at the bottom of the pile.

Whether you are trying to implement a new program, in a difficult meeting at work, or attempting to convince your spouse or children of a different point of view, getting buy-in, or being able to influence others, is often the difference between success and failure.

Yet getting buy-in has nothing to do with how loud you are, how great your idea is, or even how confident you are of being right. So what does it involve?

Getting Crystal Clear

Like all important things the key to ‘influence’ is simple – but not easy. It means getting crystal clear on what you actually want your audience to ‘think’, ‘believe’ or ‘do’ differently.

However, in order to do this effectively, you need to craft a message based on what your audience are thinking, believing or doing right now.  

How you go about this depends on who your audience is, but it is possible to get a good read on the think, believe, do in any situation.

For example, as procurement professionals, you have a multitude of stakeholders. So you might want to start by investing in some market research. You might start by inviting some of those key people to lunch, then asking them what their biggest challenges, pain points or questions are in relation to your world.

Crafting the Message

Once you’ve been through that important exercise, break it down: Right now, what do they believe about your value? What are they thinking? What are they doing?

When you know this information, it is much easier to craft a message that speaks their language. However more importantly than that – a message with a clear and engaging path to action.

Once you become experienced in this process you can apply it to any topic. For example: What does marketing need to know right now in terms of procurement trends? Start there – ask the right person (or people) about what they are currently thinking, believing and doing in relation to the topic. Then use that language to bridge the gap between their current reality – and the reality you want to create.

Illuminate a Path

One of my favourite interviews for my Inside Influence podcast was Nancy Duarte. Nancy is a global communication expert, CEO and bestselling author. While discussing her core advice for those looking to become compelling communicators or storytellers – she explained something I wanted to shout from the rooftops.

She said that if you want to create real engagement – rather than a short burst of attention – then turn that engagement into actual action – your primary role is to ‘illuminate a path’. What does she mean by that? She’s saying that it’s not enough to tell people what to do – you also need to give them a compelling enough ‘why’ – followed by a clear pathway to action.

A clear pathway to action doesn’t have to be huge. In fact, going for a ‘simple yes’ is far more likely to result in action that a complex plan of execution. It could be something as simple as: ‘If you want to talk more about some of the possible results we could get from this idea – let me know when you’re free for a brief phone call’. Or ‘In order to take full advantage of this procurement trend we would need to do three simple things…’

An Idea to So Much More

It’s a simple path to action (what you want them to think, believe or do differently) that takes our communication from being ‘just an idea’ to so much more.

So what’s next if you want to increase your buy-in – or influence – in any situation? First become a student of the world of your target audience. Ask the right questions, of the right people – and then use that language to illuminate a path to the promised land.

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration into what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes or Julie’s website.

Calling All Future Procurement Leaders… Start Building Your Personal Brand, Now.

Creating a personal brand as a procurement leader not only helps you do your job better but also boosts your professional standing. So, how do you begin?

‘Personal brand’ seemed such a strange expression to me the first time I heard it.

It sounded like something one of those Gen Z Influencer types would talk about on a beach while flogging an internet get-rich-quick scheme.

Little did I know that building a personal brand would – in time – become a leadership imperative.

Or, crazier still, that one day I would be helping executives develop personal brands while uploading selfie videos of my large, round head onto the internet as a career coach at Executive Career Jump.

The benefits of a personal brand

Whatever your main challenge as a future procurement leader – be it attracting talent, supplier engagement or driving innovation – all these pressures can be reduced by building a strong personal brand.

More and more, jobseekers are told to ‘pick a leader, not a job’. So a strong personal brand will help you no end with recruitment.

It’s not only great for doing your job but also excellent for your career prospects.

When you build a strong personal brand, you’re rarely short of career development, mentoring or employment opportunities.

It is estimated that in today’s digital era 65% of decisions by key stakeholders are made in advance, before you have ever met them. Their decision is almost exclusively based on what they can find out about you online – on social media and on your website.

So what you’re putting out there for people to see is super-important.

It should be strategically positioned and well thought-out.

Three steps to (brand) heaven

Eddie Cochran famously sang that there are ‘three steps to heaven’. Below is a simple three-step process to help establish a strong personal brand as a procurement leader – and then continue to enhance it.

