Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Negotiating a job offer - if you are making the offer

Once again, the Jobs in Procurement team is not about to set about teaching its readers anything at all about negotiation.  We are going to put forward our thoughts on making an offer of employment to a candidate that you really want to hire - our aim being to maximise the chance of your offer being accepted by that candidate.

From the earliest stage of the recruitment process, it is important that you have a clear understanding of the candidate's current remuneration package, including details of bonus and the date at which their next pay review is going to take place (and its likely outcome).  This is information that your chosen Recruiter should help you with as part of their service.

Throughout the recruitment process your Recruiter, yourself and your HR colleagues should spend some time managing the expectations of the candidate(s) that you interview.  With their current remuneration in mind and an understanding of where the role that you are interviewing for fits into your salary bands etc., make sure that the candidate has in her mind that your offer is going to be 'something around €XX.'  The very detailed discussion comes later, but sowing the seed from an early stage of the process is important.

When it comes to making the actual offer to a candidate, the choice of whether to do that directly or via your Recriter is for you to make.  Our advice? Whichever you feel most comfortable with.  Some Recruiters will insist that they are best placed to broker the offer.  In some cases that may be true but, if you feel strongly that you want to make the offer to the candidate, go ahead.

Preface the offer with some warm words: We are delighted to have found you... We think you will do a great job and have an excellent future with our organisation... that type of thing.

Set out the offer in detail and be sure to include every element that has value: base salary, bonus, car allowance, relocation, share schemes, staff restaurant, product allowance, holidays, flexible benefits, pension scheme, expat allowances, joining bonus, healthcare costs, etc.  Be sure to include when the salary is up for review too.

It is recommended that you make as close to your absolute best offer as you can first time.  This is not the time for a multiple round negotiation process: ideally the offer will be as good as the candidate is expecting and that can be pointed out: 'We talked about a base salary of €85k being the level that would make this role attractive to you, well I am pleased to say that the offer we are making to you is actually €87k.'

Once the offer is on the table, its OK to make it time bound.  Whilst it is acceptable that the candidate needs some time to think it over and talk with her family about it, a long delay in making a decision at this stage is not OK - over one weekend is the maximum that we can recommend.

As you are involved in the recruitment of a Procurement professional, expect them to come back with a small negotiation point, or at least a point of clarification.  Experience tells us that this is likely to be for something small if the process has been handled correctly from the outset.

Once the offer is verbally accepted, get the written contracts exchanged quickly and agree a start date with the new member of your team.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Negotiating a job offer - if you are the candidate

The Jobs in Procurement team is not about to launch into any attempt to tell its audience of procurement professionals how to negotiate.  Its your job and there is not a lot that we can tell you about general negotiation skills.  In this short post, we do offer some advice to the candidate side of the recruitment process on negotiating the salary etc. offered with a new job.  Next time we will offer up some advice to the employer side of the process.


First up, remember that you are likely negotiating with your (future) boss and potential colleagues.  It is important that you strike the appropriate balance between demonstrating that, as a procurement professional, you are a competent and effective negotiator and going so far that these important relationships are damaged or the offer is withdrawn.

If you are working with a Recruiter, work with them on this part of the process too.  Take their input and use them as a third party conduit to exchange information with the new organisation.

As with any negotiation, there is background research needed - especially if taking the job results in any significant change in circumstance for you and your family.  Be sure that you clearly understand the implications and mechanisms involved in: relocation (e.g. schooling, tax status, residency and work permits, electrical appliance compatibility etc.), bonuses, company car schemes, shares or share schemes, pension scheme, health insurance, product allowance etc.  Draw up your own checklist and satisfy yourself that you have a good understanding of the situation.

Be honest about what you have now.  It is never good to start a relationship with a new employer with any dishonesty.  Do make sure that your current remuneration is properly calculated and communicated to the people that need to know.

The aim of making a career move is, of course, to improve your current situation in some way.  Whilst it is very unlikely that money is the only motivation to make a move, it is - as all parties to the process know - an important factor.

