If you’re looking for a role in procurement and contract management, there are certain essential skills and qualifications you need to succeed that will not only help you not only stand out to employers but also thrive in your future career.
Some of these are human skills, or “soft skills”, that employers are actively looking for in candidates, while others are more specific procurement qualifications that will help you advance your career.
Let’s start with the essential skills. By knowing where you need to upskill and taking steps to close the gaps, you can be on the front foot from the minute you hit send on your application.
In their Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2021, the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Hays Recruitment revealed the top in-demand skills for employers in the industry.
Here are the most important skills you need to succeed in procurement:
Internal stakeholder management
The report reveals 55% of recruiters are looking for candidates with skills in managing internal stakeholders. And you only need to look at a couple of job ads to see that employers will favour applicants who prove they can build rapport and maintain stakeholder relationships.
Over half of hiring managers (51%) are specifically looking for skills in communication. So what does that mean?
Having brilliant communication skills isn’t about being able to stand up in front of a room and present effortlessly, or being able to write the perfectly worded email – though these are obviously great skills to have.
Job ads for procurement ask for applicants to be able to communicate confidently in a clear and concise manner. More than this, communication skills mean being able to get your message across in a way that engages your audience and inspires action. If you can communicate skilfully, you will be able to build your network, influence others and get things done as a team.
Half of recruiters are looking for influencing skills, and it’s no wonder when you consider that the ability to influence others is integral to the success of procurement professionals.
Influencing stakeholders is one of the most important “soft skills” of procurement, while also being a critical leadership skill. So, if you want to take your career up a notch, look at sharpening your influencing skills.
Supplier relationship management
Supplier relationship management (SRM) is a primary focus in procurement, with its ability to deliver big savings and big opportunities for companies. That’s why 49% of recruiters are specifically looking for skills in supplier relationship management for professional roles and 53% for managerial roles.
if you’re going to get ahead in your career, negotiation is a skill you need to flex and sharpen. More than half of recruiters (55%) are looking for skills in negotiation for managerial roles, and 52% seek these skills for professional roles.
But there’s a common misconception that negotiation is about playing hardball or doing everything you can to win. As Chris Voss, a former kidnapping investigator for the FBI, explains in his book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It, negotiation is about listening to the other party, understanding their goals and position, and working to achieve outcomes that you are both happy with.
In other words, good negotiation skills are really good communication skills.
Good procurement leaders are in high demand, with three in four hiring managers (74%) seeking candidates with leadership capabilities for advanced professional roles.
As your career advances, employers want to know if you have the skills to contribute to the company and the team as a leader. In addition, 46% are looking for candidates to be able to raise the profile of procurement within the organisation.
While it’s not on the list of surveyed employers in the CIPS/Hays report, it’s clear from job ads that personal resilience is a plus. Being able to manage setbacks, pressure and hurdles are essential for your future career. Be prepared to show employers that you have the resilience to overcome obstacles and use your experiences to bounce forward.
If you’re just getting started in procurement and contracting, what is the entry level qualification you need?
In Australia, you’re looking at a nationally recognised qualification such as PSP40616 Certificate IV in Procurement & Contracting.
Don’t underestimate how much ongoing learning can put you ahead. Many employers are looking for evidence of the required knowledge and skills, so they want to see what training you have done, qualifications you have achieved or even what you are currently studying.
Pursuing further study shows you are motivated to learn and that you invest in yourself while also giving you new knowledge and skills that benefit your employer and save them time or money.
It’s time to skill up
Now you know what skills and qualifications are needed to succeed, take some time to map out your current skills against the skills employers look for.
Where are the gaps?
Now is the time to invest in yourself to close these gaps, get the edge on your competition, and turbocharge your procurement and contracting career.