Push yourself out of that comfort zone and give it a go … you’ll be surprised at the results.

STEP 1 – GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER

Anything on the internet is findable.

And you will be judged on the basis of what you put out there.

So decide what you want to stand for (make it authentic) and then undertake an online clean-up. There are even apps that can help with this audit process.

Do you have posts out there that you wouldn’t want customers or employers to see? Take them down.

A drunken rant or risqué material? That should definitely go.

Even the pictures in which you appear are important.

I knew one guy who was overlooked for a job offer despite interviewing well as in one of his pictures on social media was next to someone who was smoking cannabis. 

He may have never even touched the stuff, but – fairly or unfairly – hiring him was seen as a risk.

STEP 2 – START PRODUCING ONLINE CONTENT

Once you have your house in order, you need to start producing online content and getting your message out there.

The ROI on this isn’t instant but if you’re consistent it will be significant. Besides, it’s free to use platforms like LinkedIn!

First, you need to decide what you want your personal brand to be. Make sure it is real and authentic.

Next work out which stakeholder groups you want to impress or attract most right now. 

It’s like building up a buyer persona in a marketing exercise.

For example, you may decide that you want your personal brand to be synonymous with promoting the procurement profession as a career of choice and that your biggest priority right now is recruiting entry-level procurement analysts.

That’s your audience.

You could give a name to the person you want to attract . . . ‘Graduate Grace’, for example.

Now start writing articles, producing videos and sharing posts that help promote the profession and will appeal to ‘Graduate Grace’.

Simple as that.

STEP 3 – CONVERT ONLINE BRANDING TO OFFLINE OPPORTUNITY

When you start gaining momentum and building an online brand and community you’ll create an ecosystem that generates offline opportunities, too.

So grab them with both hands. Appear on panels, start mentoring, go to events and deliver talks. Network with peers.

Delivering on your online brand in person is a powerful thing and will only continue to bring you satisfaction and tangible benefits.
Good luck with the journey. Keep striving and experiment often. Use these 3 simple steps to build and maintain your brand – and reap the benefits.

This article was written by CPO Roundtable attendee & Founder at Executive Career Jump, Andrew MacAskill.
In 2020, we will be holding CPO Roundtable events in London and Edinburgh. If you are interested in attending one of these events, please contact Laura Hine by clicking here.

Our Advice? Don’t Quit Your Day Job!

It’s one of the most popular times of year to think about changing your day job. But before you take the plunge it’s best to take some good advice on board.

Don't Quit Your Day Job

It’s the start of a New Year, so you might be looking to make some changes in your life. You might want to get in shape or join thousands of people giving up a habit, something like smoking or sugar or coffee (gasp!).

Or maybe you’re one of the many, many people who decide that a new year means a new career. According to recruiters and advisors galore, January is one of the most popular times of year to look for a new day job. And it’s also one of the best times to be looking for a new job too.

Why is this the case? Well there are a number of theories. One is that this is the time that many organisations and departments receive their budgets, so know how much, if any, recruitment they might want or need to do. Another is that employers come back in the New Year looking for a new start, so are more active in looking for new employees.

Get Some Career Advice

It’s also the start of a new decade, which may give rise to more thoughts on changing your day job. Have you been in your current role too long? Have you developed the role, or been developed in the role, as much as possible? Or is it simply time for a new challenge?

Before you take the plunge and quit your job in a flurry of paperwork, or worse, a fit of pique, it’s a good idea to get some advice from people who have already had hugely successful careers. After all, what better way is there to focus your decision making than learning from the guidance, achievements and even mistakes of those who have ‘been there, done that’.

Join our Webinar

Procurious has just the solution, and plenty of answers, for you as we kick-start the new decade with a new webinar, ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Job – Your Path to the Top’.

We’ve put together an all-female panel to tell us what it takes to have a successful career. Joining Helen Mackenzie, Principal Advisor at Procurious, we have:

  • Lara Naqushbandi, Finance Director, UK and Ireland, Google UK
  • Christina Morrow, Director, Global Procurement, Ricoh USA
  • Imelda Walsh, who is the manager, at Procurious’ sister company, The Source

Sign up now for our webinar on Thursday the 23rd of January at 14:30pm and you’ll hear from this expert panel on a range of topics including:

  • What the one thing is that they have got wrong in their career that webinar attendees can learn from;
  • Why it’s important to have a plan set out before embarking on something new in their working life;
  • How women in leadership roles can pave the way for aspiring future leaders; and
  • How to use your past and current roles to provide a platform to step up to a more senior or C-suite role.

