There’s more to short-term contracts than covering someone’s maternity leave: there are very good reasons to employ contingent labour – for you and the contractor alike! Sam White from Argentus unpacks the strategies behind Contingent Staffing.
Economists have done a lot of analysis on the rise of the so-called “gig economy.” More workers are using short-term contracts and other forms of employment to provide additional income to supplement or replace permanent jobs – think Uber, DoorDash, etc.
But more and more companies in a variety of industries are also bringing on high-skilled contingent labour for white collar positions in a number of impactful business functions like Technology, Procurement and Supply Chain.
These roles typically have similar compensation to permanent employment, with the exception that they’re on a fixed term (typically three, six, twelve, or eighteen months). Working more independently and “hitting the ground running” faster than perm employees, these workers work in consultative fashion to expand Supply Chain and Procurement capability for their clients, and then move on to the next contract.
For many of the top performers, contract work is no longer a stop-gap to permanent employment – it’s an opportunity to work in a variety of industries and projects, and broaden their experience.
So what situations are these companies using contingent staff for?
There are a variety of business cases that corporate leaders are making for contingent staffing, recognising it as a strategic and cost-effective tool in their hiring arsenal.
We put together this infographic to show some of these use cases. It places a special focus on our recruitment specialities of Procurement and Supply Chain, where our clients have increasing needs.
We start from the less strategic, more common reasons for hiring contingent staff, and move into the strategies that the most innovative business leaders around are adopting today.
This article has been republished here with kind permission from Sam White at Argentus. What’s been your experience with contracting and the gig economy, as a worker or in hiring staff? Let us know in the comments below.
After all, 75% of all people resigning are leaving their bosses, not their jobs.
But how do you know, from the outset, what you’re getting yourself into? How do you really know what your manager might be like, beyond the surface-level impressions you get at an interview?
One of most common mistakes I see candidates making is treating a job interview as a one-way street, thinking it’s simply an opportunity for the organisation to get to know them.
But that’s only half of it – and not even the most important part. A job interview is your chance to see whether the job and business you might enter align with your values. And whether your manager will help or hinder you in your career aspirations.
Clearly, though, ascertaining this when you’re the one being interviewed can feel uncomfortable.
So if you want to do so in the most discreet yet professional manner, here are my top tips for figuring out your manager during the interview process.
1. Ask about work style
When it comes to work, people’s preferences can vary greatly. Some of us feel comforted when our manager sticks close by us, reviewing all of our work and helping to guide our decisions.
Others want the exact opposite – we’re completely autonomous and we only want to contact our manager when there’s an issue we legitimately can’t solve.
Whatever your preference, it’s critical you know what your manager wants, so you can discuss it. So in your job interview, ask your potential manager about their working style. Ask questions such as:
How much input would you like into my work?
What’s the approval process for decisions?
Or simply – What’s your working style? How can we best work together?
Doing this will help you understand their style and whether you can compromise. Or whether things simply won’t work.
2. Discreetly ascertain expectations
Many candidates stumble when it comes to asking about expectations in an interview, especially if they want to ask about flexibility or work-life balance.
How do you do so and still ensure you look committed to the role?
The answer is complex, and there sometimes isn’t one correct way to approach it. However, when broaching this subject, I’ve often found it helps to do so indirectly. Here a few things you can try:
Discuss the benefits of work-life balance in your old role: Even if this balance was non-existent, try saying something like: ‘In my current (or previous) role, the business advocated for work-life balance and that helped my team perform better. What’s your approach with this?’
Enquire about the working arrangements of the team: Asking about the working arrangement of the team you’re entering can be a great way to figure out if flexible work arrangements are common are not. Consider asking something along the lines of: ‘What is the team’s schedule? Is everyone in the office on certain days or for certain hours?’ The answer should give you a clue as to whether everyone works full-time, in-office – or whether flexible work is more common.
3. Understand whether they’ll drive your career and development
In an ideal world, your manager should be your biggest champion and your biggest confidant. They should sing your praises, develop you and help you solve problems.
