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The World of Global Procurement Recruitment with Martin Smith, Ep #169

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What can you do to improve your attractiveness, candidacy, and relevance in the market? How do you hold strong on the value you offer when the job availability in your region just isn’t there? The procurement industry is growing into a global force and procurement professionals need to adapt to their changing world.

Martin Smith—the Managing Director of Talent Drive in the U.K.—joins this episode of the Negotiations Ninja podcast to share a fascinating outside perspective into the procurement industry. He is a high-level top-tier procurement recruiter. Martin is also the host of the Talent Talks podcast, where procurement people in the field give unreal tips about staying relevant in the market. Don’t miss his insight into the world of procurement.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:43] Martin Smith’s background in the industry
  • [3:37] Why procurement people don’t like talking about themselves
  • [4:21] How the market is changing in the U.K.
  • [6:54] How to approach a raise or position change
  • [8:53] How to approach the interview
  • [10:28] Geo arbitrage: cheaper labor?
  • [14:30] How is an interview similar to a negotiation?
  • [19:09] Contrasting candidates in the U.K. and the U.S.
  • [21:25] The rapid move towards implementing AI
  • [23:43] Be authentic + be yourself
  • [24:28] How to connect with Martin

How the market is changing in the UK

Procurement has felt the ripple effect from the coronavirus pandemic—just like every industry—but they have been less impacted. It’s partially because procurement is at the forefront of business. They’re raising their profile and taking a seat at the table. There are still people that have lost jobs, e.g. in the U.K., the middle-manager level has been affected the most. But high-level procurement professionals such as directors are staying put.

Martin points out if procurement can’t be at the forefront, when can they be? Procurement is driving a lot of value right now and they’re involved in every spectrum of business, from negotiation to supply risk management. Recruiters should be investing even more in head-count, in resource, and training and upscaling their teams.

How to approach a raise or position change

The employer/hiring manager has a lot of leverage in the current market. Pre-COVID, Martin would’ve said we’re easily in a candidate-led market where they could leverage high salaries. But now he’s seeing negative leverage. He’s seeing client’s lowballing offers and salaries to people who are worth $80,000+ and they’re offering $20,000–$30,000 less. Sadly, they can do that right now given the current economic market.

The unfortunate part is that some of the top-talent procurement professionals are saying yes to these low salaries—but when the market picks back up they’re out the door. They aren’t valued when they’re not offered what they’re worth and it isn’t a long-term solution for the business. Martin points out that businesses need to think about long-term investment and actually value procurement. Because 9/10 times that someone wants a high salary, they’re worth it.

Realize your value—and hold strong

So what do you do in a market that’s not driven by the talent? How do you approach an interview where you know you’ll be negotiating your salary? Martin’s immediate response is to stick to your price point and what your value is. Obviously, some factors could impact that. If it’s a fast-growing company or you’ve connected with the management and there’s added value—other than salary—you can consider a natural compromise.

But when you enter the interview process, have the bottom-line number in your head. Stick to that number. If you lower your value, you’re joining the organization not feeling valued. The economy will pick up and it will recover. COVID isn’t forever. Sometimes you have to hold out a little bit for the right role.

Is procurement moving toward geoarbitrage? How do candidates in the U.S. and Canada compare to those in the U.K.? How do you turn traditional interview negotiations upside down? Martin shares his take—so keep listening.

The rapid move towards implementing AI

Procurement is seeing a rapid move toward the implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate as much as possible. They’re automating tactical roles to make things more efficient and easier on the organization. It’s prevalent in the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. The front-end of the procurement process is investing in that technology.

Procurement professionals have to move into more strategic roles or learn how to code to monitor the AI in the tactical roles. You have to stay relevant or you will be replaced. Every role needs to invest in tech-driven training. Martin’s advice is to upscale yourself in the tech—in every role—every chance you get. What else does he believe procurement professionals need to do to stand out? Listen to the whole episode to learn more about the procurement industry!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Martin Smith

Connect With Mark

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