Purchasing Agent – Everything a Procurement Professional Should Know

In the world of procurement, the purchasing agent is another job title that has its own share of mysteries. However, it is also on the rise right now as one of the most profitable job titles in the procurement world. 

It’s for this reason alone that we are going to talk about the purchasing agent. With this article, we are going to define the responsibilities of the purchasing agent, learn all about its salaries, skill requirements, and salary range.

After reading this article, you should now have a clear picture of what a purchasing agent does in the Procurement department and are ready to apply for the said position!

The Purchasing Agent Defined

In the world of procurement alone, there are probably around a hundred or more job titles to consider and choose carefully. You have procurement managers, sourcing analysts, and the purchasing agent. Also known as buyers or purchasers, the role of the purchasing agent is to act and work closely with the purchasing manager. These guys are responsible for evaluating and negotiating with the suppliers.

So if you’re a procurement officer yourself, you’ll see or have dealt with a lot of purchasing agents in the past. These people are supposed to have a keen eye for determining the best supplier in terms of standards, cost-effectiveness, and dependability.

Editor's note:

Hi there! My name is Marijn Overvest, I'm the founder of Procurement Tactics.
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The Responsibilities of the Purchasing Agent

As a purchasing agent, you won’t be working closely with the purchasing manager all day. You also have other duties and responsibilities to perform.

Some of those responsibilities include the following:

  • Researching and comparing suppliers, goods, and services.
  • Select the most suitable suppliers in terms of reliability, product quality, and cost-efficiency.
  • Monitoring inventory levels and determining purchase needs.
  • Requesting cost proposals and negotiating contracts and prices.
  • Preparing and processing purchase orders.
  • Maintaining records of all transactions, purchase orders, receipts, and payments.
  • Scheduling and verifying purchase deliveries.
  • Building and maintaining positive, long-term supplier relations.

Salary Rate and Requirements

Purchasing agents enjoy a considerable salary rate, starting at $66,000.  Meanwhile, their purchasing managers have a higher salary rate, at around $125,940 per year.

If you’re excited about the salary rate, then you should be. As of last year, procurement remains a strong industry and it should remain that way throughout 2022. Overall employment of purchasing managers and buyers and purchasing agents is projected to decline 7 percent from 2019 to 2029.

The outsourcing and automation of less complex procurement functions are among contributing factors causing employment declines for these occupations.

However, employment for purchasing managers is projected to increase because they will continue to be needed to help procure goods and services for business operations or for resale to customers.

Given the case, you’re probably excited to learn how to become a purchasing agent. Here are the requirements that you need to have in order to become one:

  • High school diploma or GED required.
  • Degree in business administration, procurement, or a related field preferred.
  • Previous experience as a purchasing agent or in a similar position.
  • Proficiency in CRM and inventory management software programs.
  • Excellent communication and negotiation skills.
  • Strong organization and documentation skills.
  • Strong research and analytical skills.

Purchasing Agent Interview Questions

You’ve already checked the requirements and you are definitely sure that you want to be a purchasing agent. You immediately submit your resume and a few days later, you get a message and an appointment for an interview. 

You are excited but nervous at the same time. You begin to wonder what you should be answering once the interview starts. 

Don’t worry about that because we got you covered.

Always expect that companies will be employing difficult but fair questions to assess if you can do the job. 

A helpful tip would be to get yourself familiarized with the STAR method. If you’re not familiar with the STAR method, it’s the acronym that stands for the following:

Situation: Setting the scene and then give the details of your example

Task: Describing what you need to do during that situation

Action: This means your explanation on what were the steps you took to address the problem.

Result: Share what the outcome was for the actions you achieved

That said, it’s now time to review some of the most common questions that you might encounter during your purchasing agent interview:

1. “If there’s a Need to Buy Equipment that’s Beyond Company’s Budget, What Will be Your Take?”

Scenario: For this question, the interviewer is trying to check on how good you are at managing a critical situation while ensuring that the project receives everything that it needs.

How to Answer: First, explain the importance of proper resource planning. Make sure to list down the techniques needed to handle the requests.

2. “Explain the Purchasing Process?”

Scenario: This question is often asked to assess if you are familiar with the general purchasing process.

How to Answer: Enlist every step. However, do not start explaining each step unless it is required by the interviewer.

3. “What Negotiation Skills and Tactics Do You Possess?”

Scenario: This is often asked by most interviewers. Negotiation is always an important aspect of becoming a procurement manager, so your skills and negotiation tactics will be required once you are chosen for the role.

How to Answer: Explain the factors that negotiation depends on. Remember to list down the important skills and negotiation tactics to show your expertise.

4. “What are Some Important Procurement Metrics?”

Scenario: This is a question that will test your understanding of key procurement metrics and how you intend to use them,

How to Answer: Explain the factors that performance metrics depend on. List down some of the standard procurement metrics that you know and follow.

FAQs

What is a purchasing agent?

A purchasing agent is someone who negotiates and facilitates the buying of supplies/services.

Is purchasing agent different from a buyer?

From a procurement perspective, they are the one and the same

Why is a purchasing agent important?

A purchasing agent is needed in order for the company to buy and negotiate for supplies at the best price and quality possible.

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