Taking into account any differences in costs of living associated with the move and if the job is a promotion along the lines of natural career progression, it is usual in the market today that a move be accompanied with an increase in overall remuneration of something of the order of 7 - 12%.

Sometime in the interview process it is likely that you are asked 'What are you looking for in salary terms?'  Answering this with a number is, we think, a mistake.  An answer something like: 'Money isn't at the top of my list of priorites to make this move but, as you specifically asked, I have in mind an increase of something in the range of 12% versus my current package.  I think this fairly reflects the benefits I will bring to the organisation and offers me an incentive to make the move.'

Once an offer is extended to you by the new employer, there is a chance to negotiate it.  The Jobs in Procurement team recommends that there is just one round of any such negotiation: you go back (through your Recruiter) with a justified (e.g. if you are going to walk away from a 5k bonus by leaving before the year end, its OK to use that as a negotiating point; if you are walking away from a company car, that is too) counter offer to ask for a little more.  Make it clear that this is your final request and that you aren't then going to come up with other reasons to ask for more and also make it clear that you are ready to accept if your condition is met.

Once the offer is acceptable, accept it enthusiastically and make it very clear to all concerned that you are excited about the new role and are looking forward to joining the new team at the earliest opportunity.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The three questions that interview process boils down to from the candidate side

Procurement job interviews, in the experience of the Jobs in Procurement team, are very interactive. Based on our discussions with candidates at different stages of the recruitment process, we believe that theses three questions are at the core of the candidate’s decision making process.

Often these questions aren't asked directly by the candidate, but they are the questions that the need to be answered positively for the candidate to accept the job.

1. Does this job offer me a good career development move right now? Is this job sufficiently larger / broader than my current job that it will keep me engaged, enable me to develop new skills and add valuable experience to my profile? In addition, do I have the necessary skills and experience to deliver impressive results?

2. Can I see myself fitting in with this organisation and these people?
If the people that I have met in the interview process are typical future colleagues, could I work with them? Could I work well for and learn from my new boss?

3. Is there the potential for me to develop a career in the organisation and is training & development on the agenda? If I perform well for a couple of years in this role, what could be next? Are there examples of people that joined in similar roles progressing in broadly the direction I see my career heading?

As an interviewer, you have the opportunity to heavily influence the decision that potential candidates make about accepting a job offer from your organisation. If a particular candidate scores well on your assessments, the Jobs in Procurement team recommends that you make sure that the candidate leaves the interview with enough information to make positive judgements on these three questions.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The three questions that the interview process boils down to

There are, in the opinion of the Jobs in Procurement team, three questions that capture the whole interview process. In this post, we consider these three important interview questions from the perspective of the interviewer. Next time we will consider the same questions from the perspective of the candidate.

Often these questions aren't asked directly, but they are the questions that the candidate needs to answer positively to score well in the interview.

1. Can this candidate do the job we are recruiting for right now? In procurement recruitment terms, this is likely to be something like: 'If we give this candidate responsibility for this spend portfolio, can we expect her to deliver savings, consistent supply and improved supplier management?

2. Will this candidate fit in with our organisation and people? Being a good team member / leader, working well with other functions and having the flexibility and cultural awareness to work successfully with colleagues internationally is important too. Research the company culture - talk to your recruiter and to suppliers about the way the company buys now - and think about how you can show a fit.

3. Has she got potential to grow into larger / broader roles in the future? In most cases, organisations prefer to recruit people that are interested in continuing to develop their career. Being sure to convey your willingness to learn new things and the flexibility to adapt to changes to score well here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Specialist Procurement Job Boards - the third way of using them

Specialist Procurement job boards are good news for procurement people when it comes to recruitment: Less superfluous jobs to wade through to find the ones that are of interest and, on the other side of the table, less spurious applications from people that are so far from the job you advertised that you wonder if they even read it...

