Edbury Daley Q3 Procurement Recruitment Report – Some Worrying Signs?

The quarterly market update from recruitment firm Edbury Daley is always worth a read, and the latest Q3 issue (available from their website here) is no exception.

However, as we move towards the end of what has been an eventful and challenging year, it raises some somewhat worrying issues that might show the beginning of post-Brexit vote fall-out for the procurement profession.

But first, the good news. The firm is strong in the sub-sector of the market which recruits for “procurement solutions” firms; encompassing technology, consulting and outsourced service providers. “Here, demand continues to be strong, as it has been for some time. Specialist consultants with client facing skills and experience in P2P, eSourcing, Spend Analytics and/or Vendor Management solutions are also in strong demand from the various different solution providers who are enjoying growth in their client bases in both public and private sectors”.

Firms are usually looking for similar experience, but there are some opportunities certainly for “traditional” procurement professionals to make the move across to the solution provider side of life. If you have decent “consulting-type skills” and have worked on a major Ariba or Coupa implementation for example, you might well be in luck.

Moving onto the more problematic areas, it is worth revising what was said last time. The previous report was published very shortly after the result of the EU referendum and focused heavily on people’s initial reactions to Brexit. We presented a balanced view but there was clearly some concern about the impact despite the most common response being “it’s business as usual for us.”

But generally, post-referendum there was no immediate change in the market, it’s fair to say. However this time, although the overall demand is not drastically changed, “the market is increasing­ly showing signs of quite cautious behaviour”. Some examples of that provided in the report are:

  • Long, drawn out interviewing processes with multiple stages
  • Clients regularly missing self-imposed deadlines for progress
  • Unexpected internal appointments following a comprehensive external “beauty parade”
  • Ever changing requirements in skills, experience and/or salary range - hiring managers regularly moving the goal posts.

Now we might argue that this is just poor recruitment practice and operations, but it may equally represent signs of a more cautious approach, with senior executives perhaps questioning recruitment already underway, because of Brexit uncertainty.

Edbury Daley are also seeing more counter-offers coming into play; when someone announces they are leaving, the employer tries harder to get them to stay. In a sense, that is a sign that something is wrong: “… procurement leaders talk about wanting to retain and develop their best people. However, in many cases people don’t see or feel that until they get to the stage where they are ready to resign. This suggests that they aren’t seeing clear promotion paths, professional development or feeling valued”.

The report also suggests that the interim market “has been less than buoyant since the 2015 election", and that is continuing, with perhaps some evidence of increased spare capacity, particularly at senior levels (i.e. more people looking for jobs). And that brings us onto another interesting observation about senior roles – but we will come back to that another day.

Do take a look at the whole report though - available here.

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