Thursday, March 29, 2012

Work for a midsize business? Are you considering Cloud?

IBM is conduction a free virtual event featuring nationally recognized cloud computing expert Judith Hurwitz, co-author of the best-selling Cloud Computing for Dummies. To attend log on to

Managing Your Procurement Career

While career advice is not my specialty, I had someone ask about changing industries and thought I would address that as part of an overall post on managing your career.

In current times the thought of having a job for life with one company no longer exists, so how do you best manage your career. In some of the social networks people ask about how to change industries. The simple fact is you need to prepare before you get laid off, not after. People who find themselves out of work and not able to find a job in their area of expertise because the jobs simply aren’t there and who are not successful in changing industries are usually the ones that became complacent in their job and made no effort in managing their careers. While I’m not expert in this I thought I would share advice that I have given to young people entering into the field.

When companies have management development programs they will routinely rotate people through different operations to learn them. So one of the first things I recommend is when you are in a company take different types of positions to similarly broaden your experience. For example, if you have a production focus, take a position with a service or indirect procurement focus. The reason for that is if you need to change industries, while your production experience may not relate to the new industry, those other areas usually are similar and you can apply for those types of positions to get you “foot in the door” and once hired can later move into other areas that interest you.

Unless there is high market demand for individuals with specific commodity experience, one you have learned all about a commodity, move on to another. The more commodities that you have experience with the greater the probability you will have experience in what another company needs. Avoid getting locked into managing a single commodity. It reduces your flexibility and limits your ability to get management positions that require a broader knowledge.

If you want to change companies or industries find out how they do business, what the unique issues or challenges are and seek out how you can learn about them so you can speak in their language. Network to find hiring managers so you can apply directly to them.

Expand you network. Join organizations that have cross industry participation to both make contracts and to learn from. Maintain your personal network of friends, past workers, even supplier salespeople. You never know who may have already changed to that company or that industry that can help you. If you must go the resume route, focus on skills and accomplishments not positions held. A position or job title that isn’t recognized in that industry can be an instant disqualifier.

Don’t get comfortable, after you have worked at a company for however long it takes to be vested in whatever retirement options they provide, look to change jobs. That is the best way to improve your salary. Once you are in a company you are locked into their compensation program and most compensation programs aren’t there to reward you, they are there to manage the cost. Things like vacation time can be negotiated.

Once you are over 45 to 50, don’t changes jobs unless you know the company you move to will be around for a while as the older you get and the higher you are paid the more difficult it becomes to find a job or change industries.

Learn other skills that are portable such as contract negotiation or contract management. The more value you can offer a new company, they more they will be willing to develop what you don’t have which is industry knowledge. It also puts you ahead of individual that don’t have those skills.

Always seek out a mentor or an expert you can follow. You’ll learn faster that way. No question is too dumb to ask. They didn’t always know the answer themselves.

Consider positions with medium sized or growth companies. You will be asked to do more and you will learn more as a result.

Did I follow all of these in my career? No, but wish someone had told me how when I started.