There is no doubt that most of the specialist procurement job boards and most of the recruiters and employers that use them are ethical operators. That said, the Jobs in Procurement team knows that there are some people that have some concerns about what happens to their CV and other personal data once they upload it or press the 'apply for this job button'

Maybe the concerns are valid. We blogged previously about managing your personal data on the web and, as time passes, it becomes increasingly important.

With that in mind, we suggest a method to make use of specialist job boards that gives you an increased level of control over your personal data.

Whatever you do, don't upload you details with important bits obscured / deleted. Nor is it recommended to post a skeleton profile that has your contact details and just a few words about your professional experience. If you are going to register, register properly with a full and detailed CV.

If you choose not to register, here is our suggestion. Browse the specialist procurement job boards and research who (specifically who) posts jobs that seem interesting to you. This maybe a specific HR person at a company or, more likely, a specialist procurement Recruiter.

Make contact with that person and have a conversation with them about the type of opportunity that would be interesting to you. You will find it easy to gauge from this conversation whether or not this is someone that can be helpful to you in your career search. Agree a way of working with them that keeps interesting opportunities coming your way and gives you the level of control over the process that you are happy with.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A first interview - what is the right balance?

The Jobs in Procurement team talks regularly with procurement people who sit on both sides of the table in job interviews. The first functional interview - when the two procurement professionals meet for the first time – is an absolutely critical stage of the recruitment process. In this post we offer a few observations based on the many such interviews that we have been involved in.

The balance of a first interview is important: what proportion of the time should be taken up by the candidate answering questions and what proportion of the time should be allocated to the employer providing information about the job, the organisation, the career path etc? Without trying to be prescriptive, the Jobs in Procurement team is of the opinion that the majority of the time (say 75& or even 80%) should be used for the candidate to answer questions put by the interviewer. After all, the primary objective of this first interview is for the interviewer to decide if the candidate sat in front of her is someone that can do the job in question. Competency based questions that lead to a discussion of responsibilities, achievements and ways of working were touched on in an earlier post.

However the candidate came to be sitting in the interview chair, talking about a potential procurement career development opportunity – by responding to a job advertisement whilst out of work, or as the result of an exhaustive paid for Executive Search – a significant part of the interview should be used by the interviewer to answer relevant questions on aspects of the job, the organisation and career development prospects. Developing the theme a little further, if the candidate is regarded positively in the interview, it is opportune for the employer to do a little selling! Just as one often needs to sell the benefits of a sourcing strategy to colleagues, it is also helpful to sell the benefits of joining your team to good candidates.

The Jobs in Procurement view is that practical aspects of the recruitment – unless they are likely to be 'showstoppers' (a big relocation for instance) and detailed discussions of salary and other conditions should not be on the agenda for a first interview.

This is a theme that the Jobs in Procurement team will develop further in the coming weeks.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Got a new procurement job? Leave the old one properly.

The Jobs in Procurement team has been involved in the recruitment of purchasing professionals for a long time now. One thing that we have learnt is that the procurement world is a pretty small place: as you progress in your procurement career, it is very likely that your journey will lead you to cross paths with people that you have worked with before sometime in the future.

Professionally managing your resignation and exit from a job / employer as you progress through your career is important. There is a phrase that is worth keeping in mind: don't burn your bridges.

In a resignation, thank your boss and your employer for the opportunity to learn and grow in your employment with them. It is most professional to make it clear that your decision to leave is a properly considered and final decision. It is particularly messy to resign and then accept a counter offer from your current employer and it will likely lead to some damage to your broader professional reputation.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Choosing a Procurement Recruiter is just like choosing any other supplier

The Jobs in Procurement team is surprised that Procurement professionals sometimes don't apply their sourcing skills when choosing a specialist procurement recruiter to work with.

If you are a choosing a specialist recruiter to help you with your job search or career development and, especially, if you are choosing a specialist recruiter to help you to source and recruit talent into your Purchasing team, it is our view that you should approach this supplier selection with as much rigour and planning as you would with any key and strategic supplier selection.

