Rules of attraction

2 February 2010
No excuse for foot-dragging: December’s SM100 poll showed most buyers think the procurement industry needs to be better at attracting talent. But how can the profession entice young people and show them procurement is thriving and offers unique, diverse opportunities? It’s time to invigorate supply chain management with the energy and enthusiasm graduates instinctively bring. Critics will question how you can expect to attract high calibre, well-qualified graduates to procurement, competing against established trainee schemes with overwhelming reputations. The good news: for today’s top graduate talent, it’s not always about the money. Graduates are at the forefront of issues relating to sustainability, the environment and the human impact on both. They’re looking for a career which engages them. The lure of big brands and big benefits are a thing of the past. Now, more than ever, graduates are using every tool available to follow the career that they want, rather than the one they think they should. Certain niches have quickly become attractive, such as sustainable procurement or the buyer’s role in corporate social responsibility.  So what can you do to sell procurement and supply chain as an attractive career choice? Here are some things you can learn from the approach of leading recruiters:  • Establish precisely what you want from a graduate (what, why, when). • Write an employer value proposition (EVP) to define what graduate employment in your organisation will mean. Why should this graduate apply, and what will you do for them when they do? • Design a formal recruitment process and development programme. It’s important you have all the hallmarks of an outstanding employer because recruitment and development is an area where many first perceptions are formed.  • Consider a university visit or contact with students via specific publications to market your EVP. Could you open direct channels via social networking? The notion that people buy from people can be applied to jobs, too. • Monitor your effectiveness after your first recruitment cohort. Have checks and balances, reviewing, revising and refining where appropriate. Note the three golden rules: regular reviews and mentoring; senior stakeholder support; and communication. The first is critical. Check they are fulfilled and feed back to them. Senior stakeholders who believe in the value a graduate proposition would bring to the division are invaluable. Lastly, communication: tell the business what graduates are doing and the value they are delivering. It’s worth getting it right: graduates start out as colleagues but may end up future leaders of your profession.
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