FAQs

Is the webinar available to anyone?

Absolutely! All Procurious members can register for the webinar and it won’t cost you a penny to do so. Simply sign up here.

How do I listen to the ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Job’ webinar?

Simply sign up here and you’ll be able to listen to the on-demand. 

Help – I can’t make it to the live-stream of the webinar!

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream, and you have registered, you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be sure to send you a link that will still work after the webinar is finished. That way you can listen at your leisure!

Don’t Miss Out!

This webinar promises to provide real insight into success, how you need to prepare for the next stage in your career and what it’s going to take to push your career all the way to the top.

Make sure you don’t miss out – sign up today!

The Resume is Dead – Long Live the Digital Footprint!

Well, maybe not quite. But they should be! And we should all be focusing on our digital footprint now…

digital footprint
Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

I am often asked about feedback on resumes. I’m always happy to help but if you want my true feeling on the topic RESUMES ARE REDUNDANT! Well, maybe not quite yet but they should be – here’s why…

We live in an era where most people have access to many more creative ways to present themselves. In my opinion, if you’re not using one of them you won’t truly stand out no matter what you do. Resumes are also super subjective, what’s perfect to the person you ask for advice could be worst practice in the eyes of someone else.

Your digital footprint is where it’s at!

Your digital footprint is more important than you might think. Creating a good one involves more than deleting your best friend on Facebook and asking them to make sure all of your drunken photos are locked away using the privacy features. If anything, your aim should be to become more transparent digitally so you take the guess work out of getting to know you.

As someone who has recruited in candidate short markets, I have a few pearls of wisdom for candidates (and you’re all candidates) regardless of whether you’re open to new opportunities right now or not.

Use your digital footprint to make your brand known!

Everyone has a personal brand whether we realise it or not. I may be preaching to the converted given we’re on LinkedIn but the creation of your personal brand is what will see you snag the ‘dream job’ you have been hoping for. There’s a few reasons for this, the most important being, most awesome jobs aren’t advertised.

In the age of social media some of the most interesting (niche) jobs are never advertised. They don’t need to be because superhero talent scouts and hiring managers are well connected or well versed in finding top talent.

Here’s some of the ways recruiters like me are finding people just like you every day:

1.     Keyword searches for role titles, job tasks, education, previous experience:

Some organisations have very creative titles and that’s great (is anyone else noticing the increased amount of ninjas around??). This being said, you can’t always expect your network to know who you are or how to find you if you don’t give them clues. Make use of key words, mention parts of your role, interests and achievements which can be searched even if your title really is “The People Whisperer” or something equally as unique.

2.     Following articles/posts in your industry to find people who write and engage with relevant content:

So important! Add value through content – yours or shares. By engaging with content, you are subliminally letting people in your network know what you’re passionate about and building a profile. You don’t need to be a content creator for this to work. Your recent activity will show posts you have created, liked, shared, and commented on. These actions represent you when someone visits your profile or scans articles in your industry for potential candidates.

This kind of ongoing activity and profile building is FAR more powerful than any fluffy list of skills on a resume. This shows your character and is likely to result in a tap on the shoulder telling you about opportunities you’re well suited for. This is because consistent activity will keep you and things you’re passionate about front of mind for people in your industry.

3.     Looking for authenticity and cultural alignment:

We want everyone to want to reach out to us with job offers right? WRONG! We’re not all purple squirrels (rare candidates in high demand) but even those who are should let organisations opt out! Be yourself in your personal description and interactions. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is portraying yourself in a way you think you should to be considered for certain roles.

If you’re not being yourself and someone offers you a role, chances are you won’t enjoy the environment/role they have identified as a good fit. If you’re authentic in the look and feel of your profile and your interactions, you give people the chance to opt in or out of reaching out.

Whether you’re comfortable with it or not, you’re arguably always a “passive candidate” so be a good one! Instead of spending time perfecting your resume when you’re looking for a job (which is exceptionally subjective by the way)…work on being yourself and amplifying your message and digital footprint! At the risk of sounding very 1984, George Orwell or Big Brother, Gretel Killeen, your network is watching!