Without attempting to teach Granny how to suck eggs as the saying goes, consider these points - the Jobs in Procurement team think they are critical.

- Search the marketplace to identify potential specialist procurement recruiters to bring into the selection process.
- Communicate to them all the purpose of the selection
- Prepare the selection criteria that you will use to judge each procurement recruiter and weight each of the criteria to make your selection as scientific as possible. That said, don't ignore your gut feel - particularly if you choosing someone to help you with your job search: you need to work well with the person / firm you choose.
- In the selection process, be aware that the person that you deal with at the 'sales' stage might not be involved at all in the ongoing management of your relationship. Dig deeper and be sure that you assess the person / people that would actually be working with you / your organisation going forwards.
- Keep the process efficent and thorough - complete it in a timely manner and communicate the results to all participants in the selection process.
- Revisit your selection of specialist Procurement recruiter from time to time, especially if key personnel involved change.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CV tips for Procurement Professionals

It is important to conisder the use of 'the language of procurement' in your CV.

The Jobs in Procurement team believes that it is essential to properly balance the use of specific procurement terms in a CV: it is likely that a Procurement Director is going to review your CV at some time and its important to use language and terms that build credibility with this reader of course; however, initial screening of your CV might be undertaken by a HR person or an internal Recruiter so it is important that the use of purchasing specific terms is not so excessive that it becomes difficult to understand.

Take advice on your CV from specialists (the Procurement Recruiter that you are working with for instance) and non Procurement people (maybe a trusted colleague from another function), but always remember that it is your CV. If you ask 100 people for CV advice, you will get approximately 100 different inputs and the reality is that there is no single correct set of rules that you should follow - you need some individuality in your CV because you are an individual.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Want to hear about job opportunities, but don't want to have to search and apply yourself?

Then make sure you are 'visible' online in the Procurement world

Procurement professionals who have a job that they enjoy, with a good organisation, a decent boss, potential development moves and, of course, a heavy workload, might not have the inclination or time to actively follow the outside job market.

That said, most of those same people would like to hear about interesting career opportunities from time to time.

The view of the Jobs in Procurement team is that there is very little to lose and, potentially, a lot to gain by being in the position where one hears about relevant career development opportunities.

Make yourself visible in the Procurement world. Traditionally this could involve speaking at, or at least attending for networking purposes, Procurement conferences, Procurement roundtables and similar.

As the internet evolves and becomes increasingly useful, it is making things somewhat easier.

Just a question - have you ever googled yourself? Not just your name, but in the context of your area of expertise / specialisation. For example, if you are a Global Buyer, Glass Packaging at ABC Inc., does a google search for 'procurement glass packaging ABC Inc' return you anywhere in the first couple of pages of results?

If someone - a forward thinking Procurement Leader doing some recruitment / research or, more likely, a specialist Procurement Recruiter - is searching on the internet for someone with your background (maybe they are recruiting for your dream job), will they come up with your name?

There are many tools that you can use to create and manage your on line presence without doing anything as blatant as posting your CV on a job board. Consider using a networking site: Linkedin, Viadeo and Spoked are widely used by Procurement professionals and worth a look.

Thinking more broadly about your online profile, social networking is becoming increasingly common. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs (like this one) and bookmark sites like digg and del.icio.us all have a very high profile on the internet. As well as carefully incorporating your professional profile into the way you use such tools, it is sensible to take care that nothing appears that could be detrimental to your career as a result of your online activity.

In summary, if you want to hear about potential career opportunities without going to the length of making applications, a carefully managed profile on the internet is a great way to put you in a position where the right people can find you when they have something interesting to tell you about.

Proactively managing your own online profile is becoming increasingly important and the Jobs in Procurement team recommends that you make a start today.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Procurement Competency interviews

Competency based interviews are increasingly common now and it is likely that any interview you are invited to will have a competency element to it.

In addition to general competencies, specific procurement competencies are likely to be assessed too. This post is a short introduction to the types of question to expect and to help you to start thinking about how to answer such questions.

