Category Archives: Procurious News

Will 2020 Be Our 50-50 Year? How To Help More Women Into Leadership In Procurement

The business case for diversity is clear – diverse teams and leaders are more innovative, collaborative, successful and profitable. But when it comes to diversity in leadership, we’re not where we need to be. How do we get there?

Procurement as a profession has proven our ability to change, to adapt and to thrive. From order takers, to expediters, to deal and market makers, we have proven we know how to make the most of an opportunity to create value, and we’ve been able to do so in ways never done before. 

Yet to realise the true potential of our profession, there’s one thing I know we need to achieve that we haven’t as yet, and that is: gender equality in leadership. 

Across the board, procurement performs above average from a gender perspective. A recent survey from our recruitment partners, The Source, revealed that 38% of leaders and managers in procurement are female (compared to the 30% average across all professions). This is a great start, but we’re still losing too many women along the way – when you look at entry statistics, 48% of procurement graduates are female. 

If we’re doing well, then, why do better? Better diversity can help us better manage complexity and enhance profitability, as I’ll explain below. And in good news, there are (at least) five things you can do right now to help your team get there. 

Why is increased diversity particularly important for procurement? 

As Deloitte pointed out in their 2019 Chief Procurement Officer report, CPOs (and increasingly, all of us in procurement) have to be “complexity masters” to excel at work. As we know all too well, complexity is now coming in all shapes and sizes, including trade wars, climate change and new regulations (external complexities), stakeholder alignment (internal complexity), people, organisational models and business plans (talent complexity) and finally, digital disruption. Managing one aspect of this is challenging enough; managing all can feel overwhelming. 

But greater diversity can help us do it all. Firstly, with diversity comes multiple perspectives and enhanced innovation, which will help us identify multiple solutions to solve the complex problems we face.

Diversity also helps us with everything inside our own four walls. The more diverse we are, the more likely we’ll represent the interests of those we serve, including our organisation’s customers – who are ultimately our customers. And not only do we represent our customers and stakeholders, we also better represent our own staff when we’re diverse, as we’re better able to understand them and make decisions that enhance their wellbeing. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, given the expectation of strategic business partnering from procurement, diverse teams have been shown to be up to 35% more profitable. With procurement functions now often required to do more with less, diversity can be a key driver in increasing our value-add and securing resources to innovate and grow. 

How to increase diversity in leadership in procurement

The challenges faced in retaining women in leadership in procurement echo those of wider society: inequality with paternity leave, unconscious bias and a lack of flexibility. But there’s so much we can do to counteract these, even on an individual level, and you don’t need to wait for society or even your organisation to catch up. If you want to reap the benefits of greater diversity in your team, try the following:

1. Give (public) praise 

In order to reach a position of influence, you have to be noticed. And unfortunately, sometimes being noticed can be as much about announcing what you’re done as it can be about the actual achievement in the first place. 

This can be particularly problematic for women, whom research shows can be punished for advocating for themselves. To counteract this, try giving public praise to women you believe deserve to get noticed. Whether it be on Procurious, LinkedIn, in a meeting or in front of an influential executive, giving praise can help someone be recognised and hopefully promoted. 

2. Encourage others to have a go

Across the board, there’s a big difference in how women and men apply for roles. Men will apply for a job when they have 60% of the required skills and experience, whereas women apply when they’ve got closer to 100%.

Although this is a stereotype, there’s never any harm doing what you can to prevent it. So if you know a talented female and there’s a role going, why not encourage her to have a go? 

3. Mentor and sponsor 

Whether or not you’ve got diversity as an official target or KPI in your team, as a leader, you’re no doubt responsible for performance. Knowing that, it’s important that you mentor and sponsor other more junior procurement professionals – especially females. 

Your mentoring can be any arrangement that suits you and the mentoree – you may want to meet regularly but informally or alternatively, you might put a more formal development plan in place. If you choose to be a ‘sponsor,’ though, you should be more active – as a sponsor, your responsibility is to specifically advocate for the person you’re working with in the hope of securing them a promotion (like giving public praise, but with a very specific end goal in mind!). 

If you want to increase your impact, you could even mentor someone outside of your organisation. Procurious and The Faculty run mentoring programs in both the UK and Australia, get in touch if you’re interested.

