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Transferrable Skills in Purchasing

In a previous article we discussed the level of interest in changing locations for job advancement and asked the question – how far are you willing to go to advance your purchasing career? We looked at different priorities and possibilities of relocating as far away as different parts of the world. Today, we wanted to take another look at the job changes for purchasing managers, but from a slightly different angle; instead of looking at geographic moves there is also the option of changing industries. What about taking the skills you have developed as a purchaser for one industry and transferring those into a new purchasing job for another industry?

There seems to be a disconnect between what hiring managers are looking for in a skill set and what employees believe they can deliver. A recent survey by JAM Recruitment found that 93 per cent felt they would be able to take their skill set and transfer them into a purchasing position in a new sector. Hiring managers, on the other hand, are looking for a very specific group with the necessary education, training and also experience in their sector.

Frustrations are felt from both sides. Employers have a very limited supply pool from which to hire staff, partly because of the shortage in this industry and partly because of the self-imposed limitations restricting that further to only those with experience in their sector. This problem runs deeper still because there are limited entry level positions and few internships making it extremely difficult for new college graduates to get themselves established in the purchasing industry in the sector of their choice. They may be required to take a job in one sector to gain experience and begin their life in the workforce only to find themselves pigeonholed into that sector.

So what can be done? Do you have the skills necessary to keep for jobs within the purchasing industry, but outside of your sector? It may become important to address these concerns at the very beginning of any interview process. In your cover letter and again during the interview you need to make the case of how you have been able to apply your skills in different situations in your current and how you will be more than capable of doing that again in their sector. Do your due diligence and give examples. Don’t speak out of ignorance trying to make it sound like you know something you don’t, but at the same time, you want to show how you can quickly learn and apply new things. Take the time to do your homework and comment below with what worked and what didn’t work.

July 2, 2013
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BY Bellwether
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