But understanding whether they’ll do this for you can be a challenge. It takes more than them just being a ‘nice person’ to help you get ahead.
To see how invested they are in your career and development, try asking the following questions:
Tell me about the careers of those in my team: Asking about the careers of those at your level (and a few levels above) can give you a clue as to how your manager may have helped them get there. Ask questions such as: ‘How did they get to where they are now? What opportunities were they given? What was your role in helping them get there?’
Feedback and feedforward: Asking about professional development opportunities in an interview should be a given. But beyond that, you’ll need to understand how your manager will develop you. To understand this, ask them about feedback. How often will they be giving it? Will it just be at a performance review, or more regularly?
4. Learn about your boss’s boss
In and of itself, learning about your manager’s manager is a good idea. It’s likely they’ll drive strategy and culture for the broader team, so it’s critical you understand them. But beyond this, they can also give you insight into your own manager.
When enquiring about this, ask broad questions so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to get too personal. You can ask questions such as: ‘What do you like about this business?’ And then get more specific, such as: ‘What do you like or admire about management in our team?’
Hopefully, you’ll start to understand the management style of your manager’s manager and, by association, what your own boss likes or expects.
5. Get insight into challenges, opportunities and plans
No business is ever perfect – and neither is any manager. Even the best managers can struggle in stressful situations, and it’s almost inevitable their staff may feel the heat as a result.
To see what you might be up against in this respect, try asking the following questions:
‘What’s been most challenging in this role?’ Understanding this can give you an insight into how often your manager feels under strain in the role, and as a result, how often you might expect to be stressed as a result.
‘What challenges lie ahead in this role?’ Not understanding the ‘roadmap’ for your role, team and manager when you’re interviewing is a fatal mistake. If you’re entering a bumpy or uncertain road, you need to be prepared.
‘What opportunities do you foresee?’ Opportunities are just as important as challenges, so make sure you ask about these. If your manager can see and describe plentiful opportunities ahead, you’ll know that they’re the type of manager who is often on the lookout, which is a great thing.
Are there any other discreet or not-so-discreet questions you ask to understand a manager before you take a role? Have the answers you’ve received given you insight, or have things changed when you’ve settled into the business? Share your experiences below!
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 03 9650 6665 or via email on [email protected]
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.
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.
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]
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
Are you always successful when you recruit new staff? How lessons learned the hard way can help us all succeed in the future.
Search google for the best way to recruit and you will find over 200 million results. It seems everyone is an expert and knows better than you. Well sorry, that’s just not the case. Nobody knows your business better than you, but they may just have learnt some hard recruitment lessons that they are willing to help you avoid.
With 30 years managing, commissioning, owning and regulating care services across the UK, I have recruited 1000’s of staff. Along the way I have made mistakes in the rush to fill that vacancy. I hope these life lessons help you avoid the same.
Why am I recruiting?
There has never been a more difficult time to recruit quality
staff. Companies are faced with legal obligations, regulatory
requirements, best practice, Brexit, competition, financial restraints and much
However, it is also an ideal time to look at the efficiency and quality of your company. With care at home companies running at between 3-5 per cent profit margins, every penny counts. So, before you post your next job advert ask yourself:
Why are we doing things this way, are they needed at all? (Ritual)
If needed can tasks be automated, or processes improved? (Research)
Do I really need to replace the role or employ additional staff? (Rationale)
If at the end of this you still need to recruit staff, you should
know in detail the skills, knowledge and experience required to fill the
role. This will shape an honest advert and job description.
How can I be more efficient?
If you don’t have one already get an applicant tracking system. Whether you employ 1 person or a 1000, a good ATS will ensure you don’t miss the perfect applicant and help you comply with your legal responsibilities.
Good recruitment systems can revolutionise your company and this is the main reason we created novacare. Going digital allows automation, opening your office 24/7 to interested candidates, it helps recruit them faster, keeps in constant communication with them and can reduce your costs by up to 90 per cent.
