Buyer becomes seller to beat redundancy_2

14 December 2009

30 November 2009 | Rebecca Ellinor

Today Shelley Pilsbury begins her new job as IT sourcing senior director, strategic sourcing and supplier management, at global health service company CIGNA in the US.

Shelley PilsburyNine months ago she was in shock after her position - CPO at Willis Group Holdings in New York - was made redundant.

Writing in the winter issue of CPO Agenda (, Pilsbury said after 25 years of employment she found herself having to sell herself in the middle of a global recession. Here are her four pieces of advice to other jobseekers:

1. Get certified
"It is a supplier's market. Job specifications require MBA degrees and varying supply chain certifications. I studied for and received my certified purchasing manager certification to distinguish myself. An additional benefit was the networking opportunities in the classroom."

2. Use your network
"I updated my CV to reflect my breadth of skills and experience while minimising my age. I provided different versions to peers who commented on each. This helped me see how potential employers would interpret my CV, and let peers know I was seeking work."

3. Re-examine the fundamentals
"I aspired to another CPO position so studied those job descriptions in search of patterns. Three fundamental skills were must-haves: project management skills, diverse communication skills and strong negotiation talent. I emphasised these points in my interviews and cover letters."

4. Stay up to date on trends
"I knew if I didn't stay current on trends and terminology, I would fall short at a job interview. I was a regular at meetings of the Institute for Supply Management in New York, which also led to more networking opportunities."

* The full article will appear in the winter issue of CPO Agenda (

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