4. Role model flexibility – regardless of your situation

If you’ve ever been in any type of leadership role, you’ll know that you can influence your people as much (or more) with your actions than with your words. One of the most important ways to influence your people is to show you trust them through giving them flexibility. 

Flexibility is fast becoming the norm these days and for good reason – employees offered flexible work are more than 20% happier and more productive, and flexibility is the number one benefit sought by all employees, across the board. Yet still, there can be a ‘stigma’ around flexibility and when it is offered, it’s offered mostly to working mothers, which further entrenches (unhelpful) stereotypes. 

But if you’re in a position of influence, you can change this. No matter what your situation – mother, father, or non-parent, if you lead by example by both working flexibly and allowing it, you’ll help remove the stigma and as a result, help create better diversity.

5. Campaign for equal rights and equal opportunities 

Although unconscious bias is still an issue, one of the biggest reasons that there are less women in leadership roles in organisations is that they have career breaks that their male counterparts may not have, by way of maternity leave(s). 

But if you’re in a position of influence, you can change this by giving fathers a much sought-after opportunity to be at home. Numerous big companies have all recently removed the terms ‘primary and secondary carer’ and instead offered equal leave to all new parents. Why not advocate for this at your organisation? 

In our profession, a lot can change in a year. So why not make this year the year we all rally together and create a change we can be proud of? Our profession is complex, but helping more women into leadership doesn’t need to be. Diversity benefits us all, so let’s all do what we can to help propel more women into leadership. 

Tania Seary is the founder of Procurious and a passionate advocate for gender equality. If you’re interested to learn more about how to help women in leadership, tune in to our podcast ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Job – Your Path to the Top’ webinar on January 23rd, 2:30pm BST. Register for it here.

20 Ways To Get Job-Ready for 2020

This is the most popular month to make a career change, which means there’s even more competition – if you want to stand out from the crowd, it pays to be prepared.

Job-seeking is not a numbers game – all you need is one great job offer.

So, get yourself ready to be open to the right opportunities. Follow my list of 20 ways to get job-ready.

1. Don’t set goals – you will be setting yourself up to fail or to make a bad choice

If you set yourself a target of finding a new job by March, say, or earning a particular salary, you will be putting pressure on yourself to accept a job offer even if it is not the best career move for you. 

2. Think about why you’re leaving – just to be sure

Moving jobs takes time and is risky – you have little job security for the first 2 years. 

So work out why you are dissatisfied with your current role.

Need more flexibility? Ask to work a day a week at home.

Want to learn a new skill? Then put in a request. 

You’ve nothing to lose if you are planning to leave anyway. 

3. Make it a positive choice – desperation is not a good look 

Not only will you be in danger of accepting any job rather than the right one, hiring managers want to recruit someone who is positive and passionate about the job, not someone who is disgruntled and oozes negativity.

4. Focus on what you’ll gain – it will energise you

Change your mindset by focusing on what you want to gain, not what you want to leave behind. 

Make a list of all the positives you want from your new role.

For example, if you are stuck in a rut with no prospect of promotion, then training and development and opportunities to progress should be a priority in your job search. If you hate your commute, the location will be key. 

This list will help narrow your search – and help motivate you to make a change.

5. Be patient – it might take time 

Remember, it will probably take until Easter (at the earliest) before you start a new role, so don’t rush into the wrong decision.

6. Remain loyal – it will pay off 

Yes, it’s hard to give your best when all you can think about is leaving – however, don’t relax just yet because you will want a good reference and you might be working in your current role for some time. 

Never badmouth your employer. It could get back to the boss (awkward) or make future employers wary of hiring someone who is obviously so discontented.

7. Identify your strengths – and weaknesses 

You need to be clear about what you can offer future employers. 

To discover what your ‘brand’ is, ask trusted friends and colleagues to list the 5 or 10 things they think you do well – perhaps you have good technical skills or are good at being collaborative?

Then ask if there are any aspects of your personality or performance that they think need work – maybe you are not so good at organisation?

8. Search online for keywords that will sell you 

Next, match what you have to offer with the jobs you are interested in. A quick scan of job boards to see what recruiters are looking for will identify the keywords you need to include in your job applications – from ‘collaborative’ to ‘commercial’. 

