Autumn update for UK Procurement and Supply Chain Recruitment

Written by: Justin Lewsley, Marketing Manager at Beaumont Select
Published on: 8 Oct 2021


Autumn update for UK Procurement and Supply Chain Recruitment

As we moved into August we saw a slight slowing in recruitment activity, from gentle growth in quarter one and fast growth in quarter two and three. Recruitment activity traditionally drops off significantly in the August holiday period, but this year we have seen a more moderate slowdown (largely due to ‘key decision makers’ being on leave) and we foresee demand continue to rise as we move into quarter four. However, we would suggest the termination of government furlough support in September may have some negative effect on growth as we move into the last quarter.

As ever, the most significant challenge for employers in all sectors is finding and securing the candidates with very specific procurement and supplychain skill sets they need. Finding these hard to find candidates has been hindered by an uncertain pandemic effected market, where many prospective candidates are taking a cautious approach to securing a new job unless it meets all their ‘move criteria’. The pandemic has had numerous effects on recruitment patterns but noteworthy at this time, has been very fast post lockdown economic growth, rapidly increasing demand for labour and more jobs available than suitable applicants. This has been seen across all sectors and we have undoubtedly seen this in Procurement and Supply Chain.

Good Candidates are getting harder to find.....

According to latest data from Broadbean, a leading recruitment technology company, the number of applicants per vacancy for Logistics and Supply Chain jobs fell 77% between April and June, indicating a shortage of good candidates; and we have seen this evidenced with an overall increase in demand from our Client’s, who are often coming to us after exhausting their internal recruitment processes.

In the Procurement and Supply Chain space, finding suitable candidates has become progressively more difficult as the year has progressed. Many of the best Supply Chain and Procurement candidates are likely to be occupying good roles already and some degree of caution remains among many prospective candidates, who are reluctant to move in these rather uncertain times unless the opportunity presented offers a good balance of benefits, including security, package, opportunities for development and flexible working. Post pandemic, work/life balance has undoubtedly become ever more important for many.

Ecomomic uncertainty equals a volatile and ambiguous market…..

PMI job market data from the KPMG/Markit for July, on UK jobs overall, reported “recruitment activity continued to rise sharply across the UK at the start of the third quarter. Permanent staff appointments and temp billings both rose at near-record rates, while growth of demand for staff hit a fresh series high as COVID-19 restrictions eased further and economic activity continued to pick up.”

Looking at the latest PMI job market data for August, “survey respondents widely reported constraints on business activity due to staff shortages and supply chain issues” although it also reported “strong optimism towards the business outlook contributed to the fastest rise in employment numbers since the survey began in Jan 1998.” However, August’s figures indicated a slowing of UK output, with the UK PMI Composite figure showing the slowest expansion since the UK private sector returned to growth in March, although above the crucial 50.0 no-change threshold. (UK PMI Composite index fell to 55.3 in August from 59.2 in July and the UK PMI Services index fell to 55.5 in August from 59.6 in July) Commenting on the the latest PMI data, Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit and Duncan Brock, Group Director at CIPS, suggested that the “recovery is losing momentum” and that “the accelerated levels of growth we’ve seen earlier this summer are not sustainable.”

What are you offering?.....

Companies wishing to expand their procurement and supply chain teams, will need to look closely and their offering and their candidate attraction policies to ensure they meet with the demands of the best procurement and supply chain professionals, in what is fast becoming a ‘candidate led’ market.

Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at Broadbean Technology said, “The UK job market is becoming increasingly competitive as a shortage of talent continues to be exacerbated by the spikes in hiring that most businesses are reporting. We’re currently witnessing multiple clients experiencing record low levels of job applications, leaving frustrated recruiters unable to fill critical positions.”

Interim Recruitment…..

As specialist permanent roles remain unfilled we anticipate more companies looking towards interim recruitment fulfilment. This is likely to put some upward pressure on day (or equivalent FTC) rates required to secure hard to find specialists. Some companies are offering slightly increased rates to offset the impact of roles being insider IR35 Off-Payroll regulations (we estimate about 15%) to help them secure better candidates, and we anticipate interim rates strengthening slightly overall.

As pandemic restrictions have lifted, we have seen some projects that have been kicked into the long grass, starting to be rolled out now giving rise for some specific project roles.

Somewhat surprisingly, the senior end of the interim market appears quite slow and there are still a few good Director and CPO level candidates out there looking.

Permanent Recruitment …..

There is a shortage of good candidates across almost all disciplines which is beginning to put upward pressure on salary/employment packages offered. Employers looking to recruit, need to have accurate and up-to-date recruitment market knowledge to ensure they offer a market competitive package to attract the level of candidate required in this candidate short market.

Recruitment and on-boarding processes need to be slick and candidate focused; the pandemic has made many more employees more focused on their work/life balance needs, so processes and packages offered needs to take account of these too. 

What’s in demand…..

Supplier Risk Management

Procurement specialist with solid Supplier Risk Management experience are still in vogue, particularly in the Financial Services sector, and candidates with a strong experience in fraud, quality, compliance, cost and delivery strategy and implementation are being snapped up fast.

Cloud & IT Software

Procurement specialists with solid Cloud and IT Software experience are still in demand, particularly in the Financial Services sector.

Other Categories / Areas

Increased demand in almost all areas for highly skilled procurement and supplychain professionals, with suitable category specialisations and soft skills.


Overall, it is a busy and aggressive recruitment market, with both internal and agency recruiters competing for a diminishing pool of suitably talented Procurement and Supply Chain professionals. 

Good candidates with the necessary specialist skills and category experience are harder to attract in a cautious pandemic effected market, so employers should consider carefully their attraction package and on-boarding processes to ensure they reach and attract both the best active candidates AND the best passive candidates, willing to ‘jump ship’ from secure roles.

The limited pool of active candidates in the current market will not secure employers the best candidates available, so employers recruitment process needs to embrace effective networking and headhunting techniques to reach and attract great candidates already in great jobs; and their employment package needs to be truly market competitive to ensure candidate attraction and commitment in a fast moving and highly competitive recruitment market. 

‘No Cost Recommendations’ to help secure the best candidates:

  • Good Candidates - have multiple options, what can the employer offer the candidate? It’s a two-way thing; roles and companies need to be sold!
  • Interviews - try and keep them to a minimum; if a company says it empowers employees and then needs six interviews to make a decision, this implies the opposite!
  • Flexibility in work is driving a lot of moves. How agile can the role be?
  • Time to Offer - make the process quick and seamless. If a company says it is agile demonstrate this in the interview process!

Beaumont Select Market Bulletin, Autumn 2021.

For more information please contact:

Oliver Lewsley

Recruitment Director

Tel +44 (0)1403 248 448


Check out the latest Procurement & Supply Chain jobs from Beaumont Select - click here