Don’t be tempted to advertise across 100’s of job boards there are only a few that produce consistent results:
Adzuna – Replaced “Find a Job”
Google Jobs – Great for search engine returns
Gumtree – Links with Google Jobs
Indeed – This aggregates jobs from other job
Total Jobs & Jobsite – 20 million visits a
Quality not Quantity
If you want to find quality candidates who are genuinely interested in your company, then avoid CVs. Our system shows avoiding CVs reduces unwanted applications by 90 per cent. It allows you to compare applicants equitably, process them more quickly and stand a 10-fold better chance of them completing the recruitment process.
Never shortlist by phone. There is no substitute for non-verbal communication when interpreting applicants’ responses. Today nearly everyone has access to Skype, Face Time or WhatsApp.
When you are ready to interview in person, then having a second person present allows you to balance opinions of candidates. This also safeguards continuity if one interviewer is unable to complete all interviews, and brings greater observational skills as they do not have to ask questions.
Good Management Information
At any point in a recruitment process you should be able run a
live report which includes:
The number interested in the vacancy
The number of people who applied
Time taken in each recruitment stage
The number rejected
The number offered
The number recruited
The reason for rejection
The source of successful candidates e.g.
Detailed demographics of candidates
Live data allows you to quickly alter adverts, understand why job
offers are rejected, ensure budgets are spent wisely and that successful
candidates match the original skills, knowledge and experience required for the
Ultimately, there is no one size fits all when it comes to recruitment. However some key factors are universal and should be implemented or avoided to give the best chance of success. Take the time to learn from other people and you might just uncover the top talent you are looking for.
Despite taking extra steps to evaluate a job applicant, managers too often fail to choose the right candidate. How do you get it right?
Many recruiters know the importance of assessing a candidate beyond a polished resume and well-rehearsed interview. Yet, despite taking extra steps to evaluate a job applicant, managers too often fail to choose the right candidate. In a 2016 CareerBuilder study, 75 per cent of employers interviewed said they hired the wrong person, costing companies an average of $17,000.
The issue? Recruiters were not interviewing for the actual skills candidates needed to thrive in their new role. During the hiring process, recruiters were relying too much on resumes, misidentifying the skills needed to succeed, or asking the wrong questions. Here’s how recruiters can adjust their approach to interviewing candidates to lead to better hires and improve talent retention.
Identify the non-negotiable skills for each position
Recruiters should begin with a basic understanding of the non-negotiable skills the new hire needs to succeed. Get the entire team involved in narrowing down the essential skills a new hire should possess to help the team to perform better. Walk through a typical work day and identify the inefficiencies or bottlenecks that could be improved by a new hire.
With this baseline in mind, recruiters set up a case-study scenario or Talent Trial that allows the candidate to showcase their abilities in specific scenarios. For example, Pro R.E.A. Staffing used Vervoe’s “knockout” questionnaire to test candidates on the non-negotiable job requirements. This questionnaire replaced the phone screen, and successful candidates were automatically invited to complete a skills-based Talent Trial containing behavioral questions, tasks in Excel, and writing exercises.
The result? Hiring managers at Pro R.E.A. noticed big differences between candidates’ claims of their skills and their actual skill level. They were able to test skills they previously couldn’t discern, save time, and only progress with candidates who could perform the core skills needed to succeed.
Highlight the soft skills needed to advance in the company
Some employers wait until the first day on the job to discuss company culture with new hires. Instead, recruiters should start this conversation during the hiring process by highlighting the skills needed for the candidate to advance within the company. Successful CEOs emphasize the importance of soft skills – things like leadership and teamwork. But, all too often, new hires disappoint because they lacked the soft skills needed to adapt to their new team, not necessarily the skills to perform the job.
When we talk about “culture fit,” that can mistakenly translate into hiring someone whose background – education, skills, or network – is similar to the existing team. This stifles innovation and diversity. Instead, recruiters should seek out soft skills that will diversify the team, such as hiring someone who values clarity and structure to balance out the visionary but impulsive senior manager.
