Start a ‘talent pipeline’, buyers told

Procurement departments searching for new recruits should try looking outside the profession.

Graham Lucas, managing director of procurement and supply chain for recruitment firm Michael Page, told buyers they would be surprised where in their businesses procurement talent could be found.

Speaking at this year’s CIPS Annual Conference, he said buyers should begin a “talent pipeline” by always being on the lookout for potential recruits, even when not actively employing.

“Start to identify where people have got great skills that you might be able to utilise at some point, and keep in touch with them. You’ll probably find yourself hiring from some surprising places,” he said.

During a panel discussion on recruitment, Lucas said buyers should think hard about where they might find the skills they need, and warned that many talent searches fail because firms try to reuse headhunting models “appropriate for a certain role or a certain level” across different roles. 

Paul Bestford, procurement director at the John Lewis Partnership, said when hiring he used networking site LinkedIn to find and contact mutual connections. “I’m sure I’m not the only person who does that… Find out who I know that knows them, and you have those phone conversations around what were they like,” he said.

However, Bestford said employers shouldn’t rely too heavily on social media profiles or CVs alone when looking for soft skills. “I always do pre-screening telephone conversations if nothing else,” he said. 

Bestford said the industry often looked for too many different skills in new recruits. “We want people to be fantastic executors, we want them to be really good on process and structure, we want them to be highly analytical… I think people tend to be brilliant at one or two of those things.”

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