This article was written by Catherine Triandafilidis and originally published on LinkedIn.

7 Negotiation Tricks Procurement Professionals Must Know – Best of the Blog 2019

Every procurement professional has a special bag of tricks for a negotiation – let’s see if you recognise these seven tips from experts in the field…

negotiation tricks
Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

This article was written by Giuseppe Conti and first published in April.

The benefits of countless hours of negotiation experiences is that you know what you should be doing more of and what to stop doing. We discover the key traits and tools that make us perform better and are better armed for our next negotiation.

Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner of Conti Advanced Business Learning interviewed seven procurement leaders to find out their favourite negotiation trick that played a key part in their business success.

1. Making the first proposal right away

I like to come to the negotiation table well prepared and well-aware of the market alternatives. Making the first proposal allows me to anchor conditions to a level close to the bottom of the market offer, immediately reducing the amplitude of the BATNA of my counterpart. Then I try to improve the conditions that are more valuable for me by making and requesting mutual concessions.

Francesco Lucchetta, Director Strategic Supply – Pentair

2. Preparation, Target, Value

I make sure I follow these three steps at the starting point in any negotiation where I am leading. The first is undoubtedly being well prepared. Secondly, to have a clear understanding of the desired outcome with a predefined “target range”, and thirdly, to fully understand the “value” of the business in the context of the potential suppliers being considered.

Les Ball, Chief Procurement Officer, ABB Motors and Generators

3. Profile your counterpart

Understand whom you face before negotiating! I use initial negotiation meetings to pique the interest the person I’m negotiating with – letting them discover all the potential benefits of working with my company. Then I encourage the speaker to talk as much as possible whilst showing genuine interest in their activities. I try to understand the way they work, their objectives and challenges. Having key objectives clearly in mind, I can better understand where our common interests are and how to shape the deal accordingly. From this moment onwards, I consider it the precise point where the negotiation starts.

Olivier Cachat Chief Procurement Officer, IWG

4. Asking yourself the right questions

It depends on the scenario but for mepersonally, negotiation always starts from knowing your position versus the market. You need to ask yourself ‘what you need to achieve’ and ‘what is the nature of the parties and the cultures you are engaging with’. Nothing beats preparation and being able to explain ‘what you need, why you need it and what is in it for the other party’. My go-to-guide for knowing the best methods in discussions are those from ‘Getting to Yes’ and its methods of principle negotiation. Be firm on your expectations, be open how to get there.

Jon Hatfield, Director Global Supply Management, PPG

5. Do your homework!

Preparation is the essence of a successful negotiation. Knowing your targets, your limits, and your BATNA is extremely important however it is useless if you fail to understand the other party. Put yourself in their shoes to know what they are looking for and how they would conduct research about your company. Do they really need your business? Are they looking for volume, for margin, for market share or for a combination of these? With these insights you will be able to drive and steer the negotiation to your preferences.

Christophe Schmitt, Head of Strategic Supplies, Omya

6. Make them love your vision and strategy

My preferred technique is to make the strategy attractive to the supplier and develop a common vision. Once the supplier is onboard, you can design an agreement in a very favourable direction.

Fabrice Hurel, Director Global Indirect Sourcing, Emerson

7. Questions, Questions, Questions

Asking questions, particularly the ones carefully prepared for in advance. I recall a negotiation with a professional services provider where the negotiation lasted for 3.5 hours. They started the negotiation feeling very confident about winning the business. After two hours of thought-provoking questions, they decided to substantially reduce their prices and ambitions. At the end, we reached a satisfactory agreement for both parties (good for them, great for us!)

Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner, Conti Advanced Business Learning

The answers were collected by Giuseppe Conti, Founder and Managing Partner of Conti Advanced Business Learning (www.cabl.ch), a consulting firm that specialises in negotiation & influencing. This article is part of a series aimed at collecting real-life negotiation experiences from Procurement executives.

Why You Need to Hyper-Specialise – Best of the Blog 2019

The days of the generalist are over. Today, the most influential people in your organisation are those with the ability to hyper-specialise.

experts hyper-specialise
Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash

This article was written by Julie Masters, and was first published in February.

