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A Look at the Current State of Procurement Recruiting

By February 9, 2023April 9th, 2024No Comments

The last few years in procurement recruiting have been wild – just like the external conditions procurement professionals have been hard at work helping their companies address. 

To learn more, Philip Ideson recently welcomed Mark Holyoake onto the podcast [listen here]. They discussed what a rollercoaster ride it has been, whether things are finally settling down, and even what Mark sees on the horizon.

Increased Demand for Procurement

There has been a notable increase in the level of recruitment activity within procurement during the last year and a half. From Mark’s perspective, the signs this increase would occur were present at the beginning of the pandemic. 

Many companies are naturally worried about their cost base, supply chain, and supplier risk. They need practical procurement advice. After a brief hiring freeze at the start of the shutdowns, recruiters rushed to fill open procurement positions, spurring movement within the profession and.salary increases as well.  

The job market became more competitive as everyone tried to acquire the same talent, and while the heightened focus on procurement hiring was unlikely to continue at that level, the trend has benefited procurement overall.  Many of the salary increases we observed during this frantic hiring window were overdue – and procurement closed the gap between what they were making and what they hoped to make very quickly. 

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Eventually, it became evident that we were slowly but surely exiting that phase. While the rate of change and the scale of salary increases have both slowed, 2023 has ushered in a new stage of procurement recruitment. Rather than looking at this year’s activity as a decrease from the last two years, procurement should see it as a logical normalization after 18 months of unusually high demand for talent.

It is reasonable for procurement professionals to read the news about tech sector layoffs and worry, but those companies are not a good proxy for the entire talent market. This is why it is so important to acknowledge this year’s adjustment as a return to normal in procurement recruiting rather than a departure from it. 

There is still undoubtedly a need for procurement talent, and ‘talent shortages’ remain at the top of the list in articles and analyst content about procurement challenges. 

Hiring managers are facing a shift today as well. Many of the procurement professionals willing to make a move have now done so, making it hard to find top talent at a time when strategic capabilities and expertise are sorely needed. 

The Underlying Truth About the Procurement Talent Shortage

Many procurement professionals are curious about whether there is a specific talent profile in demand and whether that profile is hard to recruit compared to all positions in procurement. There will always be some categories that companies don’t believe can be managed without in-depth knowledge; some specialized skills are historically more in demand than others. 

That 12 to 18-month period of unsustainable but incredible recruitment activity forced many companies to consider creative avenues for assessing potential talent. Especially since there is a growing market for generalists looking for different challenges, teams, and opportunities.

While it’s likely that, at some point, these same companies will return to old/traditional recruiting habits, for now, it appears that they are being more innovative and are embracing procurement generalists just as much as specialists.  

To hear more from Mark about the current state of procurement talent and recruiting, listen to Riding the Rollercoaster of Procurement Recruiting w/ Mark Holyoake on the Art of Procurement podcast.

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