In uncertain economic times, more and more ambitious professionals are turning to careers in supply chain and procurement. Rather than fearing an unpredictable and precarious career path, professionals working in these sectors are increasingly seen as integral to the success of a business and often play a vital role in Board decisions.
So, if you’re hoping to launch a career in this exciting sector or if you’re looking for a new opportunity, you’ll need to demonstrate the right knowledge and attributes. From resilience to collaboration, we identify the top skills that recruiters look for in supply chain and procurement professionals.
Procurement and supply chain professionals have a lot on their plates when it comes to developing business strategies. They must protect the company from risk and ensure an excellent quality of product or service - all while maximizing the bottom line. The ability to devise and manage long-term business plans while taking good care of everyday tasks is vital. It’s a good idea to show examples of roles or situations where you have used your strategic thinking well in interviews, especially when you can prove there have been tangible improvements to the business as a result.
Anyone working in this sector will tell you that a resilient and tenacious approach is vital. Projects are often highly complex and situations can change in a second, so you must be able to show you are adaptable and can think on your feet. There’s seldom time for procrastination and you may have multiple parties expecting answers or solutions yesterday. Recruiters will want to see that you are able to stand your ground and be tough when the situation calls for it.
Procurement and supply chain is all about being solution-focused so it’s important to confront obstacles and new challenges with a creative approach. Rather than arriving at a situation with a closed mindset or with a negative attitude, a creative outlook helps you, and your co-workers identify opportunities and see past any perceived problems or limitations.
Even if you score off the chart for technical know-how, you’re not likely to succeed in this face-paced sector without good collaboration skills. Many roles require communicating effectively and credibly with a wide range of seniorities, both within the organization and externally. By taking a collaborative approach, you can help ensure that all parties achieve their often disparate goals and that everyone gets the best possible outcome. Collaboration is something you can learn to be good at, but it helps if you have a creative mindset and that you genuinely enjoy being part of a team, working towards a shared goal. The ability to understand the motivations of others is key, so if you have an empathetic nature then be sure to demonstrate this in the selection process.
An ability to analyze complex information
Even if you’re the most collaborative and creative person in your business, you won’t get very far if you don’t have a good head for figures and an excellent eye for detail. The most successful supply chain and procurement professionals are those that can drive down costs and find savings in the most unexpected places. This requires being able to breakdown complex data and see opportunities in even the most impenetrable spreadsheets or systems. An aptitude for technology is also very helpful as is a willingness to adopt new systems and ways of working, where necessary.
Procurement and supply chain professionals are required to manage a large number of external and internal relationships, so the ability to negotiate effectively in a diplomatic and patient manner is very important. Naturally, your goal will always be to achieve the best possible outcome for your business, but leaving a trail of unhappy suppliers or team members in your wake is not the way to go. Always remain calm and make sure people feel listened to while ensuring that your case is understood and your standpoint appreciated.
It sounds like an obvious inclusion but if you lack professionalism in your actions or attitude you won’t get very far. Always consider the effect of your behavior and the language that you use. And remember that mood can be misinterpreted in email communications. Try to take a step back from time to time and review your levels of professionalism. We may think that we come across as helpful and approachable but it’s best to make sure.
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