Make a list. Then rephrase your skills so they fit these descriptions – for example, ‘ambitious’ could be ‘target-driven’. 

9. While you are looking, is there anything you are missing? 

If nearly every job spec is asking for a particular skill, then perhaps it’s time to get a qualification. 

For example, if the spec says ‘must be proficient in data analytics, including Excel’ and you use Excel but don’t have a certificate, go online and do a quick course. If there are any glaring gaps in your skills, perhaps you need to invest in a professional qualification. 

Also, check out the Procurious Training & Learning section.

10. Update your CV – only a generic one at this stage

Pay attention to the style: No more than two sides of A4.

Start with a personal statement. List jobs with the most recent first and avoid giving your entire life history. Focus on what you can do rather than what you have done. 

Include some examples of where you have met/exceeded expectations using the STAR (situation, task, activity, result) approach. This will clearly demonstrate you are up to the job without appearing arrogant. 

Don’t be tempted to invent hobbies and interests to make yourself appear more interesting or to lie (dates, job titles etc. are easy to check). 

And don’t forget to double-check grammar and spelling.

11. Remember to tailor your application/CV to each role 

When you get to the stage of applying, carefully read the job specification and include all of the keywords listed – using the exact same wording. 

Look through your list of skills and keywords that sell your brand and include those that are required or you think will add value to the job. Remember, at this stage, you need to show that you are an obvious fit for the job.

12. Have a professional photo taken

While many recruiters hate photos on CVs, they do like to see them online – either on your own website (if you have one) or your online profiles. 

A really good photo (remember to smile or at least look approachable) is, therefore, a must. At the very least, avoid holiday or party selfies.

13. Get your online presence ready – LinkedIn in particular

Think of this as your shop window – a potential employer or recruitment consultant might come across your profile and at the very least will check it. 

Ask a few key contacts if they will provide you with a recommendation and add a bit of personality by posting a few blogs or sharing some newsworthy links. Also, boost your network by requesting others to join it – the more senior the better.

14. Use Procurious as a resource

Make sure your Procurious profile is more than just a bland description of your current job. 

Use phrases like ‘passionate about’, ‘driven’ and/or ‘highly experienced’ and really sell yourself – don’t forget a photo. 

Also, click on ‘Build your network’ and start to reach out to professionals in key positions – someone might even approach you to offer you a job. 

15. Don’t forget to clean up your social media 

An inappropriate image or even just liking a less-than-tasteful joke can rule you out of a job.

16. Get signed up to job boards 

Get the apps (you can search on your daily commute) and sign up for job alerts (so you don’t miss an opportunity).

17. Identify your ideal employers 

Make a list of the firms you would like to work for and start researching them – you will want to talk their language in your job applications and be prepared for interviews. 

Also, check out glassdoor.co.uk to see how existing employees rate them – to avoid making a bad move.

18. Engage in strategic networking 

Find ways to network with staff who work for your ideal employers to find out what it is like to work there. 

You can then ask them if they have a referral scheme (existing employees are often given a bonus for recommending a new employee) or to let you know if there are any opportunities. 

19. Encourage approaches – a bit like putting up a ‘For Sale’ sign

Many job movers don’t ever apply for a new role. Instead, they are approached. 

Go to LinkedIn and click on ‘Show recruiters you are open to job opportunities’. (Don’t worry – you can control who sees this, so the boss won’t necessarily find out.) 

Also, get on the books of recruitment consultants specialising in your area so they can put your name forward for any relevant jobs.

20. Practise your pitch – it will keep you positive

Some people find it awkward to self-promote while others just come across as arrogant.

So practise telling stories that showcase how you have met a challenge, achieved a target or developed a skill – you can use these on application letters, when networking and in interviews.

It’s also a very self-affirming – and will help you deal with the disappointment when employers don’t even bother to acknowledge your application or reject you. 

So keep these 20 tips in mind to boost your spirits while job-hunting – and increase your chances of success. Good luck!

And if 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 for free.

How To Get Moving On Your Career Path To The Top

Ambitious and driven? Plot your way to the top with the help of the Procurious webinar featuring advice from three senior leaders 

Are you looking for the next steps to get moving on your career path? Or are you thinking of quitting the day job in search of a new path to the summit?