When I first started working in the world of influence and influencers, it was possible to own a massive space; whether it was leadership, real estate, finance, money or health. There were very few “gurus” who had access to a platform from to talk about their wide area of expertise.

Today, however, everybody has a platform. The internet is crowded with blogs, podcasts, Youtube channels and social media influencers, with the result that there’s way too much noise to own a huge space anymore. Now, the future belongs to micro-influencers; micro-authorities who hyper-specialise.

When stakeholders need help from a procurement professional, they need to be able to find you fast. They want to know – straight away – whether the space that you own aligns exactly with their situation and needs. An IT professional, for example, doesn’t want advice from a procurement generalist. They want to talk to an IT purchasing specialist – someone who understands the challenges involved and is well-known as an expert in that space.

Do you own your space on Google?

When was the last time you Googled yourself? Take a minute to do so now. What did you find out – do the search results make it clear what space you own?

According to Harvard University, over 50% of decisions are now made before we ever making contact i.e via what I would call “Google stalking”. When you first make contact with a talent prospect, a supplier or a potential consultant, one of the first things they will do (I guarantee it) is Google stalk you. If what they find is irrelevant, not specific to their needs or if they can’t find it fast enough, then you’ve lost that race.

To become an influencer, you have to own your space – but you can’t own a space unless you are clear on what space it is that you want to own.

Influence Intersections

But how do you find out the niche that you want to own? How do you discover the hyper-specialisation that will set you apart from everybody else?

Let me introduce a concept that I call Influence Intersections. Picture a Venn diagram: the first of the two circles is a world in which you have mastery, insights or experience. Then you overlay this with another world where you have mastery, insights or experience. The intersecting space in the middle is the space that only you can own. The space where your expertise will stand out.

Two celebrity influencers who hyper-specialised

Take Jamie Oliver – when he first started out there were many celebrity chefs from six-star hotels and restaurants. Then Jamie came along, and what did he have? He had mastery, experience, and insights into the high-end world of cooking, but he also had personality. The personality he brought to the front was that he understood families and what it’s like to cook for your children on a budget quickly in a healthy way. The place in the middle between those two spaces was a place that only Jamie could own.

Steve Jobs is another famous example. He took the world of engineering and computers and overlayed this with another world he knew – the world of the creative innovator. That space in the middle then became the key Apple needed to dominate the marketplace.  

Why should a procurement professional hyper-specialise?

One word – influence. Procurement professionals are typically frustrated by their lack of influence (or “seat at the table”) within their organisations, but building up your profile and becoming known as the go-to expert in your space will lift your influence and cause others to seek out your advice. Imagine, then, a whole team of hyper-specialised procurement professionals, each one famous in the organisation for owning their space. How influential would that department become?

It’s also a great tool to keep in mind for your next career move. If you begin hyper-specialising today with the aim of becoming known as the guru in your particular space, you might just be in a job interview situation one day where the interviewer says, “I’ve heard of you – your expertise is a perfect fit for this opportunity”.

Remember, the days of the generalist are over. Generalists rarely become voices of authority. In addition to not being renumerated as well as perceived ‘experts’ they also receive less engagement and fewer opportunities. People who hyper-specialise, on the other hand, receive more credibility, more respect, more opportunities and more influence. 

What are the two worlds you can overlay to find – and own – your space?

5 Favourite Supply Chain Job Interview Questions…And Answers – Best of the Blog 2019

There is no limit to the types of questions that can be asked at an interview for a mid-level role in supply chain management (SCM).  We have selected five of our favourites which come up regularly…

interview questions
Photo by Johanna Buguet on Unsplash

This article was written by Elaine Porteous and first published in August.

There is no limit to the types of questions that can be asked at an interview for a mid-level role in supply chain management (SCM).  We have selected five of our favourites which come up regularly but first, let’s pause for thought about what employers are looking for and why.    

Supply chain careers of the future

According to Unilever, a big global employer with complex supply chains, future opportunities are in:

  • Manufacturing
  • Data analysis 
  • Procurement
  • Transportation
  • Customer service

The accepted way top employers assess your specific skills and technical competencies and your future potential is by conducting a behavioural based interview.  You may be asked to describe situations or tasks you were involved in, your exact role and the results. 

