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Changing industries in procurement

The birth of e-procurement and the development of sophisticated online supply chains have placed purchasing professionals firmly in the 21st century.

But has this eased the difficult path that has traditionally faced procurement professionals wanting to change industries?

Sector-specific experience

Skills can often play second fiddle to a person’s experience. This can result in perfectly capable job candidates being overlooked before they've had a chance to show the transferability of their skills, simply because their experience doesn't quite fit the bill.

Senior management needs to realise that purchasing is a management skill as well as a function. There are similarities between sectors that could allow staff to move between them. And while some sectors are more amenable to fresh thinking than others, the cutting-edge organisations within those sectors have had sophisticated recruitment processes in place for some time.

Transferable skills

As a procurement professional, you will possess a number of core transferable skills. The key is to concentrate on your capabilities in the job and focus on the key skills that have enabled you to get to where you are today.

Highlight your key achievements and explain the qualities and skills that you used. Be as general as possible - the fundamentals always apply. If your skills can save money in one sector, then the chances are they can save money in another sector too. And remember that negotiation and communication skills are paramount in almost any purchasing role, as is the ability to establish and develop successful supplier partnerships.

Get qualified

If you want to move between industries, look at the dynamics of your sector of interest and concentrate on highlighting your core skills. Sector-specific knowledge can be assimilated faster than core skills such as negotiation and communication.

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) offers qualifications that can boost your chances if you're looking to cross industry sector boundaries. Being CIPS qualified gives you extra confidence – and it gives you an advantage when you're looking for new jobs. In many cases, it is one of the key criteria an employer uses to sort through piles of CVs.

For more information, visit the CIPS website.