AI-powered ranking and skills tests are just two important ways to remove bias from the hiring process. Vervoe’s platform has shown impressive stats in hiring for diverse teams: companies who switched to our AI tool and skills assessments saw a 62% increase in female candidates. Vervoe’s library of content can also help hiring managers seek out those critical soft skills that predict long-term success. These validated psychometric assessments are key to assessing “culture fit” in isolation from a candidate’s resume.
Look out for common red flags
There are some red flags that many recruiters miss during the interview stage that can come back to haunt them. For example, referral hires often get a carte blanche during the interview process. If a candidate name-drops during the interview, do not be seduced by his connections if he cannot back it up with examples of genuine relationship building and past collaboration.
Learning from our past hiring mistakes at Vervoe, we created a character assessment so we can avoid making these mistakes in the future. Many of the things we look for – curiosity, grit, collaboration, resourcefulness, tenacity, dexterity – are important in every role at the company. By implementing a character assessment at the top of our hiring process, we screen candidates to between five and ten percent of applicants, who then progress to the next level. An applicant may be a coding magician, but if they won’t be happy at Vervoe, we’re not interested in wasting their time.
This article was written by Emily Heaslip and was originally published on vervoe.
Here are six pitfalls to avoid in order to create a better recruitment process for all involved.
Creating a better candidate experience seems simple enough and creating an experience that continues to improve is even better. Recruiters are often under tremendous pressure to recruit top candidates from hiring managers, organisational objectives, and the competitive landscape. Below we discuss six pitfalls recruiters can avoid to create a better recruitment process for all involved.
1. Posting Vague Job Descriptions
Posting a generic job position can ensure that a large pool of candidates applies. What it doesn’t ensure is that the candidates’ skill sets will accurately align with the functions of the position. A vague job description is a problem for both the hiring manager and candidate, as it effectively means that either someone’s time is wasted during screening and interviews, or a candidate will be hired for a position that doesn’t match their skills.
2. Not Engaging Hiring Managers/Operations Team Leaders
There are functions of a human resources department that need to be sealed off from the rest of the company. For instance, compensation, firing, promotion, etc. However, recruitment shouldn’t be as confidential. Recruiters should engage with hiring managers and operations leaders to build job descriptions and create recruitment processes that create an optimal candidate experience and hire the best talent available.
3. Creating a Time-Consuming Application Process
An extensive application process is perceived as a strategy for recruiting only the most serious and interested candidates. Is it though? Front loading information gathering into the online application process will get you just that – people who are good at sitting at the computer and applying for jobs. What it doesn’t confirm is if the human behind that computer is the person best suited for the position you’re filling.
4.Having an unprepared interviewer
An unprepared interviewer can send a “disturbing signal” to the candidate, leaving them turned off by the experience and the brand. Recruiters should conduct prep meetings, provide sample questions, and confirm interviewers are aware of the entire process and desired results before an interview is conducted.
5. Failing to Stay in Contact for Future Opportunities
Failing to engage a quality candidate who was not given an offer is an enormous waste of resources. Sometimes great candidates don’t receive offers simply because there was a better-suited candidate for the position. If there is mutual interest, there should be a process in place to remain in contact with them for either future opportunities or current openings they may fit into.
6. Not Soliciting Candidate Feedback
There is always room for improvement. Giving candidates an opportunity to provide feedback on the recruitment process gives recruiters some valuable insights which could help improve the process you currently have in place.
When things get bad at work do you find a way to fix it or consider a career move?
The bad days are becoming more frequent, the work is no longer challenging and your procurement career seems to be floundering. The question arises: what must you do to kick your work life into action? If you have a general feeling of being undervalued or not being fairly recognised for your achievements, now is the time to take stock. Work takes up at least 40 hours of your week. Life’s too short to be miserable, this is decision time.
It is unlikely that your current situation will improve much unless there is a radical change in management or strategy. The options are:
Move into a new role at your current employer or
Move on to a different employer in a similar or different role
Assuming that procurement is still the place you want to be, there are some steps you need to take whether you plan to stay with your current employer in another role or move on to new adventures.