They may say “tell me about a time when ………” The skill here is to steer the answers to the best work you have done. Aim to demonstrate how you understand the challenges of today’s complex supply chains, especially theirs. This should lead the interviewers to outline their current problem areas. 

What competencies are employers looking for?  

Problem-Solving

Day-to-day supply chain management involves facing unexpected problems, failures and disruptions. Interviewers need to find out if candidates can identify issues and establish root causes. You may be asked to explain how you resolved types of situations or if you did not, what lessons you learned.

Analytical Skills

To stay competitive companies have to find ways to reduce costs, move goods more quickly and manage supporting operations. You will need to demonstrate your ability to find solutions and implement process improvements using available data.

Communication

Interviewers want to know how you can manage difficult situations such as an angry customer or unhappy service provider.  They will try and establish whether there is likely to be a communication barrier between you and others, both internally and externally.

Global Perspective

Businesses are becoming increasingly global; online connectivity is available 24/7. Interviewers are likely to try to establish your grasp of economics, cultural differences and current world events that may impact their business. 

Five favourite supply chain interview questions

Q1. What is supply chain management? or  What are the key elements of supply chain management?

A. There is no one correct answer. Basically, the purpose of SCM is to make goods or services readily available to fulfil customer demand. One possible answer is “supply chain management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all logistics management activities.” (CSCMP’s definition). 

Consider adapting your answer to suit the employer; its business may be more involved in services than goods.   

Q2. What experience can you bring this role?

A. This is where you can shine. Using what you know from the job specification, be prepared to explain what you have achieved in similar circumstances.  .The key is to be specific and factual when describing projects. Include actual values such as savings achieved, processes improved and size of teams. Go on to describe how these projects benefitted your employer. 

Interviewers use the STAR technique:

  • SITUATION  you were in
  • TASK performed
  • ACTION you took
  • RESULT of this activity.

Important: do not overstate your level of experience. It is possible that the interview will dig deep. 

Q3. How can you add value to our business?

A. Your research into the current financial and operational status of the company and its place in the market is useful here. Listen carefully to any additional information the interviewer gives you on what’s important to them so that you can respond directly to their problem areas in the supply chain. 

Explain about your ability to use the new tools and technologies available, how you would improve supplier relationships and what you would do to save them money, (e.g. reduce inventory, eliminate wastage, procure better).  The aim is to demonstrate your understanding of the role on offer and how you are a perfect fit for their needs.

Q4. How much do you know about our company and our supply chain?

A.  Organisations expect you to know what they do, where they fit into their industry hierarchy and who their main competitors are. You have to demonstrate that you have done the required homework. They may ask for example: “what do you know about our products and services” or “what is our approach to sustainability?”

Fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers and retailers are particularly expert at this. Interviewees at L’Oréal and Diageo have been asked for detail about product ranges, customer bases and global sales figures.

Q5. How are you keeping up with the new developments in supply chain management?

A. Explain what you are actively doing to understand the new developments in processes and technology, especially as it affects their operations. However, be honest and realistic when you express how you will use this new knowledge to further their goals.

The interviewer is trying to assess your future potential. Consider your answer to an imaginary question such “ what do you think we can do to improve our supply chain agility?”

A hot tip

Many inexperienced interviewers ask silly and irrelevant questions. Some questions are just pointless such as “what is your greatest weakness?” or “how would you describe yourself in three words?”  

Read up on these inane questions beforehand and be prepared to address them with stock answers.

At the end of the interview

Ask questions about any areas that you feel have not been adequately covered to your satisfaction. Remember, they may be interviewing you but you are also considering whether you want to work for them. After thanking the interviewer, ask about the next steps in the process and a possible time frame for an offer. This is the point at which you have the opportunity to close the deal. 

10 Phrases You Should Never Say at Work – Best of the Blog 2019

What are the phrases you should avoid in the workplace? We reveal the top ten most irritating and annoying phrases that are guaranteed to wind up your colleagues…

never say these phrases
Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

This article was originally published in June.

Some are just totally meaningless pieces of jargon – thrown into the conversation to disguise the fact that you have don’t know what you talking about. Others are downright rude or deliberately confusing. While some of the things we say at work just make us look stupid.

So, what are the phrases to avoid? Well the top 10 most irritating and annoying phrases to say at work (things that are guaranteed to wind up your colleagues) are:

1. With all due respect

When someone says this, what do they actually mean?

