Hiring procurement staff for your public sector company

There are certain skills all procurement professionals are required to have, no matter what industry they are in. Buyers need to find the right products at the right price, supply chain staff have to be well organised and all procurement staff need to be innovative when looking at cost cutting measures.

When hiring procurement staff for your public sector company, you also need to make sure that they have the right to deal with government distributed funds, targets and management differences.

Here are the things you should look out for to ensure you hire the right staff for a public sector procurement role.

Would they fit in with the culture?

If the person you are hiring is from a procurement role in the private sector, they may be used to looking to increase returns in each of the procurement decisions they make. Public sector targets are more focused on cutting costs and ensuring the consumer receives the best possible deal.

Public sector procurement staff must have a keen eye for cost cutting measures, and must be able to see a picture bigger than just “profit”. Whilst the drive to get the best offer from suppliers is still important, in the public sector this is done so the money can be repurposed elsewhere, not for shareholders or company owner’s profits.

Can they work in high pressured environments?

The way public and private companies use their budgets is different. Private businesses can easily move money from one department to another if conditions change; this is much harder in the public sector. As well, procurement staff have very little control over the procurement cycle as their funding is distributed by the government.

This means that funding can change overnight in the public sector, and procurement employees can be thrown under immense pressure to ensure they remain on good terms with their suppliers.

When hiring, you need to ensure that candidates can remain calm under pressure. Compared to private sector staff, they will have to deal with a lot of changes that are out of their control – an ability to adapt is essential.

What management styles do they work best under?

There tend to be different management styles in operation in the private and public sector; these differences affect the whole supply chain.

As the public sector is surrounded by so much red tape, management styles tend to be bureaucratic. This is because there is so little room for flexibility or nurturing of innovation. As well, staff in the public sector are not managed by company owners or boards of directors, but instead a legislative body made up of hundreds of people.

Potential employees need to be able to adapt to public sector management techniques, as well as the governance and decision making abilities of many different people, rather than just a board of 10 or 20.

What are their relationship and teamwork skills like?

One of the main differences between private and public sector procurement is the relationships they build with other procurement professionals. Private sector employees will often keep their habits confidential, so competitors don’t access their cheap supplier or adopt their cost cutting measure.

In the public sector, procurement teams in similar industries commonly share information, such as tips on reliable suppliers. It’s in everyone's benefit to keep costs as low as possible across the whole public sector, so you must be sure that an employee is willing to be open to discussing strategy and taking on board suggestions from other areas.

Have they got what it takes?

It takes exceptional staff to work in the public sector procurement industry. Like all procurement professionals, they need to be highly skilled in relationship building, communication, organisation and numeracy. They also need to have the extra drive and commitment required to work for a large company that operates for public good, rather than profit.

If you want to hire public sector procurement staff there are two things you can do: register your vacancy with us or get in contact and we’ll work closely with you to find the right person for the job.

Our offices are in a prestigious Central London location near Liverpool Street, so if you’re in the area you could pop in to speak to us. We’ll be more than happy to help.

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