Do a personal gap analysis
Take a deep, introspective look into yourself. The aim is to identify the knowledge gaps between the skills you need for your chosen direction and those that you currently have. What changes should you begin making to prepare yourself for the kind of job you want? As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Be realistic about your current capabilities. Then go and fill the gaps.
Consider further education
There’s no doubt that further education and continued professional development play a part in opening up opportunities. The reality is that most the attractive roles require some tertiary education or certification, especially in a tight job market. If you are lagging in this area it may be an opportune time to upgrade. If your current employer can subsidise your work-related studies, take advantage. No funds? There are lots of free training available, there’s no excuse. What about a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)?
Learn the new skills
There are roles that didn’t exist ten years ago and those are where experience is in short supply. The application of I.T. technologies to procurement problems is growing fast: consider data analysis and warehousing, supplier relationship management (SRM), and procure-to-pay (P2P). Also, both the public and private sectors struggle with issues of fraud, corruption and conflict of interest. Companies need people who can exercise constant vigilance over supplier risk, governance and contract compliance.
Sustainability issues are placing new demands on procurement leaders and their teams. “Green” procurement is a growth niche where there is a limited number of experienced applicants and pressure is building on companies to limit their negative impact on the environment. Focusing on fields that concern you (and the consumer) and those that play to your strengths will deliver the most work satisfaction.
Get a grip on the numbers
Whatever direction you choose, advanced analytical abilities are becoming mandatory. An in-depth understanding of financial ratios and the triple bottom line can give you the edge over others competing for similar roles. If you don’t know what macros or what a cash flow crisis is, now is the time to find out. If your current company offers in-house courses that can enhance your computer skills, sign up.
Influence and persuasion
A survey conducted recently by Accenture amongst global CPOs noted that traditional areas of knowledge and experience are less important to success than the ability to develop and sustain high quality internal and external relationships. Stakeholders can influence your project’s success or failure. Good stakeholder management just means being able to win support from any and all interested and affected parties such as end-users, subject matter experts and key suppliers.
Attitude is important, that much is clear. It seems behaviour and demeanour can impact on career progression as much as technical know-how. Always do what you promise to do. To paraphrase J.F.Kennedy, don’t think about what your stakeholders can do for you, think what you could do for them.
Communicate your successes
Keep an on-going record of what you have done well, e.g. reported cost savings, accolades you have been given, and positive feedback received from internal customers. This information can be used to enhance your CV. Don’t be shy to share your successes; it’s a good confidence booster.
Moving on to another employer or launching yourself as a consultant or contractor may be a choice, or it may be thrust upon you. Protecting yourself fully from downsizing and “restructuring of the workforce” is pretty much impossible. Don’t despair. Review your achievements to date, fire up your CV and take yourself to the market. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to move forwards.
The best a person can do to rise above the mainstream is to have a good attitude, stay relevant, keep up with trends, communicate well and keep the networks alive. Sometimes the current environment is not going to deliver the options you need. Then it is time to move on.
Want procurement teams to attract the best talent? Show us your stuff!
According to The Deloitte Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2017, 87 per cent of the respondents agree that talent is the single greatest factor in driving procurement performance. But the rates of new hires and recent graduates pursuing a career in procurement is decreasing.
That translates into a problem for the future of this function – a talent gap in procurement. But why?
Procurement is More than Cost Savings and Compliance
There are several reasons we can speculate as to why the workforce is pursuing careers outside of procurement, but in my opinion the overarching problem is that procurement is not seen as a ‘sexy’ career path. In the world of tech startups, innovative products, self-made social media sensations, and more, the idea of focusing on corporate cost-savings and spend compliance just doesn’t appeal – especially to the up-and-coming millennial workforce.
But the truth is, procurement is more than policing the organisation and saving company money. It’s about building relationships with internal stakeholders and external suppliers, drawing strategic insights from data to help others and using unique talent to solve problems.
Confession time: I’m also a millennial, and I think we have an opportunity here to fill the talent gap with eager new hires by showing what the new world of procurement is all about.