The structure of a procurement competency style question is something along the lines of

Describe a time when you sourced a new supplier for a category under your control.

Tell me about a time when you led a piece of work that delivered cost savings other than by a price reduction.

Describe the last supplier review meeting that you led, including its objectives and the outcome.

As you can see, the interview technique is designed to dig into the detail of the work that you have done, your achievements and the specific actions that you have taken to deliver the results that you outlined on your CV.

Whilst it is sensible to be mindful not to disclose confidential information in the necessarily detailed answers to questions like this, it is important that the answers you give do demonstrate to the interviewer that you have the skills, experience and style to make things happen.

A couple of years ago, during an interview preparation call, a candidate commented that this style of interviewing is similar to a performance review / appraisal. We agree. If you prepare for an interview in the same way that you prepare for your appraisal, you are off to a good start. After all, the interview is, potentially, your first appraisal with your new boss!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sourcing talented procurement professionals

The Jobs in Procurement team talks regularly with procurement leaders about recruitment and talent management related specifically to the procurement function. Whether they are responsible for a large, globally dispersed team or a smaller, local group, one of the top items on their agenda is recruitment, in particular how to access a pool of talented procurement professionals when there is a vacancy in their team.

In this post, the first in a series of posts on the subject of the recruitment of procurement professionals, the Jobs in Procurement team considers the most effective options that should be included in a recruitment strategy.

For the leader of a small procurement function, the need to recruit a new procurement professional may only arise quite rarely. The leaders of larger teams can often find that a significant part of their time is continuously taken up by the recruitment of procurement professionals into their teams.

The three key elements of an effective recruitment strategy for a procurement leader:

1. Build a network of procurement professionals.

- Build as large a network of relevant procurement people as practical. The internet has made this easier, but do not neglect 'traditional' networking mechanisms. Whilst Procurement as a function has less in terms of formal associations / professional bodies than, say Finance, there are procurement associations in most countries and some that cross borders. Consider joining a procurement association.

- Include mechanisms that establish relationships with procurement professionals at all levels. Think about the careers office at educational establishments that specialise in procurement qualifications, right through to Chief Procurement Officer networking groups.

- Such a network will enable relationships to be established with procurement people that might lead to an easy recruitment of someone that has been 'screened' even before a formal interview.

2. Have a clear and agreed view of the potential procurement skills needed

- Aligning the procurement team with the overall strategy of the organisation is a critical and evolving requirement. Taking the time to review and, where appropriate, document the requirements of the roles in the procurement team can be helpful in anticipating the specific skills, experience and personality required of the next procurement professional to be added to the team.

- Having clear and up to date job descriptions for each of the roles in the team can save considerable amounts of time when a recruitment is needed. As well as keeping HR onside, a properly produced job description will present a more professional image of the procurement function and the broader organisation to prospective candidates.

- It maybe goes without saying that discussing the scope of procurement roles with colleagues in other functions that could be affected / touched by a newly recruited procurement professional will, of course, make the whole recruitment process smoother and reduce the time taken to for the new hire to deliver.

3. Work with specialist procurement recruiters.

There are a number of specialist procurement recruitment firms that can be helpful in the recruitment of procurement professionals at all levels: from Procurement Analyst to Chief Procurement Officer. The Jobs in Procurement team firmly believes that working with recruiters that specialise in procurement is better than working with general recruiters.

There are a number of specialist procurement job boards, procurement search and selection firms and procurement executive search firms in existence nowadays. A more detailed review of some of these will follow in later posts. For now, it is fair to say that, as with most 'professional services,' recruitment is down to the individuals involved, not necessarily the company that those individuals work for.

It is recommended that procurement leaders include a small cadre of specialist procurement recruiters in their networking efforts. The investment of time, by both parties, to build a relationship that enables those recruiters to respond quickly to urgent needs and to proactively introduce directly relevant procurement professionals from time to time is, without doubt, worth it.