Procurement's internal reputation is a hot (and hotly debated) topic. Recent years have seen the department's standing improve. What were once backroom purchasing teams have become fully strategic business partners and agents for change.

Getting internal stakeholders on-board, however, is just one part of the battle. Procurement still has to attract applicants and inspire them to stick around and see the department through its next era. The incoming wave of young talent has more options than any generation before it. For Procurement to differentiate itself, it will need to establish and communicate a new, more compelling value proposition. Check out Source One's tips for communicating the value and potential of Procurement's brand.

1. Align Internally
Before Procurement can communicate its value, it needs to internally codify what its value is. An inconsistent, imprecise, or incomplete argument won't impress a leading applicant. Everyone who touches any portion of the hiring process has to align and communicate freely with one another. This will not only keep messaging consistent, but will ensure that efforts are amended as necessary. Messaging should focus on the company's history, mission, and vision while emphasizing (wherever possible) Procurement's critical importance.

2. Emphasize Agility and Flexibility
It's entirely possible that your applicant still associates Procurement with rigidity, compliance, and purchase orders. Take pains to disabuse them of this idea throughout the recruiting and interview process. Your listings should speak to the new, more nuanced role Procurement plays within organizations. Your interviews should include discussions of diverse engagements and challenging initiatives. Millennial applicants are hungry for surprising and dynamic careers. It's up to Procurement hiring managers to remind everyone how well their field fits the bill.

3. Be Aggressive
Procurement needs to build the business case for itself. This is true both internally and externally. Ensure that Procurement exercises the same determination in recruiting that it reserves for chasing down cost savings and efficient supplier relationships. Posting to a job board won't cut it anymore. Procurement teams should supplement their recruiting efforts with visits to colleges, career fairs, and other relevant events. Putting a human face on supply management, your team will not only directly interface with promising candidates, but will also help refute the idea that Procurement is a hidden or obscure function.

4. Take the Lead on Ethics and Sustainability 
Young consumers and professionals are discerning when it comes to ethics. They won't purchase from a company they consider untrustworthy, and they're even less likely to work for such a company. Procurement is perfectly positioned to emphasize sustainable practices across the supply chain. In addition to spearheading these efforts, they should emphasize them throughout the recruitment process. Socially-conscious organizations love to emphasize their practices. Procurement should feel comfortable doing the same. Don't just explain how green your company is. Make the extra effort to underline Procurement's role in making it green.

5. Build Career Paths
It's important for employers to communicate their investment in each applicant's future. Discussing career paths during interviews is an easy way to show this investment. Internally, work to develop a clear trajectory for Procurement hires. Introduce it to applicants and make it clear that their investment and efforts will earn recognition and advancement. If your applicant feels like a part of something, they're far more likely to accept the position and grow with your organization.

Procurement certainly faces a talent gap. That doesn't mean the gap needs to keep getting wider. Taking the right steps to refine and communicate Procurement's brand could help your organization start narrowing the gap and building the right team. Looking for more help? Contact the Procurement recruitment and staffing team at Source One today

Want to learn more about Procurement's brand. Make sure to check out Orchestrating a Procurement Transformation: A Symphony of Recruiting, Branding, and Leading and Procurement's Internal Image Problem at ISM2018. Co-hosted by experts from Source One, both discussions will offer insights for emphasizing Procurement's value and establishing a world-class function.
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