Show Us Your Stuff, Procurement
As employers and providers in the world of procurement, it’s up to us to make procurement a strategic and desirable field to enter. Hiding in the back office has made many of us modest, but it’s time for us to show off a bit to demonstrate the true strategic value procurement brings to the party. In reading The Deloitte Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2017, there were clear trends on how CPOs feel about the state of procurement, which led me to think about how we can apply those insights to address the talent gap.
Here are 5 ways to bring procurement careers into the modern world…
1.Create a digital culture
I’ll admit, I stole this one right from Deloitte’s recommendations because it’s spot on. 75 per cent of the survey respondents agreed – “procurement’s role in delivering digital strategy will increase in the future and are also clear that technology will impact all procurement processes to some degree.” And you know who grew up with technology from day 1 and is perfect for navigating a digital procurement world? You guessed it – millennials. Demonstrate to this up-and-coming workforce that your procurement department is committed to leveraging technology to automate and outsource the repetitive tasks, expedite the pace of business and enable them to focus on strategic initiatives. Invest in digital procurement today and think about how emerging technologies like AI, machine learning and robotics influence the procurement world. And best yet – involve your entry level procurement team members in these discussions. Give them the opportunity to shape and influence the path of technology at your organisation and make recommendations on your digital future.
2. Invest in employee development
According to the survey, 60 per cent of CPOs do not believe their teams have the skills to deliver their procurement strategy, yet investment in on-going training and employee development remains low. Demonstrate to your current staff and those entering the workforce that you recognise that people are key to procurement success and invest in their future with procurement and non-procurement training programs.
3. Dial-in on data
Data is the alpha and omega of the future and 60 per cent of the Deloitte survey respondents regard analytics as the most impactful technology for the function over the coming two years. So, this is a two-part recommendation: 1) Make sure to capture 100 per cent of your financial data, and 2) Properly train current and future procurement professionals on data analysis. Analytics and technologies like AI and machine learning are only as good as the data that feeds them, so it’s imperative to build a complete data set for your employees to leverage. Gartner also says that data science and analytical skills are required in procurement to leverage a future with AI. Many professionals enter procurement to be hands-on in solving problems across the business – this could be saving money; negotiating better contracts; optimising the supplier base; helping other departments create and track budgets; reducing risk; finding funds to support new product innovation or growth, etc. Give these professionals reliable data and training to properly analyse it to extract actionable insights so they can act quickly and effectively on strategic initiatives.
4. Provide opportunities to influence innovation
Long gone are the days when procurement meant squeezing every penny out of suppliers and business partners. Now it’s about building strategic partnerships that can take your business to the next level and procurement is at the forefront of that effort. Young procurement professionals are going to be excited and eager to make their mark on something – let them help lead the charge in sourcing and nurturing relationships with key suppliers. Product innovation comes not only from finding the money to explore and test but also from finding the right partners that bring you the elements you need to build that innovation. Create collaboration between your procurement and product departments, as well as other departments for that matter, so that procurement becomes a true business partner and is actively involved in core business functions.
5. Build rapport with internal stakeholders
Another reason that procurement might not be seen as ‘sexy’ is the simple fact that people in other functions just don’t know what exactly it is that they do. If you’re a procurement leader, be a champion for your team. Help others understand what procurement truly is and communicate and celebrate your wins. Also look for opportunities for collaboration between your team and other business functions. Become an advisor during critical times like budget planning and showcase the talent you have in your team. When budgets remain flat, offer up procurement expertise to help other departments produce cost savings and new money from their existing spending habits. As the Deloitte survey eloquently says, “Procurement professionals should challenge themselves to understand functional stakeholders in the same way they do their suppliers.”
At the end of the day, many people are motivated by the idea of being a hero at work. What profession enables employees to swoop in and save the day better than procurement? There are not many. With the required people skills, analytical approach and desire to focus energy internally and externally, the procurement profession is a truly unique career path that doesn’t receive the credit it deserves. Look on to the future of procurement at your organisation and build the culture that attracts your next generation of hires.
