Geoarbitrage in Procurement Recruiting

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What is geoarbitrage? It’s a fancy term apparently coined by Tim Ferriss to refer to moving yourself or your business operations somewhere else to reduce expenses or the cost of living. Is procurement starting to do that with their recruit sourcing? It’s certainly a possibility and one we discuss in a recent episode of the Negotiations Ninja podcast. Martin Smith shares his thoughts on the globality of the procurement space and how he believes we will continue to see that trend.

Recruiting outside your operational region

Martin is based in the U.K., which is in line with South Africa. It wouldn’t be a stretch for Martin’s clients to source cheap labor from South Africa. The language and education level is similar. Based on the fact that everyone in the world is working from home right now, you could potentially source talent from any English-speaking country.

Procurement jobs are one of the fields that can be done virtually or in the same building. The market is evolving which means businesses can embrace the available technology and be creative. Because businesses are being forced to be mobile and flexible, candidates need to reflect that mentality. Martin certainly sees businesses moving in the direction of looking outside their normal radius.

Embrace the work-from-home silver lining

The current downside is that the geographic market that you live in has likely shrunk—but the opportunities have increased because work-from-home has become an option. You can truly live and work anywhere. It’s a great silver lining of what’s happened with the coronavirus pandemic. It’s changed the thinking of businesses and challenged them to expand their horizons. Procurement was already becoming a truly global workforce and COVID has only reinforced that.

Is the procurement landscape really that different globally? How does the U.K. compare to the US and Canada as far as talent goes?

Contrasting candidates in the UK and the US

Martin finds that procurement professionals in the U.K. are still quite linear in their thinking. If they’ve worked in pharmaceuticals, they’re likely to want to stay in their category even though their skills will translate across the industry. The U.S. tends to be more open-minded about changing industries and not necessarily being stuck in the same vertical. The U.K. and Canada are also probably more focused on education.

Martin believes the U.K. needs to embrace an openness to investing in procurement in startups. Procurement professionals in the U.K. tend to gravitate toward the big corporate companies. But with those companies, you tend to see frequent churn. Martin sees more entrepreneurship in the U.S. with the desire to consult or work with multiple clients rather than sticking to the 9–5 job. But procurement doesn’t have to be that anymore.

Every procurement professional wants to add value and work in a strategic procurement environment. They want accreditation, training, and support—that’s the same everywhere.

How do you set yourself apart in a space that’s turning to global sourcing? How do procurement professionals create leverage when they have none? How do you make a lasting first impression? Martin addresses all of these topics in episode 169 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast. Check it out!