Layout is always high on the list of priorities when it comes to creating an attention grabbing procurement resume. The reader should be able to find information readily and the presentation of the document is key to this being possible. Having reviewed thousands of supply chain and procurement related resumes in my time in recruitment, I can honestly say that layout needs to be your number one priority and should gear the resume towards the presentation of your best achievements and most impressive responsibilities held during your career.
Many job seekers opt for an executive summary or profile at the top of the resume. This is absolutely fine however DO NOT get this wrong as this is the preface to the entire document. It should be no longer than a paragraph and you should avoid ending statements such as "looking for a role in travel procurement category management". The main reason for this is down to the fact that the reader may currently be recruiting for a role in travel category management however 6 months down the line is considering restructuring the department to broaden the category portfolio responsibility and may feel that the candidate would be averse to this due to the ending statement. This is purely an example, however you should leave articulating your career aspirations until the interview or include these details in your covering letter which is tailored for the position.
Try to incorporate some of your biggest achievements into your opening profile with plenty of quantifiable data e.g. MBA qualified senior procurement executive with 20 years’ experience within the finance and banking industry leading teams of up to 30 indirect reports and portfolio spend of up to $1.3 billion. In one fell swoop you have provided the reader with an idea of your level of education, number of years’ experience, sector specific background, size of teams managed and spend under control. Two or three sentences covering your responsibilities and biggest achievements should suffice to create a captivating opening statement.
Another tip for resume layout is to play to your strengths -by that I am referring to the fact that if you are educated to MBA or Masters Level, or have a function specific Degree(s) then bring these to the forefront of the resume. A brief section for educational qualifications underneath Profile/Executive Summary will suffice. This could be particularly important for a recent graduate who has 6 months’ work experience but 4 years study in the procurement area - education can take on more of a priority than professional experience in such a case. If, however you do not possess any tertiary qualifications, you should bring your practical professional experience to the forefront and leave any reference to education towards the end of the document.
I have read claims that the reviewer of a resume will make a subconscious decision on candidate suitability for a given position within 6 seconds of opening/picking up the document. Although this may seem harsh, it goes without saying that if a role advertisement has generated 200 responses then it is more than likely the reviewer will not be reading all the content of each and every resume. This makes the opening page even more important.
We have explored the creation of a concise opening statement with plenty of impact and the promotion of significant educational qualifications on the front page, now let's consider a career summary.
Career summaries are a great way to provide the reader with immediate access to what your most recent role has been, how your career has gone to date, and should demonstrate a consistent increase in level of responsibility up until your current role. Times when career summaries should be avoided include recent graduates (for obvious reasons) and potentially interim contracts specialists. An interim contract project manager for instance may have worked at 20 or more companies in the last 5 years and therefore listing all the individual contracts in one list becomes exactly that - a list and not a summary! For an interim specialist or even a project manager it could be worth considering listing key competencies or areas of specialty - I would even recommend tailoring the resume further towards the opening by aligning all the contracts/projects that are most relevant - For instance "Examples of Strategic Transformation
Having invested time in developing these areas of your front page, the reader now knows where you have worked, your level of education (if appropriate), some of your greatest achievements and is becoming well equipped to assess your suitability for the position ...... quickly!
Another point on layout is the age old question of how long the resume should be. The simple answer is the document should be long enough to include everything of relevance to the position you are applying for. Really focus on what you have achieved in the last 5 years, however if a role you executed 8 years prior is highly relevant (either due to specific industry sector or responsibilities) then develop this further. You should really be including just key highlights in
terms of overall responsibility and achievements from your early career. If the last time you updated your resume was 6 years ago, then avoid simply adding to the document. The reason for this is times have moved on and your primary focus is what has happened in these last 6 years. By adding to the old version you will essentially be making the document unnecessarily lengthy and should first trim down the previous version always remembering to quantify responsibility and achievements to build credibility.
Resumes should always be in reverse chronological order (seems logical?) as this highlights your most recent experience early in the document. I would always recommend including a brief description on the size, scope and nature of a business you have worked for. Yes, if you worked for 10 years with a leading
bank then of course a resume reviewer from another bank is likely to be well informed on the company you have worked for. However, what happens if you decide to apply for a role in another industry sector or if the resume reviewer is overseas and knows nothing of your organisation?
Then comes the role title, responsibilities and achievements. Procurement is an area where even the same job titles can have different degrees of focus and responsibility from one company to the next. You should leave the reader in no doubt as to the scope of your role/department/team/project. Never duplicate your job description on the resume... this is obvious to the reader. You can however use your job description as a point of reference to ensure you haven't missed any key areas of responsibility.
The trick around resume content is to include everything that is relevant but to leave enough for you to articulate further at an interview. Remember, you should easily be able to expand upon anything included on your resume at interview. Therefore, for any key achievements (most likely around strategic sourcing/spend reduction/ process formulation and optimisation/ stakeholder engagement/vendor management etc) you should be able to take the interviewer through the exact steps taken by you and the team. This last point is quite resounding since it never looks good to take sole credit for achievements that were part of a wider departmental/organisational agenda with many people involved. It's absolutely fine to outline the parameters that you and your team drove to achieve a desired outcome if the contribution was significant to overall success.
Do not write resumes in third person sense e.g. "Stephen drove improved supplier engagement through....". This gives the appearance the resume was concocted by another individual. In the same breath it is worth mentioning you should avoid using "I" frequently. In the previous example the sentence could start with "Improved supplier engagement through...".
We can debate all day long about what makes an outstanding procurement resume, however the main determining factor around the strength of a resume is what we are benchmarking the document against - i.e. the role to which the resume is being put forward. You could have a really strong general procurement resume that details everything we have reviewed above, but when we look at the resume against a specific role it lacks depth in certain areas or spends too much time focusing on non value added topics. If a job seeker is sitting down to write their resume, then as much as they should focus on what they have achieved to date, they should also consider what types of roles they will be interested in that meet their aspirations. Ensure you demonstrate the desired criteria and experience in your resume document for these types of positions. This will also strengthen your resume's searchability in recruitment systems and it will also help you to concoct a strong LinkedIn profile that can be found by headhunters searching for candidates against a role that fits your aspirations.
If there are only two things you should take away from this article then it should be layout and quantifiable data - these two things will ensure the resume is eye catching and leaves the reader in no doubt as to your level of capability.