A goal for many people is progressing their careers – and procurement professionals have quite the lengthy ladder to climb. But it might be as simple as craving a change, or get ahead, unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix – it takes a lot of time and effort to progress. But with these tips, compiled by our expert procurement professionals, you can work hard to get to the top.
#1 – Get yourself a mentor
The best way to advance your procurement career is by getting a mentor – preferably somebody who’s managed to work their way into a senior position. Have this experienced hand guide you on how to engage with senior stakeholders, how they managed to convince people within the business of the value of procurement and to give you any tips on how they managed to get to their position in the organisation.
You might be wondering how to get this person to agree to assist you in the first place. In our experience, flattery often works well! Explain to your chosen senior figure that you’re interested in learning from them and that you feel their considerable expertise and experience will help you develop further. Most will offer to help teach you what you’d like to know, but don’t be disheartened if they don’t – there’s plenty of other people you can learn from.
#2 – Study for a CIPS qualification or do a MOOC
A great way to further your career is to study a CIPS qualification. They’ll help you earn skills to accelerate your career in the right direction.
Their courses cover everything from entry-level studies, all the way up to professional diplomas – which are synonymous with some of the most experienced procurement people.
MOOCs or massive open online courses are another great way to strengthen your skillset. They’ve grown increasingly popular over the last five years or so and they offer you an opportunity to earn new skills – for free – with a large group of people.
#3 – Go out and network
Consider booking yourself onto events such as eWorld, one of the largest procurement and supply chain professional events in the country. Attending conferences like eWorld will give you the opportunity to learn from like-minded professionals and exchange procurement-related ideas.
You’ll also get the chance to network in dedicated sessions, allowing you the chance to build up a network of contacts should you want to explore opportunities at other organisations at a later date.
It’s also a good chance to talk to and learn from people with a range of different experiences and learn about the latest techniques, technologies and news around procurement and supply chain management.
#4 – Use LinkedIn as your promotional platform
Take cues from digital marketing and use LinkedIn to grow your own personal brand. Wax Digital’s Content Marketing Manager Jon Davis has some general advice:
- Clean up your act – figure out what’s already on the internet about you. Any unsavoury posts or unflattering photos? Try to clear up as much as you can. You could consider using the initial of your middle name as part of your online professional brand.
- Set up a LinkedIn profile – set up a LinkedIn account, complete with all your experiences. Ensure all your previous job history is filled out and a short summary at top of your page, explaining your expertise, interests and aspirations
- Think about who you want to reach – start thinking about your target audience. What interests them and what would you like them to take away from your LinkedIn profile?
- Start engaging with other people – use the hashtags feature within LinkedIn to expand your reach and engage with other posts on LinkedIn. It’s an opportunity to add your voice – when necessary – to a range of appropriate topics.
- Produce engaging written content – producing your own content is a sure-fire way of expanding your influence on LinkedIn. Think of subjects your readers would be interested in and don’t use it as an opportunity to rant about somebody in your organisation. Keep all your content free of personal attacks on other people, professional and engaging.
- Be yourself – Lots of people try to be someone different on LinkedIn in order to grow their profile, but more than often, authenticity cuts through an extremely crowded platform. Be yourself, stick to your strengths and you’ll see your profile gradually grow.
#5 – Improve your skillset
Soft skills are a key part of any procurement role – and any other job for that matter – so spend time honing your soft skills. This includes working on:
- Your communication skills
- Self-motivation abilities
- Problem-solving skills
- Time management
- Ability to work under pressure
- Negotiation and conflict resolution
#6 – Be ambitious
Harbouring ambition is key to advancing your procurement career, according to business development director Daniel Ball. He says:
“Having an ambitious outlook is paramount to advancing your procurement career. Be prepared to take risks, as sometimes, taking a chance is instrumental to being noticed.
“Also, try and be imaginative and creative. If there’s a problem at work that requires a creative solution, don’t be afraid to speak up and suggest your point of view. Accept that sometimes, senior management might not agree with you, but a willingness to continue suggesting ideas demonstrates your worth to your organisation.”
Ambition is long associated with being ruthless – but that doesn’t have to be the case. Loyalty, to a person, or to a business is an underrated characteristic and you should certainly weigh up sticking in a job if your career prospects are good. But if it becomes clear that your path to progression becomes limited, or worse, stifled – don’t hesitate to express this to your manager. And if you’re not satisfied with their response – seek alternative employment.
#7 – Understand the role procurement plays in the rest of your organisation
A lot of people work in procurement but don’t really think about its impact on the wider business. Gita Andrijauskaite, our procurement consultant, who has considerable expertise and experience working as a procurement manager suggests adjusting your mentality to understand this. She said:
“Being resource-conscious and aware of your role in your organisation goes a long way to getting to progressing your procurement career.
“Spend time understanding your role in your business. Specifically, what it is you do and how that impacts the wider business and the commercial implications.”
Gita adds: “By thinking this way, you’ll be able to understand stakeholder challenges and issues and understand that procurement, while an important function, ultimately exists to service the wider business.”
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