Do you have questions?

Good news! Procurious has produced a webinar, ‘Don’t Quit the Day Job – Your Path to the Top’ with all the answers you need.

We have assembled a panel of experienced senior leaders from different industries and different parts of the world – Lara Naqushbandi (Google), Christina Morrow (Ricoh USA) and Imelda Walsh (The Source) – to offer career advice. 

And they have plenty of great insights to share with you.

Plan to succeed

Top of their list of recommendations is to have a plan.

Some people like a fully worked-out, detailed action plan. Others prefer a few tasks on a to-do list. 

Either way, you’ll benefit from having made a plan. It’s a good place to start to identify the things you need to do. 

And – as Imelda points out – you’re much more likely to succeed when that plan is written down.

But once you’ve made the plan don’t feel tied to it. Don’t feel you always need to stick to the programme.

Because sometimes doing that can stop you considering potential new roles that could be a great fit for you. 

Take Christina’s advice and ask yourself how you would define professional success. Use that as your guide to consider whether to stick to or deviate from your plan when a new opportunity arises.

Ask what’s important now

Although the financial side of work is an important consideration, the panel members stress the drawbacks of being blindsided by the money associated with a role. 

‘Look at the whole package, not just the pay cheque,’ Lara advises. 

In her experience getting the balance right between work and home life is something that everyone should consider before taking on a new role.

Having a passion for what you do is something all our panel members cited as important. Imelda reports that she’s been most successful when she has a role that focuses on her passion. 

Christina has always taken time out regularly to reflect on what she enjoys doing so that she’s clear on what she might want from any prospective new position.

Take risks

Be open to taking risks.

This may involve deviating from your plan or exploring options to try something new. 

Lara is a great believer in having an openness to risk. Going off the beaten path can often bring great benefits when thinking about the next step in a career. That’s an approach that has definitely worked for her.

But taking a step up can present new challenges and in Christina’s experience, there is always something from a previous role that you can use to build on for the next. 

So don’t stay too long in one job and get bored is her advice. Take a risk and try something out of your comfort zone. 

The soft skills we use every day in procurement and supply chain – like leadership, negotiation and collaboration – are just what are needed for the challenges of a new role.

Hone your network

Having a network is a great resource you can use for securing a new role.

Imelda sees many candidates who have used a mentor to help them develop and grow, achieving great success.

And mentors can help you think about how to adjust to a culture and brief that a new job can bring. 

Moving between different companies can mean adjusting to completely new working environments and procedures – and even sometimes changing continents. 

Lara has found she’s had to adapt her style to accommodate each company’s culture and management style.

Listen in

Why not listen in to our webinar to find out more from our panel about how you can create your path to the top by:
Planning your route
Asking what’s important 
Taking risks
Making the most of your network.

Register for our upcoming (free) webinar here and start 2020 out with a bang!

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

Redefining Corporate Purpose – Is It Time For Boards To Adopt ‘Total StakeHolder Value’?

Major challenges such as spiralling inequality and climate breakdown are putting corporations under pressure to rethink their very purpose. The Maturity Institute has developed a ‘responsible business model’ that puts people at the heart of business and produces best value for stakeholders as well as shareholders.

Is your company facing an existential crisis?

To provoke discussion at a recent Procurious CPO roundtable, I suggested that each participant was working for a company that was already in the midst of one.

Why did I say this? From the London Financial Times calling for a re-setting of capitalism to US CEOs shattering the prevailing paradigm of profit maximization, to investment firms in the City of London calling for a renewal of stakeholder-focused value creation, the purpose of corporations is under intense scrutiny – and facing pressure to change.

The questioning of corporate purpose is putting firms into a state of flux.

If shareholders (or owners) are no longer to be accorded primacy in setting strategies designed to deliver the best financial returns, then what else should be driving them? 

How, and for whom, a firm creates value has become a boardroom conundrum like no other.

Text Box: “This topic blew my mind…my question is now – which organizations are going to take the big leap forward on this?” 
Procurious CPO Roundtable participant, November 2019

A Host Of Challenges

Environmental and human problems arising from business and economic activity have continued to surface at an alarming rate. Poverty, human rights, slavery and growing inequality have become more acute.

