Tag Archives: career management

5 Ways to Make the Most of your CIPS Membership in 2021

You’ve got the membership, but how are you going to make the most of it in the year to come? Check out our five top tips.


As we enter 2021,  it’s a chance for both professionals and organisations to reap the benefits of their CIPS memberships. There are several advantages to this, but there are a few which could really help to move us all forward and ensure the profession remains aligned with organisational goals and strategies.

We’ve picked out our top five below.

1.       Chartership

We know we’ve discussed this in other articles but that doesn’t mean we can’t emphasise that it’s a way you are certain to make the most of your CIPS membership.

Chartership comes with a significant investment in terms of time and effort, but for most professionals it will be an investment they want to make. Going from MCIPS to Chartership makes it clear to colleagues, peers and current and future employers that you are serious about taking your career in procurement to the very top level.

Clocking CPD hours through learning and development, attending events, collaborating with fellow professionals and possibly even teaching or mentoring others provides a wealth of benefits. You’ll be at the forefront for knowledge on industry trends, equipping yourself with the skills procurement departments are looking for in their search for the profession’s next leaders.

2.       Global Standard for Procurement and Supply

Does your procurement department have a competency framework for all its roles and levels? Do you know how your current role measures up against the industry standard? If it doesn’t, or you aren’t sure, then help is at hand in the shape of CIPS’ Global Standard for Procurement and Supply.

CIPS has created a globally applicable competency framework which details exactly what ‘good’ looks across all industries and sectors. Individuals can use the Standard to benchmark their own role, whether that means understanding if they are at the right level, or identifying development needs to help them progress.

Organisations can also use the standard to assess how well they are performing against other procurement teams all around the world. They can create benchmarks for their team and identify any skills and/or knowledge gaps that they can fill with targeted investment and training. 

3.       Brexit

It’s almost impossible to think that something the size and importance of Brexit was pushed to one side, but that’s exactly what happened in 2020. However, with the UK’s exit from the EU confirmed on the 31st of December, it remains critical for organisations to focus on the on-going impact of Brexit on supply chains.

Supply chains were already disrupted in the run up to Christmas 2020, with the impact of COVID-19 likely to be felt for some time to come. With new regulations to follow for the import and export of goods, impacts on lead times and costs must be considered now. And that’s not to mention the impact on business travel between the UK and mainland Europe.

CIPS has pages of information, reports and knowledge sharing dedicated to Brexit for you to read and ensure you mitigate risks and build strong supply chains. It will continue to be updated and will be a valuable source of information for procurement professionals throughout 2021.

4.       Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

It’s easy to talk about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace, but it’s more difficult to make it a key pillar of organisational strategy. This year, consider what you as an individual or manager, or your organisation, needs to do to make your workplace more respectful of all inputs and opinions.

CIPS has made resources, including videos, podcasts, webinars and guidance from experts in this field, available on its website. It has a LinkedIn Group that you can join and may also be in a position to run ‘Listen and Engage Workshops’ in 2021. These are aimed at sharing knowledge and ensuring procurement and supply chain play their part in the ED&I agenda.

This shouldn’t just be an internal focus either. There are also resources to help professionals expand their supplier diversity programmes, which in turn help with organisational ethical practices.

5.       Corporate Ethics Mark

Procurement can no longer justify not having fully evidenced ethical and sustainable sourcing processes and activities. However, this is not a one-time commitment: it’s something that departments need to continuously refresh and ensure that individual and organisational qualifications and certifications are up to date.

CIPS’ “Ethical Services” can assist with this, providing resources and support organisations in operating ethically and sustainably. This includes training for individuals and departments on Modern Slavery and forms part of the training and commitment for organisations to be recognised with the CIPS Corporate Ethics Mark. Not only does this prove ethical and sustainable practices, but it also helps form the standard for the whole profession to meet.

There are our top five ideas for making the most of your CIPS membership in 2021. There are plenty others, so whatever you choose to do, make sure you really get the full benefit this year. Do you have any to add? Let us know in the comments below!

5 CIPS CPD Hacks to Boost your Lockdown Learning

Keeping up with work can be hard enough during lockdown but earning your CPD points can be even trickier. Fortunately, there are still plenty of options available to you.


