Editor’s Note: Charles is founder, president and chief procurement officer of Next Level Purchasing, which offers the SPSM (Senior Professional in Supply Management) Certification.
Be sure to check out Charles’ Purchasing Certification Blog.
In Part I of this article, I addressed the common question of “Can I break into procurement without having had any procurement experience?” I wrote about how it is indeed possible to break into procurement without procurement experience, but that you would likely need to demonstrate to a hiring manager at least one of five characteristics to prove that you had what it takes to be worthy of a procurement role.
I introduced three of those characteristics in Part I: Negotiation Experience, Leadership Experience, and A Procurement Certification. In this article, I’ll cover the remaining two.
A Technical Skill. In the last 10 years or so, we’ve seen a rise in technical procurement positions. Some companies seek the benefit of having procurement being managed by someone who understands the technical intricacies of a product as well as the benefit of having procurement managed by someone with a keen eye for cost containment, risk minimization, and business ethics. Thus, titles like “sourcing engineer,” “procurement engineer,” “technical procurement specialist,” and others have become more common than ever. In fact, I know one CPO whose advanced degree is in nuclear engineering! Now, these types of technical procurement positions aren’t a part of every company but, by searching a little bit, you can certainly find procurement departments seeking to augment their staffs with people who have backgrounds in engineering, finance, and other disciplines that historically didn’t intersect much with procurement.
Knowledge About The Profession. At the very least, if you want to break into procurement, you should at least have knowledge about the profession. There are plenty of articles, videos, LinkedIn groups, online courses, blogs, and even procurement association memberships that you can access on the web to learn more about procurement. If you are lucky enough to get an interview with a procurement manager for a procurement position and you don’t have procurement experience, you at least need to be able to speak the language of procurement so that the procurement manager can see that you won’t be lost in this new world. With all of these resources available, there is no excuse not to at least be able to be able to intelligently discuss basic procurement process and terminology.
So, as you can see, it is not impossible to break into procurement without having had procurement experience. You can also see that the typical procurement job isn’t something that is filled with just “anyone off the street.” You have to be able to demonstrate some type of knowledge of or interest in procurement as well as perhaps a track record with a related skill. But it can be done and I hope that this article inspires you to join the ranks of proud procurement professionals everywhere!