Climate breakdown is now impacting all around us. Polluting plastic swirls around in our oceans, contaminating marine life, while toxic pesticides find their way into our bodies via food systems, and poisonous air may be undermining our health every day.

Customers, investors and workers are not just asking questions about their involvement with firms that do not seek to address and resolve these problems, they are increasingly avoiding them altogether.

Governments and regulators are also under growing pressure to restrict or revoke licenses where firms do not work to address such issues or fail to provide real benefit to local communities. 

So what should your own company do to meet these challenges?

It is evident that firms that understand how to simultaneously serve society and perform financially will be the ones that can survive and thrive.

Shareholders And Stakeholders: A Common Purpose

Since 2012, the Maturity Institute (MI) has been building a responsible business model that shows how companies can produce the very best stakeholder and shareholder value by putting people at their heart.

By aligning management systems to leverage and realize the potential value of all their human stakeholders, companies can competitively differentiate themselves from their peers.

For procurement heads, this specifically includes suppliers. This is an area in which value-based relationships (as opposed to those driven more by cost parameters), together with appropriate system design, should lead to superior outcomes.

Moving from a ‘shareholder’ to a ‘stakeholder’ business system requires an understanding of what this entails across an organization’s whole system – including workers, customers, investors, suppliers and wider society.

It also requires engaging everyone in the pursuit of a common purpose.

Total Stakeholder Value

Our work is designed to act as a practical guide, to set out a way forward for boards, C-suites and managers to pursue a goal focused on creating healthy organizations through what we call Total Stakeholder Value (TSV).

This is not based on a theoretical perspective but on existing, exemplary ‘mature’ organizations.

At MI, we teach the invisible factors that have enabled organizations like Toyota, Handelsbanken and Mercadona to lead the world in a direction that is in everyone’s interests. These are companies that have a central purpose rooted in serving society.

Alongside financial outperformance, they have consistently delivered the best-quality products and customer service ahead of peers.

In achieving this, they have deliberately designed high-value management systems, including supplier relationships, and have also led others on managing out harm, in either environmental or human terms.

Organisational maturity

To help companies identify how these factors play out within their own organization, we deploy Organizational Maturity Ratings (OMR) to uncover the intrinsic value and risk arising from the company’s whole human ‘ecosystem’.

Our open-source OM30 diagnostic looks at 32 inter-related questions and is able to identify and predict the likelihood of material human value and risk arising from critical causal drivers, such as:

  • Formulating and articulating a corporate purpose of Total Stakeholder Value (TSV) maximization
  • Identifying whether an organization’s business strategy and operating model are predicated on reconciling its (market) value with changing societal values
  • Checking the extent of trust placed in the leadership and management team by customers, employees and other key stakeholders
  • Determining whether the organization is planning to maximize the value it generates from all of its human capital value (both internal and external, e.g. supply chain)
  • Considering the evidence of any never-ending, continuous improvement philosophy being operationalized.

By examining these factors across their whole system, companies can, at last, gauge a baseline of true corporate responsibility and how it affects total value generation.

Strategies For Transition

This also enables executives and managers to identify key strategies that will help the transition to a corporate purpose of TSV – one that drives financial, human and environmental performance that can also be measured and monitored.

For CPOs, the OM30 also has a specific additional application – in helping to assess the suitability of suppliers. Here it acts as a measure of alignment with parent-company culture and human systems, and can be used to determine levels of supplier responsibility and fit, above and beyond any compliance requirements.  

MI is using its methodology and building its evidence base by working with corporations, investment managers and academic institutions to help them understand the relationship between the OM30 and a range of value and risk outcomes.

Recent academic testing of our data has shown:

“…the benefits to shareholders and stakeholders are not mutually exclusive; in other words, the value to business, shareholders, stakeholders and society are aligned. A company can maximize profits and create wealth for shareholders mainly by establishing a mature institution that enhances well-being for all legitimate stakeholders as well as create positive externalities to the environment and the wider society. 

Cambridge Judge Business School, March, 2019 

We can all participate in encouraging, demanding, designing, building and facilitating the process of change that is now necessary; to help create many more mature, exemplary firms that can lead others.