Job satisfaction comes down to three things: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Does this explain why millennials are dominating in the tech industry?
Numerous industries have been accused of many different types of hiring bias and flawed hiring policy.
The service industry, for example, has long been subject to questions about its lack of affirmative action in this area based on the demographic of candidates that tend to be allocated these roles. The same applies even within typically diverse workforces.
Hiring bias at its worst
Few sectors have faced the intense scrutiny aimed at the tech world in recent years, owing to its pervasive reputation for hiring vastly disproportionate percentages of younger males.
A quick Google search of “industry hiring bias” results in almost an entire first page of links to think pieces about Silicon Valley.
There are countless arguments to be made on the subject, many of which rightly focus on the urgency of addressing this gender imbalance. One popular proposal for tapping into the vast, and shamefully underused, female talent pool suggests funding schools to better promote careers for women in computer science.
But if the tech industry is also heavily skewed towards youth, how long would those careers remain satisfying for?
Job satisfaction at the biggest tech firms
This latter question prompted a recent research project by online compensation and benefits analyst Payscale. By gathering data from almost 35,000 workers across 17 of the biggest tech firms in the world – including eBay, Google, Cisco, Facebook, Samsung, Intel, Apple and Microsoft – researchers attempted to gain an overview of how employees’ job satisfaction levels mapped on to various metrics such as median age, early and mid-career pay levels, and total years of industry experience.
When transposed as a series of infographics, the data seems to highlight some marked trends across the board: in particular, workforces with higher average ages in the study group (notably IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Samsung) were among the lowest-scoring in terms of overall job satisfaction.
Moreover, many of the same names also placed highly in terms of their employees’ length of tenure with the company and total years of industry experience, while coming in amongst the lower rankings for both early- and mid-career median pay levels. Taken at face value, this immediately presents various possible scenarios.
One natural observation would be that the ‘more satisfied’ workers were often among those being paid the most relative to their experience, which, let’s face it, doesn’t seem much of a hot take.
What appears to be a fairly direct inverse correlation between median age and reported job satisfaction is potentially more interesting, but the question remains as to whether this phenomenon is in any way unique to the tech industry. After all, there’s every chance that the methodology of the study simply benefits companies who have a high turnover of younger, less experienced workers, whose expectations and needs are typically less complex at such an early career stage.
Are millennials best-suited to tech jobs?
When it comes specifically to tech roles, and the fact that they’re so commonly filled by younger-than-average staff (the national median age for a US worker is 42; at Facebook, it’s just 29), many people don’t think it’s quite that simple.
The much-quoted author, speaker and ‘business guru’ Daniel Pink, responsible for such widely read titles as Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, might be chief among them. Pink’s theories around what ultimately leads to lasting job satisfaction focus on the triumvirate of ‘autonomy, mastery and purpose’. In other words, a sense of independence, a feeling of capability, and a genuine motivation to keep plugging away.
Millennials entering the tech industry may be particularly well-placed to tick all three of those key boxes because of, not in spite of, their age. Pink notes that, having grown up in an environment of always-on connectivity that didn’t fully exist 20 years ago, millennials are finding it much easier to adapt as the internet rapidly erodes the decades-old concept of a standard office-based work week.
He also points out that today’s all-pervasive digital culture means new graduates no longer seek to separate their work and social lives to nearly the same extent as previous generations did. As a result, the boundary between professional performance and success in other areas of millennials’ lives is arguably less clearly defined; this in turn becomes an obvious source of general motivation that perfectly suits the thrust and structure of many cutting-edge tech firms.
Combatting age discrimination
The extent to which these sorts of theories hold water is very much up for debate. What we do know is that the debate is heating up: last year, Bloomberg reported that in just eight short years, 226 complaints pertaining to age discrimination had been registered against the top 150 Silicon Valley firms.
While tech employers continue to perform well in global Best Employer lists, the conversation will certainly benefit from some longer-term data as we start to develop a clearer picture of career movement across the wider industry in the coming years.