Procurement jobs – how transferable are your skills?

I spoke last week to a group of graduate and 'fast track' procurement trainees at a major Government Department.  The theme was largely around careers, and after I'd finished waffling on about my random career, and given them some views on where procurement might be going in the next few years, we had some Q & A.

There were interesting questions about the value of CIPS and the CIPS qualification (which I recommended), and also around the differences between public and private sector. This bunch are in one the the best public sector organisations, from a procurement standpoint, but there is still obviously some concern around about cutbacks. So the chances of getting a job in the private sector was obviously on a number of minds.

We wrote about this back at the end of last year, so I'd suggest that if things are getting tough, take a look at our posts here,  here  and here with suggestions on how to come over well at interviews and write cvs. The posts were aimed at public sector folk but actually most of it is totally applicable to anyone going for a job.

The most important aspect for anyone moving sector is to consider carefully what your transferable and applicable skills and experience are.  So that may be technical skills e.g. implementing eProcurement or Sourcing technology; category management, both process and specific categories; or process /change management e.g. introduced a Purchasing Card process or a skills development programme.

All of these and many other aspects can transfer public to private or across sectors. And avoid the opposite - so my advice to public sector folk trying to move into the private sector, for instance, is don't emphasise "giving policy advice to Ministers"  or "preparing breifings for the Council leader" even if those sort of activities were highlights of your role. They just don't translate to Tesco or Heinz, and probably entrench the stereotype of a public servant as being weak in delivery skills.

But emphasise the positive and transferable, and there is no reason why a good procurement person in any organisation can't make the leap to a different sector or business.

First Voice

  1. Dan:

    GPS is in an interesting position in my view. In the civil service, the ‘fast stream’ graduate trainee scheme guarantees an interview at a middle management position at the end of your term of placements (this is the one that is trying to find the next generation of senior civil servants).

    Anyone else find it worrying that the GPS scheme doesn’t offer this? Presumably there is limited hope for retention of the ‘best/brightest’ junior staff once they’ve achieved their MCIPS as they either (i) face cutbacks as per post above; or (ii) cannot progress onwards and upwards.

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