Procurement – A Market Overview

Over the past 3 months, we have seen a significant shift in the employment market. After 5 years of stagnation, employment is now at a peak and the impact this is having on recruitment and retention is significant. To corroborate the views of the market, we spent the month of June speaking to Procurement Leaders across the South on the topics of talent attraction, retention and Procurement’s input into business  strategy.


Talent Attraction

It’s fair to say that finding high calibre, talented people in the Procurement world continues to be challenging.  So why is this? And what tactics are being employed to gain successful outcomes?

Across the South East and South Coast, location was seen as the greatest single inhibiting factor in attracting talented staff. Whilst these areas can be attractive to live in, this choice of location can come at a price; the often lauded but little understood ‘work/life balance’. Where salary or package were mentioned, competition with London commutes and salary inflation were cited as reasons for making the recruitment process challenging.

The changing nature of Procurement and its maturing as a function within some businesses, with a shift from cost reduction to value delivery, was seen as a positive attraction message. These less traditional activities meant that different recruitment channels needed to be used, including social media. To find this broader skill set, one that was more than simply category management, necessitated deeper engagement with recruitment partners, but also a better understanding of job titles and the key tasks. This made for a more dynamic and informal process.

It was also noted that Procurement’s top talent wanted to know how seriously the business viewed Procurement. Where buy-in was strong, this was seen as a strong ‘go to market’tool. Others also evidenced how their organisations were using Graduate Schemes as a means of growing and developing their own internal talent pipeline.



Professional development was top of everyone’s agenda when it came to retaining great people. Many organisations support CIPS as a professional qualification, both for the procurement team and also for other strategic functions that have input into procurement. This raised the profile of the team and acted as a talent pipeline.

Talent mobility around a business was seen as increasingly important where the organisation was either multi-divisional or multi-sited. One organisation had even created a procurement leaders network where this migration of talent was actively encouraged.

Finding interesting and challenging work was seen by all as a key area to build engagement, not only making the job more interesting, but enabling people to learn new skills. That said, where continued professional development was not forthcoming, some went as far as to say that Procurement ran the risk of becoming a ‘backward pool of resources’, both inhibiting the individual’s value internally, and also on the external market.

It was agreed that where a team was allowed and encouraged to think beyond the day job, that broader business acumen was gained. Giving people realistic goals for promotion also rated highly as a retention tool, as did regular salary reviews and appraisals.


Board level representation

Very few organisations reported that Procurement sat on the board. Whilst in many cases the function was operating strategically and as a business enabler, often the perception was that of a support discipline. However, for one leader this highlighted the need for balance between escalating Procurement’s profile and delivery.

Where supply chains sat at the centre of the business, board level representation was more common. However increased hierarchical visibility often came as a consequence of ‘procurement being the beneficiaries of disaster’, as one person put it. Where the function was not being continually asked to justify its existence, procurement was found to be adding value in a number of different of ways.

A personal and tailored procurement  recruitment approach, an extensive and exclusive network of qualified procurement professionals and job opportunities, rewarding loyalty and operating locally across Hampshire, Dorset, Sussex, Middlesex, Wiltshire, Berkshire and Surrey  – these are the reasons why people choose to work with Procurement Heads – to join our world visit

About the Author

Helen Harling

Office and Marketing Manager for both Procurement Heads and sister brand HR Heads. Graduating with a marketing degree, Helen has continued her passion by leading our marketing function forward. You will see her blogging, tweeting, posting, videoing about Procurement Heads. You can see this on our LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram page.

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