Given what’s happened over the past 12 months, it might take more than a stroll down memory lane to remember what you were doing at the beginning of 2020. ‘Pandemic’ was a fun board game to play and the only corona that most of us knew of was the popular brand of beer. But perhaps you were one of the many procurement professionals who made a New Year’s resolution to gain their CIPS Chartership.

Even if they had lasted that long, by March most resolutions had been cast aside as people adjusted to a ‘new normal’. Working from home became a way of life, work largely turned to the digital side and chartership may have been put to one side to come back to once things had settled down a bit.

However, once again people are keen to push on with personal and professional development, gaining the skills and knowledge to help them progress. After all, the perfect role may not wait for normal service to be resumed. This is where a digital profession comes to the fore and shows how to turn the new normal to its advantage.

Your CPD ‘New Normal’

We’ve discussed previously about the chartership journey that people will choose to undertake. Previously, gaining and maintaining chartership was a challenge in itself. But without the CIPS Central and Branch events, procurement conferences and industry networking that would normally form the basis for annual CPD hours, maintaining chartership was only going to be harder.

And this is where CIPS have stepped in to provide its global membership with the knowledge, resources and learning that it needs to start earning those hours. And the best thing is, it’s pretty much lockdown proof!

If you are setting out on your chartership journey, or are looking for a way to hang onto your hard-earned qualifications even without being able to travel outside of your hometown, you need these five CPD hacks to help boost your learning and development during lockdown.

1. Attend a CIPS Event

CIPS usually has a wide array of events available to its members for attendance during a year. Even though people aren’t able to attend in person, there is a plethora of events still available on the CIPS Events hub. There is a mix of Central and Branch events and there is a good chance of finding something in your area.

These events are a great way to network and the advantage of them being virtually run is that members have a chance to attend some events they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. Plus, each event comes with 1-2 CPD hours for attending.

2. Do Some Online Learning

If you find yourself with some spare time, why not head over to the CIPS eLearning Portal and do some eLearning. There are courses on Ethical Procurement (key for your Ethics exam) and CIPS Qualification modules to help you brush up before exams. On top of this there are over 250 hours of courses, varying in length and topic, but all great ways of boosting your procurement knowledge.

Each hour of your eLearning can be counted towards your CPD, and CIPS will even credit you for eLearning done on other platforms too. So if – and it’s a big if – you finish all the CIPS courses, you can continue to log your CPD using applicable courses elsewhere.

3. Attend a Conference

We might not be able to attend in person, but there are plenty of procurement conferences available to attend as a digital delegate. If the conference has a theme related to the procurement profession it can be counted towards CPD hours. From CIPS to Procurement Leaders, there are plenty to choose from.

If you missed it, why not go back and revisit the Big Ideas Summit 2020 if you didn’t get the chance to attend ‘live’ on the day. Even attending a conference after the day has passed counts – all you need to do is log the hours you spend at it!

4. Give or Receive Coaching or Mentoring

Exhausted the events calendar but still want to connect with other procurement professionals? What better way to do this than linking up with your team at work, or your peers, for some coaching or informal learning. Think about procurement topics you think you could do with some help with, or maybe something work-related that you could do with some advice on.

In the digital setting, it’s even more important to keep up our connections. Use the digital tools that are available to you, or a platform like Procurious to meet up with like-minded people, and set up some training sessions. Not only do you get a chance to help your fellow professionals, but you can log CPD hours at the same time.

5. Books, Podcasts and Webinars

If virtual conferences aren’t your thing, and you’ve had plenty time sitting in front of your computer recently, you can earn CPD hours by reading a book, magazine, industry journal or published report. Or, if you prefer, listen in to a procurement podcast or webinar.

There some excellent podcasts available in the procurement sphere – here are just a few for you to try:

·   CIPS Procurement and Supply Podcast

·   Art of Procurement

·   Supply Chain Now

·   Procurement Talk with David Byrne

Key Things to Remember

Even if you can’t get out and about to do it, you’re now armed with the tools to boost your CPD hours. But there are a few things you need to remember.