MI is actively helping stakeholders to play their part.

Stuart Woollard is Council Member at the Maturity Institute. The Mature Corporation – A Model of Responsible Capitalism, co-authored with Paul Kearns, is available with a 20% discount using code Corporation20 from Cambridge Scholars Publishing https://www.cambridgescholars.com/the-mature-corporation.

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!

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.

Save the Date! Procurious is your Perfect Partner for 2020

Time to get out your diary and save some important dates. Whatever events you’re looking for in 2020, Procurious is your perfect partner in procurement.

2020 Save the Date
Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Yes, we know it’s only a few days into the New Year. But we’re so excited about the great events we’re got coming up this year that we just can’t wait any longer! Since Procurious first came into being in 2014, we’ve had the aim of putting on a show when it comes to great procurement and supply chain-related events.

And 2020 is no different.

But, as we know you are all busy people, and that diaries tend to fill up fast, we thought we would share some important dates for you to pencil in. That way we can help you plan, and you won’t miss out on anything we’ve got in store for you during the year.

We pride ourselves on making sure we’re offering great content for every member of our community. Not only will we be bringing you webinar discussions on some of the hottest topics facing procurement and supply chain right now, but we’ve also signed up of the some of best leaders, thinkers and speakers around, all set to help you get involved.

So, whether it’s webinars or Roundtables, Summits or podcast series, there’s something here for you in 2020.

Empowering Webinars

We know how much you like a webinar, so we’ve got a great line-up already sorted. We hit the lift-off button in only a couple of weeks from now on the 23rd of January with the highly relevant, ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Job’.

Procurious’ own Helen Mackenzie will be joined by special guests Lara Naqushbandi from Google, Christina Morrow of Ricoh and Imelda Walsh from The Source to discuss all things careers. With topics covering everything from making sure you have a solid plan before you start the quest for a new role to the one change you can make right now to get you on the path to the top, it’s sure to be a cracking start to the new year.

Following this, we’re keeping up a regular plan of webinars throughout the year. You’ll be able to find dates in the Procurious Events Calendar, and we’ll keep you up to date via the Blog and handy email invitations.

High-Powered Roundtables

We’ve extended our CPO Roundtable programme for 2020, with events in London and Edinburgh. We’ll be gathering some of the profession’s top CPOs in the region, or dare we say in the world to serve up new ideas and spark the wisdom of the crowd as they discuss some of the biggest challenges facing procurement and supply chain now.

Although these events aren’t open to everyone, we still like to share some of the great ideas in the Procurious community, as well as a selection of Blog articles in the lead up to the event, and wrapping up the best of the talking points and key takeaways after.

If you’re a senior leader can want to attend a London or Edinburgh Roundtable event, please contact Laura Hine by clicking here.

Perfect Podcasts

If podcasts are your particular flavour of professional development, then 2020 will deliver for you too. We have a week of supply chain themed podcasts, partnering with IBM, from the 11th of May. Then returning in October is our annual Career Boot Camp, with all new speakers and all the best career advice you need.

One of the best things about our podcast series, besides the great coaches and content, is that, at 15 minutes, they are a short, sharp way to get your learning in for the day. If you want to get a flavour of what to expect, you can find all our 2019 podcasts in the Learning Area here on the Procurious website.

Biggest of Big Ideas (2020)

Big Ideas Summit isn’t just the world’s first digitally-led procurement event, it has a global reputation as the most innovative leadership event for the profession. And 2020 is going to be bigger than ever … and that’s not just because our theme is ‘Dream Big’.

Not only do we have Rugby World Cup Winning Head Coach and former Olympic Team GB Director of Sport, Sir Clive Woodward OBE presenting, but a range of the world’s most influential thinkers, eminent business leaders, and commercially creative minds converging in London on March 11 for Big Ideas Summit London.

As always, we’re offering you the opportunity to join us, either online, or in the room with other global thought-leaders. Registration is already open for this unmissable event. After London, Procurious will be visiting global members in Chicago (September) and Sydney (November), and we’ll be releasing more details on these events closer to the time.

