Why Procurement Hiring Methods Need To Change in 2015

Over the past decade, the tools and technology used for recruiting have changed dramatically, but unfortunately, this has not impacted Procurement hiring or, in general, hiring methods. Such tools as LinkedIn are used dominantly by recruiters; however, the process remains much the same. It often looks like this:

  • Post the job on various job portals, most often with a long description of required skills and qualifications.

  • Recruiters screen resumes based on keywords.

  • Interviews and selection done.

  • Job offer made.

So, you may ask, what is the problem… especially for hiring Procurement talent?

We surveyed senior procurement professionals and they reveal the following challenges:

  • It takes too long to hire, in some cases as long as 5 to 6 months.

  • A considerable amount of time is spent screening resumes.

  • Recruiters are not specialized in procurement talent hiring and thus, they tend to rely on keywords provided by the hiring manager.

All said and done, there is no guarantee that after doing an evaluation, you will find the right candidate. This especially holds true once you put them on the job. Let’s face it: There is only so much you can evaluate in a 60-minute interview.

Let’s talk about specific challenges

1. A focus on Keywords doesn’t help

  • Keyword-based searches to find the right candidate are not effective:

i.It depends upon the hiring manager to define the right keywords, and if not defined correctly, you probably go through multiple iterations.

ii.If the candidates have not optimized their LinkedIn Profile or resume for keywords, then chances are they will not show up in a search, or the ATS (Application Tracking System) will reject such candidates.

iii.You can miss some good candidates, especially more passive candidates.

  • Recruiters who specialize in procurement talent can certainly find good candidates because they look beyond the keywords, but how many recruiters truly specialize in Procurement hiring?

2. Candidates sometimes are not overly truthful on their resumes

    I am not saying that people in general are not truthful, but I have seen cases where a candidate resume has been “polished” so that it meets specific requirements.

  • Most people do Keyword research to optimize their resume so that it shows up in a search or so that they can pass the robot test (ATS tools). This often leads to “false positives.”

  • People have a different perception/understanding of the buzzwords they put on their resumes. For example, let’s take “Spend analysis.” The meaning is very different if you are a category lead or if you are a procurement analyst focused on managing data for your spend application. Sound familiar?

How you can address these challenges

In our survey, we also asked procurement professionals how they address these challenges. Most of them do the following:

  • When recruiter options were exhausted, they searched within their own network to find the right candidate.

  • They ultimately hire individuals from other departments that have the category expertise, for example, marketing and subsequently coach them on Procurement and Sourcing skills.

If you have a huge network of potential candidates or you have the time to hire and train people, then you can stop here. But if not, let’s look at other potential solutions.

1. Focus on defining requirements Skillsets

Identify specific skills (think RFP), which are required for the job and try to define them in an objective fashion instead of never-ending job descriptions. For example, the broad categories for a Sourcing Manager could be:

i. Category expertise: to assess the domain’s specific skills

  • What categories they have handled?

  • The savings delivered.

  • Their specific contribution to those savings. For example, writing an RFP vs. negotiating the savings with a vendor.

ii. Analytical skills: To assess their capabilities to dissect data and interpret results

  • How they perform spend analysis?

  • What are the different techniques they have used to identify savings?

iii.Soft skills, such as collaboration, which is key for  working with stakeholders

2. Change the screening process so that you can evaluate the skill sets

Once you have defined the requirements, your screening process needs to change

  • Define a process to screen the key skills, at least specific job-related skill sets. For example, a candidate’s expertise related to category management, their contribution to savings, etc.

  • Identify a threshold for the qualifications of the candidate, based on those you can call in for interviews.

  • Given that you can’t judge everything in screening, consider things like personality, which you can leave for a face to face interview


What are the benefits?

Reduced time to hire: By focusing on skills and with assistance from the right systems, you can screen the candidates faster and spend less time on hiring. If done right, this can reduce your hiring time by 50%.

Hire the right candidate: Nothing is guaranteed in life, but you can definitely increase the chances of finding the right candidate because of the focused hiring approach.

If you have a hiring story to share or specific feedback, please feel free to drop us a line at carl@hireoapp.com