Firstly, there is more that you can do to earn CPD hours than you might think – all we’ve picked out here are some of the most common ones. If you’d like more information on the CPD process and how to earn your hours, CIPS has an easy to follow guide right here.

Secondly, to make sure your time counts you’ll need to complete the CIPS Ethical Procurement and Supply eLearning and Test. You can’t be Chartered without passing this on an annual basis. Plus, it has the added bonus of making sure you’re up to date with the latest ethical procurement regulations. Finally, remember to log your CPD hours. You can do this by completing a log and updating this on your ‘My CIPS’ account online. All that’s left now is to decide how you want to earn your hours!

Career Myths That Will Sabotage Your Success

Are you heeding good career advice to continue your upward trajectory, or worn-out myths that will grind your career to a halt? Here are the most common myths that may prove a hindrance.


When it comes to career advice, some of the most successful people say you can never get enough of it. But what about if the advice you’re given is not quite right? Or worse, what about if it actually sabotages your career? A lot has changed in the world of work, but sometimes the career advice of yesteryear just doesn’t change with the times. Here are the most common career success myths, and how they might actually be sabotaging your success:  

Myth 1: Long hours is the only way to the top 

We’ve all heard the old adage before: the quickest way to the top is to arrive before your boss, and leave after her. Employers want face time warriors, we’re told. The best employees are always working, always available, and always on. 

Except, they’re not. 

This year especially, the notion of facetime, all the time, has been strongly refuted. Startlingly, one study found that managers actually couldn’t distinguish between those who worked 80 hours a week, and those who pretended to. Working long hours is also terrible for your career for a number of other reasons: it causes health problems, increases the chances you’ll get burnt out and makes decisions and communication much more difficult. 

So it’s fair to say that long hours will not lead you to the top, but it may lead you out the door. 

Myth 2: Dress for success 

The notion of ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’ seems to have been passed down the generations, and still echoes around many offices today. But will this get you the promotion you’ve got your eye on? 

Most likely, no. And there’s two reasons why. 

Firstly, one of the keys to success in business is cultural fit. If you work in a casual workplace but adopt an aspirational power suit, it’s likely that others may not perceive you as positively as they should. 

Secondly, the very best workplaces know to value someone’s performance over superficial considerations such as how they dress or look. So as much as it’s important to make an effort, trying to be the best dressed in your office is simply not that important.  

Myth 3: You should leave if you get a bad performance review 

For anyone who has ever received a bad performance review (which at some point, is most of us!), it can be a soul-crushing and highly embarrassing feeling. So awful is it that most of us will believe that there’s no coming back, and that we should immediately update our resumes and start hitting the job market. But should we? 

Companies are increasingly waking up to the fact that annual performance appraisals aren’t as effective as many originally thought they were. In fact, BBC Worklife goes as far as to say that they are pointless for most people. Increasingly, businesses are realising that they are not the be all and end all of performance, and looking at other factors instead. 

That being said, a bad performance review can still hurt. But instead of rage quitting, try to focus on what you can do to improve. Steering yourself out of a bad situation can show your boss that you’re in possession of the most important quality any employee could have: resilience.

Myth 4: Your IQ is more important than your EQ 

Are you one of those people who rolls their eyes at all of our peers because you know you’re just so much smarter than all of them? At school, it’s the most intelligent people who succeed, but in work, it can be a different matter entirely.

In the workplace, a high IQ can mean that you’ll succeed at certain jobs and be valued for your skills. But if your IQ Is high but your EQ is lacking, you’ll likely be sidelined to roles as an individual contributor, as leadership and management require a healthy dose of EQ.

Your EQ, far more than your IQ, will determine whether or not you’re promoted, and will help immensely throughout your career, assisting you to build relationships and influence others.

When it comes to career advice, not every piece of advice is created equal. Don’t let these career myths stand in the way of your success.

Are there any other career myths that you’ve felt have held you back? Let us know in the comments below. 

What Should I Look For In A Mentor?

Finding a great mentor can catapult your career – here are the defining attributes of the perfect mentor to look for.


