Confessions of a Procurement Recruitment specialist – an insider’s experience

We are delighted to bring you this first-hand look into procurement recruitment best practice from Peter Brophy at Edbury Daley. Peter has been recruiting Procurement Professionals for over ten years; his experience spans a number of sectors including aerospace, engineering, manufacturing, professional services and corporate functions such as HR, finance as well as procurement. Here he gives his own experiences of the challenges facing procurement recruitment and some strong advice on how to solve them. Part 2 will follow shortly.

EDlogo (1)Recruiting for Procurement is very similar to that of other professions in many ways, but I have seen some major variations in terms of the processes and methods used to attract, source, assess and on-board procurement people into organisations. In two articles I will look at some of the major pitfalls I have witnessed first-hand in both recruitment practice and the use of recruitment agencies. Let’s start with Recruitment Practice.

Recruitment Practice

Good practice means different things to different organisations as their strategies and corporate objectives vary. To get it right organisations need to align their recruitment process to match their values and behaviours and ensure the process reflects their brand, so candidates understand the organisation’s culture and ethos. Many frequently get it wrong, and the brand ‘value’ that is communicated is one of arrogance -- an organisation concerned only with itself and not with the experience of the candidate.

To get it right every time, some thought needs to go into all five key stages of recruitment, these are:

  1. Recruitment (headcount) sign off, job specification and budget
  2. Candidate Attraction
  3. Candidate Assessment
  4. Candidate Offer
  5. Candidate Onboarding

In my experience, organisations often jump straight to the second stage – but consider: you wouldn’t  commence an RFI or RFP without FIRST trying to understand what your objectives were or asking key stakeholders what they need? Why is recruitment different?

It shouldn’t be and if you get it wrong the legal aspect can be severe for the organisation. The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) publishes a number of guides and case studies. These focus on ensuring the HR and legal aspects such as Right to Work or Discrimination are correctly managed so you don’t get it wrong. It is critical that clear processes for these aspects of recruitment are in place and regularly audited.

Reasons for poor practice often include:

  • Lack of time and resource: many organisations do not put enough resource and time into their recruitment and so the process is disjointed, and whilst it happens and people ‘arrive’ in the business, it is often despite the process not because of it.
  • Poor communication: the most prevalent candidate complaints are typically ‘no response to their application,’ ‘not receiving full feedback’ and so on. Surveys show that more than 50 percent of applicants have a negative view of the company at the end of the process -- and these candidates, of course, could  be tomorrow’s customers!
  • The basics are often not in place. A Job Description may exist but is often generic and has very little relationship to what the job holder will actually need to do or the knowledge, skills and competencies they will need to have. Again, would you start a procurement sourcing process without understanding your objectives?
  • Lack of vision: most organisations recruit for what they need now not for the future, and too many procurement people do not take it seriously enough or prepare fully for an interview, for example, skim reading the CV at the last moment!

The following are some examples of candidate feedback about the interviewer:

  • ‘spent most of the interview looking out of the window’
  • ‘arrived 15 minutes late with no explanation’
  • ‘he arrived late and spent the first few minutes reading my CV’
  • ‘cancelled our meeting with an hour’s notice as a stakeholder urgently needed to see him’
  • ‘After three meetings the feedback was that I didn’t have the required level of category knowledge yet I was briefed that the final meeting was about personality fit to the Director’

It is important to put yourself in the shoes of the candidate -- how would you feel if that candidate were you? Tomorrow we will look at the converse side from the interviewer’s angle and explore the use of agencies.

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