Sign Up, Prepare to Soar

We’re sure this has all whetted your appetite for 2020 and the great events Procurious has to offer. If you have any questions at all on the events, you can get in touch with the team via the website, or on one of our social media platforms.

We hope to see as many of you as possible at these events during the year, so sign up now and get ready for your career to soar high this year.

How to Explain Procurement Using a Christmas Turkey

Still struggling to explain procurement to your friends and relatives? This festive season, why not put it in easily understandable terms – using your Christmas turkey?

Christmas turkey
Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

“So, er … Cindy – what is it you actually do?” 

It’s the holiday season, which means that at some point you’re likely to find yourself making small talk at a social event with someone who is showing polite interest in what you do for a living.

The trouble is, the word “procurement” is quite often met with a blank look. I know that I certainly had no idea what the term meant the first time it was mentioned, and even today I’m still discovering that there’s way more to procurement than the word suggests.

So, how should you answer someone who presses you on what procurement actually is?

Don’t be boring

Let’s have a look at some of the common definitions of procurement that come up with a basic Google search.

From Wikipedia (a quote from MIT press):

“Procurement is the process of finding and agreeing to terms, and acquiring goods, services, or works from an external source, often via a tendering or competitive bidding process.”

Sorry, I think I nodded off in the middle of reading that! Apart from being wordy and dull, the real problem with this definition is that it talks about process rather than outcomes. Nobody cares about tenders or competitive bidding processes. They’d rather hear about outcomes such as money saved, the eradication of modern slavery, and environmental benefits.

In its whitepaper on this very topic, CIPSA canvassed its members to come up with this definition:

“Procurement is the business management function that ensures identification, sourcing, access and management of the external resources that an organisation needs or may need to fulfil its strategic objectives.”

Accurate, but soporific. What’s needed is a definition that explains procurement in a way any layperson would understand.

Don’t make it just about buying

Usually, my advice would be to keep your definition as simple as possible. But oversimplifying procurement inevitably ends up with procurement being described as “buying” or “purchasing” only.

I once witnessed a CPO dad telling his six-year-old daughter: “I do the shopping for my organization; I’m the one pushing the giant shopping trolley.” It’s a great image, but procurement does so much more than sourcing products and services.

Without trying to cram everything a procurement professional does into your answer (the other person will roll their eyes and walk away), try to capture some of the activities procurement does beyond sourcing: identifying cost savings, building relationships, managing risk, driving innovation and sustainability.

Procurement and the Christmas turkey

Let’s assume you’re sitting around the table at Christmas lunch when your partner’s elderly and inquisitive great-aunt asks you what procurement is. While you take a few seconds to consider your answer, your gaze rests on the magnificent turkey in front of you.

Why not use the turkey to help illustrate what procurement does? Let’s give it a try:

“Well, Aunt Edna, take this turkey as an example. Someone here had to go to the shops and buy that turkey – that’s simple enough. But imagine if you worked for a company that wanted to buy 100,000 turkeys.

It would be procurement’s job to first of all understand exactly what type of turkeys the company needs. Then we’d look around for suppliers who can not only reliably fulfill an order this large, but do it on time, with every turkey meeting quality expectations. Procurement would negotiate with that turkey supplier to get the best-possible price by seeking a bulk purchase discount.

But it’s not just about reliability, quality and price – it’s also about sustainability and social outcomes. Is there a supplier who breeds turkeys in a more sustainable way than others?

Are the turkeys cruelty-free and free-range?

Are the human workers paid fairly, and do they work in safe conditions?

Can we spend our turkey budget with a minority-owned supplier, or one that focuses on positive social outcomes such as hiring workers with disabilities?

What else can that supplier do for us? Is there some sort of innovation they can come up with (such as cheaper or more sustainable packaging) that would be beneficial for both my company and the supplier?

So you see, Edna … (oh, she’s fallen asleep).”

Further reading

Looking for more inspiration to help you explain procurement to others? Check out these other resources:

UNA is a Group Purchasing Organisation that generates cost savings for members across a wide range of products and services (including Christmas turkeys).

Procurement – Are We Our Own Worst Enemies?

