Regardless what they do, all companies need goods and services to do their activities and these products have to be bought. Buying is the activity of getting something by paying money for it. Some companies delegate these functions to buying professionals because they know the market and have knowledge of the prices, offers, etc. Companies usually have several buying positions available as: purchasing agents, purchasing managers, buyers. Let’s talk a little about them.
But first it is important to define the function of each one of them. The difference between purchasing managers and purchasing agents is clear, purchasing managers are one position above from agents, in fact managers direct agents. But the confusion is usually between purchasing agents and buyers, people they think they do the same, and as a matter of fact that is not completely wrong, the function of they both is to buy products on behalf of the company they work for, however the difference is on what they buy, purchasing agents buy products which will be later used by the company while buyers buy products which will be later resell.
They are the professionals in charge of the acquisition of all the company needs (products or services). These professionals have to take care of the company’s interests, for this reason, they have to bargain with contractors and supplier in order to get a good price. Purchasing workers have to:
- Buy high-quality products and services without spending too much money.
- Keep updated of the latest price change.
- Be aware of what the best products and services are.
- Be persuasive and excellent negotiators.
- Also, some companies ask their workers to be multilingual, since they will have to travel abroad or to negotiate with people from other countries.
Usually to get a job as purchasing agent, a bachelor’s degree in business, economics, finances or a related field is required. Experience in the field (purchasing or sales) is also required. However, professionals who want to apply to purchasing manager positions are asked to have a master’s degree in any of the related field. That is because they have more responsibilities than purchasing agents or buyers, they the head of the purchasing department and as it was mentioned before; they have to supervise and direct buyers and purchasing agents.
For workers involved in the buying field, it is recommendable to join at least a purchasing association, being part of an association will give a bonus to your resume because they constantly offer important information about the field, training courses and career opportunities. Some of the most important associations are:
- The Institute of Supply Management (ISM).
- The National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP).
- The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP).
Below we offer you some examples of resumes in the three buying specializations mentioned in the text.