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How to Get a Job in Purchasing & Procurement

Purchasing & Procurement JobsDid you know that you can make shopping into a career? And not just as a mystery shopper or a personal shopper, though these jobs can be good as well. If you like the idea of purchasing the things that a business needs to function, then working in purchasing and procurement is probably what you want, but how do you land a job?

What is Purchasing and Procurement?

All businesses, from the local coffee shop to the big box stores need supplies and goods to sell and that means purchasing them from someone else. While all places have places where they purchase their goods, they still need people to actually do the buying and that’s where people like you come into play.

Those who work in this area not only do much of the ‘shopping’ for their store or department, but they also have to make sure that they find good deals on what their store requires in order to save the business money, negotiate deals with sellers, source raw materials, and even buy intangibles such as IT services, advertising and marketing! Whatever a business requires in order to sell whatever it is they sell, those in purchasing buy it.

Careers in this field are fun-you get to travel, you get to spend someone else’s money and you get a say in what the business will be selling-but it can also be very challenging. Whatever you do has an impact on your business’ bottom line and its reputation. You have to ensure that there is minimal waste so that profits aren’t negatively impacted and you have to purchase in such a way that it reflects positively to customers as well as the greater business. All in all, it’s a very fine juggling act.

How Do I Break Into this Field?

Still interested? How can you work in this area?

Purchasing and procurement actually has a couple of routes. The first one is to get an education that fits the work. Many colleges now offer purchasing and supply related degrees and general business degrees also tend to include some element of supply and purchasing education. This gives you a good foundation, but it’s hardly required. The other route to go is simply to show that you have good purchasing skills with good relationship and management skills while on the job. You should demonstrate that you have the ability to work with larger sums of money, that you can listen, understand and communicate everyone’s needs and a certain level of empathy. You’ll also have to show that you can manage contracts, reduce costs (without reducing the quality of what you’re purchasing) and have negotiation and social skills. It can take a lot of work to prove to employers that you can move from selling the goods to buying them, but it is certainly possible.

Breaking cold into purchasing and procurement is pretty hard; mostly because most business want people who have experience in buying and have experience in working in that particular field. It may be easier-and more logical-to start working for a company and work your way up to purchasing rather than trying to go directly into it. That way, you can really get a feel for what a business wants and needs and be a better buyer for it.

You can also sometimes find ‘junior’ positions where you don’t need nearly as much experience, but you end up working under more senior buyers. This gives you plenty of experience and lets you move up the ladder of buyers to more lucrative jobs with more responsibilities.

Working in purchasing and procurement can be incredibly rewarding; if nothing else, you get to spend someone else’s money for a while! But it can also be stressful and requires good organizational skills, negotiating skills and the ability to keep track of money. If all this sounds good to you, then getting started with a general business degree or a purchasing and procurement degree (if offered) may be a good place to start as well as pushing your skills in your workplace to get more notice. Good luck!