We spend so long looking outwards at the wider environment for our key issues. But are we missing the elephant in the room? Is Procurement actually one of Procurement’s worst enemies?

own worst enemies
By MarinaP/ Shutterstock

For anyone who has experience working in public sector procurement, the strictures of the rules and regulations are well known and often highly frustrating. So it would have come as a surprise to many when former UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced a plan that would ‘free the NHS’ from Government procurement rules.

Cue many cornflakes being choked upon around the UK upon hearing this news. And then numerous procurement professionals taking a very keen interest in where the story was going next. 

After all, if you were to speak to any procurement professional with experience of working in the public sector (and their client departments), you would probably get a fair picture pretty quickly of the key barrier, hindrance, ball and chain impacting their work. Administration, bureaucracy, paperwork, regulations – take your pick. Once you enter a public sector procurement process, it’ll be a while before you emerge out the other side. 

That’s not to say that these are bad things. The regulations help to bring openness, honesty and transparency to the process. They also make it fully auditable and able to be used as a shield against bad practice and spurious challenges. That said, there isn’t a single procurement professional who wouldn’t love to drop the regulations once in a while.

Who wouldn’t love a bit of extra ‘freedom’ to spend money in a more effective and efficient way. 

Worst Enemies – Self-Inflicted Pain 

Putting aside the UK and EU-wide regulations for a minute as an unavoidable consequence of public procurement (Prime Ministerial intervention pending…), we can turn a lens on the processes that procurement has set up for itself. Sure, the regulations are a pain, but they’re part and parcel of doing the job. What isn’t is the self-inflicted pain of all the additional administration that procurement loads on itself. 

Take a closer look at the processes in your organisation. Are they as lean as they can be? Do you have a set of toolkit documents that you can use for all your process? Or are you mired in repetitive documents that are all required, but aren’t adding any value to the process? 

This additional burden not only extends an already lengthy process, but also curtails the valuable time of your procurement professionals. Want a happy procurement team? Then it’s value and management, not process and admin. 

In previous articles, I’ve outlined both the importance of time management, but also the use of collaborative frameworks and other procurement routes that can be used to help use this precious time more effectively. What is more problematic, however, are the timescales attached to the procurement process that is specific to the individual organisation. 

Tender regulations aside, we’re talking about the additional time procurement builds into its own process that is potentially avoidable. Think internal approval processes, report writing and flurries of emails that could be taken care of with a short conversation or a really good document storage system. 

Strategies and Stakeholders 

Beyond this is a perceived acceptance by procurement of being strung along by Client department and stakeholders. Not just in taking on additional tasks for these groups, but not being strong enough to push back when things clearly aren’t progressing.

This is not an open invitation to undermine stakeholder relationships or burn bridges. But make it clear that a single stakeholder’s requirements are not the only thing that a Procurement Officer is working on, let alone responsible for. 

By having this bit of extra support for pushing back on project teams that are dragging their feet with important information or documents, and moving on to other projects that are set to go. Send someone to the back of the queue when they’re not ready more than once and they’ll get the message.

Finally, it’s worth considering how procurement chooses to set itself up strategically. Strategic structuring such as Category Management or embedding in project teams all have their pros and cons (enough for another article entirely). But stick too rigidly to any structure and it can cause issues. From imbalances in work levels across a department, to pigeon-holing your team members into one area or commodity, they’re all things that need to be considered on an on-going basis, not just once every 2-3 years. 

Adapt and Survive 

Not to get too Darwinian, but if procurement continues down some of these paths, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that we could see the profession as we know it cease to be. Market environments, technology and even organisations continue to grow and adapt organically. So why does procurement keep tripping itself up with rigid structures and tying itself up in bureaucracy and red tape? 

While I don’t advocate a ‘free-for-all’ approach to procurement, or believe that fully unstructured departments can work effectively all the time, there are changes that could be made to aid the survival of procurement in the long term. 

As a hero of mine once said, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Quit being part of the problem.” 

Let’s stop ignoring the elephant in the room and take a long, hard look at ourselves. Procurement has enough challenges to contend with without adding more on itself. It’s where platforms such as Procurious are such a valuable tool. By talking our problems out, we can find collective solutions to the benefit of everyone. I, for one, am trying to do better and I’d love to work with you all to do more. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and others on the challenges facing public sector procurement. Leave your comments below, or get in touch directly, I’m always happy to chat!