The saying goes that no man is an island, and in a career sense what that really means is: the office can certainly feel like unchartered territory without a mentor. A mentor is something even the most talented people in the world want and need – famously, Larry Summers mentored Sheryl Sandberg, and Maya Angelou mentored Oprah Winfrey. And everyone who has ever had a mentor knows that they can be the shining north star you need to succeed, and can help you navigate everything from difficult decisions to new opportunities. They can even become lifelong friends and sponsors within an organisation, helping oversee your ascension to dizzyingly heights.

Many – if not all – CPOs credit their success to a mentor or two along the way. And this year, with COVID making it one of the most challenging years to date for a lot of us, a mentor is more important than ever to help you navigate the murky waters of leading through and after a pandemic.  

But unfortunately, not all mentors are created equal. Some really go above and beyond, yet some are not quite as useful. But how do you know the difference from the outset? 

We spoke to two successful senior professionals, Sally Lansbury, Memberships Director at The Faculty Management Consultants and Helen Mackenzie, former CPO and Principal Adviser at Procurious, about how mentors have helped shaped their careers, and what exactly we should all look for in our next mentor: 

What should a mentor experience be like? 

Sally and Helen both believe that a mentoring experience should be an overwhelmingly positive one, where you get to tap into the wisdom of someone experienced, and use them as a sounding board to navigate challenging situations. Both women said that in their past, they’ve had both formal and informal mentors, and that these mentors have helped their careers in ways they’d never imagined. 

Sally found her previous mentors extremely valuable in that she was able to learn about them, as well as use them to help her navigate decisions: 

‘For me, I have found a mentoring relationship to be particularly important as I always learn so much from other people’s experiences.’ 

‘I’ve also found that mentors are great people to bounce ideas off when you’re unsure of something.’ 

Helen also felt that her mentors were great sounding boards, but found that they were particularly useful in a different way. When Helen was eyeing the top job (of CPO in the organisation she worked for at the time), she felt that her mentor helped her hone her leadership skills: 

‘The mentor I had leading up to my promotion to CPO was exceptional. She helped me understand what leadership skills I needed to take that next step.’ 

Since changing roles from CPO to consulting, Helen has herself had the experience of being a mentor, a role which she describes as challenging but ultimately rewarding. And in a nod to her leadership capability, Helen now typifies what we all aspire to in a mentor: 

‘Right now, I’m mentoring a young man in a leadership role who is trying to navigate how to do this in an inclusive way. It’s been challenging for me to think about issues like diversity and of course gender equality from this perspective.’ 

‘But that’s the beauty of being a mentor. You always aim to put in so much more than you get back in return.’ 

What qualities should you look for in a mentor? 

So how do you tell the difference between an exceptional mentor and one that might not be as valuable? Sally, who has overseen The Faculty’s Roundtable Mentoring Program, which has, to date, seen over 1000 people receive mentoring, has a good idea of the qualities you should look for. These, she says, are: 

‘The ideal mentor should have a growth mindset and a learning attitude. They should have a genuine interest in helping you, and be able to commit real time and energy to it.’ 

‘That also need to have current and relevant industry knowledge in the area that the mentee wants to develop in.’ 

Helen agrees that these qualities are important, but she says that you need to put more focus on the person, as opposed to the qualities. Specifically, she describes the ideal mentor as someone who isn’t the same as you: 

‘Your mentor should be different from you so they can give you another perspective on the world. We spend a lot of time these days on social media in an echo chamber with people who think the same as us.’ 

‘A mentor should give you the opportunity to challenge your thinking. But you also need to be able to relate to and trust them, otherwise the relationship won’t work.’ 

How do you know if your mentor isn’t right for you? 

If your mentor doesn’t have all of the above qualities, does it mean they’re not right or worse, that they’re not doing a good job? Not at all, says Sally. In fact, in a mentoring relationship, the ball is absolutely in your court when it comes to making the effort to make the arrangement work for you: 

‘With mentoring, you only get out what you put in. As a mentee you need to be organised and be clear on your objectives at all times.’ 

What kind of experience have you had with mentors? What qualities do you look for in a mentor? Let us know in the comments below.

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

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.

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.