Founder and MD of Procurement Heads, Rupert Gaster, takes a look at the current state of the procurement and supply chain recruitment market.
How busy is the recruitment market at the moment?
I don’t think you need to look too hard to get data that supports the belief that there is a lot of work out there.
REC and the Office for National Statistics have been producing regular data around that, the figure is somewhere between 1.1 and 1.3 million jobs out in the market.
How is that feeding through to procurement?
In general, the market has never been busier, certainly in my 23 years in the profession, at Procurement Heads, we have never seen a more buoyant market and I think that across everyone’s careers, this is going to be the peak time in hiring that we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes.
Never has the onus been greater on the profession.
So, procurement professionals are in really significant demand and that demand is generally based around that return on investment that great hire can make for your organisation.
Specifically, in procurement, it’ll be around cost savings, it’ll be around efficiencies and increased productivity, it might be about buy-in from the business, but the best people can significantly transform the way your function behaves and performs.
Therefore, why not get a really great recruiter to engage with you on these things because you can make a real step-change in where your organisation is going.
The pandemic really highlighted how important procurement and supply chain are, something that hasn’t relented.
I think there are three things really at stake here, what we’ve seen coming out of 2020 is significant pent-up demand.
So, you had many organisations that simply did not recruit for a 12 or 18 month period.
You’ve then had two areas come to light, which is the risk that the pandemic uncovered in organisations and then really what I tend to articulate as the acceleration of agendas.
Organisations have been moving towards automation and AI for a number of years now, but really the pandemic has accelerated that.
Those three things really put together have created such significant demand for procurement people that really the supply hasn’t been able to keep up.
Certainly, within 2021, we were noticing that it was really challenging to move people on.
What are we seeing now?
We’re seeing organisations fighting hard to retain their best people, so organisations that are trying to attract people need to fight equally hard, if not harder, to onboard those people.
How can recruiters help businesses achieve marginal gains?
I think a lot of the time we’ll work with organisations that have already got internal recruitment and HR functions and we are very respectful of that.
We want to act as ambassadors to those organisations, but often when it comes to finding specialist skills, you need a specialist to do that, you need their network, their knowledge, their approach, and methodology.
Specialist recruitment companies can add such significant value because it’s all about a speed to competence.
How quickly will they be able to leverage their network in order that they can present you with a qualified shortlist?
I think right now specialist recruitment companies are powering the economy’s recovery.
It isn’t simply about organisations now performing at a higher level.
It’s about bringing brilliant, talented people into those organisations in order to make that step change that is required in the economy at this time.
How is all of this featuring Procurement Heads?
Procurement Heads has had an unbelievable year, there’s no escaping that and that’s a really positive thing.
All the challenges of 18 months ago have all but disappeared.
But, the challenges have changed.
We are growing significantly, we have pivoted our model so that we now organise ourselves in a practice methodology, which enables us to work with customers across the whole of the UK and Europe.
Now we are working with customers from Scotland down to Cornwall and in mainland Europe on their mandates and it doesn’t matter now whether we are based in their location, we can use digital tools to meet people.
Principally, we have got deep expertise in those practice areas, we have an industrial practice that looks after manufacturing, engineering, aviation automotive, likewise, within financial services, servicing the banking, the management consultancy sectors – deep experts facing into those markets across the UK.
That pivot has really enabled us to leverage our experience, consolidate all of the activity we do in those sectors, but also be the expert and we are now onboarding clients right across the UK and Europe as a consequence.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the last year?
The biggest change that I’ve seen in the market in the last 12 months is that we are advocating organisations collaborating and partnering with recruitment companies.
It’s not enough now just to say that we can do this quicker than the rest, it’s about approach and methodology, which is so critical.
Often now there are multiple different things that need to go into a search in order for that right person to be attracted into an organisation.
Increasingly we are seeing organisations partnering not only on an exclusive basis but retaining the services of Procurement Heads in order to do that and that enables us to invest the time, tools and methodology in finding that right person for you.
It’s not about simply about sending a CV first or fastest, it’s about attracting the right person, matching culture to behaviours and vice versa.
Our vision is to deliver recruitment as a professional service, what does that mean to you?
Ultimately, the vision that we’ve now created, to deliver recruitment as a professional service is simply not about professionalising recruitment, albeit that I’m a very powerful advocate of that, it’s about looking at recruitment as any other professional service would be.
Whether it’s audit, tax, legal, management consultancies, for example, we really value our time and we want our customers to similarly value and recognise the time investment that we make in hiring the great people for you.
Recruitment as a professional service is about transitioning recruitment from a transactional activity of sending CVs and managing a database, which of course, is an element of what we do, but to the more strategic activities that take time, investment partnership, collaborative over months and months and years in order to achieve that fantastic result for your organisation.
What we are advocating is an investment in recruitment partnerships consistently throughout the market.
For a conversation without obligation on how Procurement Heads can help support your next procurement or supply chain recruitment campaign, click here to contact the team.