Can a CIPS Qualification Further My Procurement Career? FAQs Answered

Whether you’ve achieved your Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) accreditation or are just starting to consider getting qualified, there are a number of things you need to consider. Here, Zarah Morton, Senior Manager at recruitment specialist Michael Page Procurement & Supply Chain answers the top five frequently asked questions when it comes progressing and starting your career in procurement.

  1. Is a CIPS qualification necessary to get hired?

The answer to this really depends on the employer – some will specifically reference CIPS membership in their job ads, but others could focus more on your previous experience.

While it is possible to enter the profession at any level,  many employers will want to see relevant training on your CV. Particularly if you’re new to the profession, a relevant CIPS accreditation can help to highlight your knowledge and boost your CV’s appeal to prospective employers. If you have an accredited degree and relevant experience, an additional CIPS qualification and training may not be necessary. Some degrees are accredited by CIPS and as such, you’ll receive membership upon successful completion of the relevant criteria. Typically, you’ll need to have completed three years’ experience post-qualification to gain full membership and be officially able to use the MCIPS letters on your CV.

Whatever role you’re applying for, remember that the right education and training should always be backed up by practical, hands-on experience. Employers will always look for a balance of the two as proof that you can apply your learning in practice. A CIPS qualification can help you advance your understanding of purchasing and supply management as well as other essential issues that affect business, but you’ll also need to show proven aptitude for making the theory work in real business environments.

  1. Should I specialise as a category expert?

The majority of roles advertised in procurement are category-specific, so it is worth developing expertise in certain categories that interest you. An area that always commands category experts is IT Procurement (apart from at entry level). That said, procurement generalists aren’t any less likely to get hired –  many clients still look for cross-category capabilities too.

The most important thing is to understand the role you’re applying for and make sure you know what the employer is after. Even if you think you can do it, does your profile prove it? Tailoring your CV with category-specific examples is key.

  1. Do I need "OJEU knowledge" to work in public sector?

In short, the answer is yes. The Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) is shorthand for "do you know how to run a legal public sector procurement process" and is a prerequisite for the majority of public sector clients. That said, some clients may hire people based on their commercial background, on the proviso that there are opportunities to train them on OJEU-specific issues at a later date.

Equally, some senior candidates are hired without detailed OJEU knowledge on the assumption they will work to pick it up quickly once in the role, and probably have more junior staff who are experts. If an opportunity in the public sector really appeals to you, and you have a private sector background, then it’s worth asking your agent to enquire with the client.

  1. How can I prove that I’m good at procurement?

The simplest way to measure your delivery is savings. Think about the financial business benefit of the work you’ve carried out. How much did you save against target? Are there projected future savings to your strategy?

However, not all activity is associated with explicit financial reward so where this is the case talk about the benefits in project terms. What was the status when you started? What journey did you take the business on? What was the outcome and how was it received? What were the challenges of the project? and so on. Remember, always market yourself appropriately and provide robust examples of your experience.

  1. Is it an issue if I haven’t managed the end-to-end sourcing process?

Not at all. Not everyone starts their career in procurement as a global category manager! Whatever your responsibilities within the sourcing process, the key thing is to show ownership. Don’t exaggerate your deliverables or claim responsibility for other people’s efforts, you won’t be expected to have personally delivered everything.

Instead,  make sure you discuss what you delivered with conviction. Lead with “I” statements – “I supported the tender” shows much more confidence than “We delivered a tender”. A small saving that you personally delivered will impress a prospective employer far more than a multimillion pound one that is obviously not yours to claim.


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