Often, it is the exact opposite… this is just a passive/aggressive way of saying, “I know better than you”.  Respect you? Well, they obviously don’t.

So, it is probably no surprise that these four words really wind us up and have been voted the most aggravating in the workplace by around half of those surveyed by CV-Library. If you are ever tempted to use this phrase (even ironically), don’t.

2. Reach out

The problem with this phrase, is that it can have so many meanings. When you thank someone for “reaching out” to you, are you implying they are offering to help you or that they are asking for help? Telling someone else to do this (as in ‘go and reach out to accounts’) is patronising particularly if what you really want them to do is make contact in a highly professional manner.

While “I’ll get my people to reach out to you” is incredibly confusing. What does mean? That they will be in touch next week? Or is this just a polite way of saying “don’t call us and we won’t call you”?

3. At the end of the day and 4. It is what it is

So, the boss is stumped…and cannot think of a solution. So, they say “it is what it is” as a way of saying let’s just accept a bad situation. Worse, “at the end of the day” implies that what will be, will be. Put the two phrases together – At the end of the day, it is what it is – and you might as well throw your hands in the air and give up. Please: just say it like it is.

5. Think outside the box

What is wrong with telling someone to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions? Context. Generally, you are told to “think outside the box” when everyone else is stumped for ideas. So, you are being asked to do the impossible. Also, most organisations don’t actually welcome unconventional and original thinking.

6. Let’s regroup

This is another phrase that has too many meanings. Is this a polite way of telling a group that they are all useless and new people need to be brought into the meeting? Or that you need fresh ideas? Or just more time to think of new ideas? Confused? You will be.

7. Can I borrow you for a second? and 8. Have you got two minutes?

Another irritating habit is using a euphemism to impose on your time when you are already extremely busy. Let’s face facts: the interruption is never for two minutes let alone a second. The person who uses this phrase, knows you would refuse to give up your afternoon to help them. But when they pretend that all they need is just a small amount of your time, it is really hard to say “’no” without appearing difficult. Irritating, isn’t it? When you are tempted to use either of these phrases, think about that.

9. At this moment in time

This is a great way to obfuscate when you do not have a clue/haven’t completed the project/forgot to follow a lead/don’t want to commit to a yes or no.  etc. So, “Is the client going to make that purchase?”. Answer: “At this moment in time, they are considering it”. The truth? Anyone’s guess.

10. Get the ball rolling

This is a bit last century when sporting metaphors dominated the world of business gobbledegook. Remember: “pass the ball”, “left field”, and “knocking it out of the park”?  Not only is this dated, once again it is not good communication… tell it like it is.

Surprisingly, motoring metaphors such as “in the fast lane”, “shift up a gear”, “put the brakes on”…or that highly annoying “let’s park this to one side”, don’t feature in the top ten.

So next time you are tempted to slip into jargon remember it is highly irritating. Also, being direct gets better results. “People may take what you are saying the wrong way,” says Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library. “If you’re hinting a circling back to the task later or asking for more hands on deck, this can come across as rude. Are they not good enough for this task?”

….AND THE 10 THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY IF YOU WANT A PROMOTION

While jargon is annoying, in an interview for a step-up the career ladder, it is being too informal that is the problem.

What are you trying to convey? If you are a more mature candidate, perhaps you believe (wrongly) that saying words like “epic fail” makes you down with the kids. It doesn’t.

Or if you genuinely litter your conversations with “totes” perhaps you don’t realise that this is NOT the way to get a better job (even if it is a very informal setting). It is just not professional.

So don’t be tempted. These are the buzzwords employers are fed up with hearing:

  1. Literally 
  2. Like
  3. Just sayin’ 
  4. Banter
  5. Totes
  6. Amazeballs
  7. My bad
  8. Yolo 
  9. Me thinks
  10. Sorry not sorry

“Be mindful that if you’re after a promotion, your employer won’t appreciate you saying a buzzword like ‘my bad’ to excuse yourself for making a mistake,” advises Lee Biggins who warns that using colloquialisms makes you appear less intelligent, can confuse colleagues if they don’t know exactly what you mean and frustrates those you work with because there is a “lack of substance” behind what you’re saying.