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Finding, hiring and keeping hold of e-commerce specialists has never been more competitive, but traditional recruitment consultants can be both expensive and unreliable. From tweeting your way to the top candidates, to ignoring cover letters from applicants, when you’re fishing for the best digital talent in the startup jobs market, it's wise to use surprising tactics that could help significantly increase your e-commerce turnover.
Who to employ first? Matthew Bertulli, Co-Founder and CEO of Demac Media recommends starting with an experienced e-commerce manager or director, and hiring a team out under them. But keep it lean, and keep it tactical. A carefully chosen core team of just 5-8 people can have a direct and measurable impact on scaling your e-commerce business. It may sound small, but harnessing the combined digital power of sales, IT, marketing and finance can help the profits roll in.
If you’re running an e-commerce startup, perform a ‘skills audit’ – and hire the relevant people as you go along. The advice from Econsultancy is to identify the future competencies you need for growth. So, if you’re focused on growing direct sales from your website for example, employ someone with proven email marketing experience. Or, if you need to rise up the Google listings, hire an ecommerce SEO specialist.
When you put together a job spec, make a list of ‘definitely needs’ and also ‘nice-to-haves’. If you meet a great candidate who is 75-85% on brief, grab them. You can always develop their skills further within your company. Leading digital recruiters Digital Six recommends looking for an e-commerce professional with skills across many areas.
A basic understanding of website development and analysis, a sound knowledge of e-commerce business models and performance, and experience of processes such as online orders, payments and fulfillment, are all employable assets. A good grasp of marketing tools – and the wider principles of marketing – could be a real bonus. If you want to focus on growth, it’s important to understand digital marketing tactics like banner advertising, Pay Per Click (PPC) and social media.
Ask colleagues and ex-colleagues. Ask friends, local colleges and your own employees. Networking within your industry and word of mouth recommendations are still one of the most trusted ways for small to medium-size business owners to find talented employees who can add value to their e-commerce team structure.
According to a recent survey, 53% of potential candidates will look at the company's website before applying for a role, and 38% will look for your company page on LinkedIn. So update these regularly to highlight new jobs and career openings, and to flag up that you are successful, you are growing – and you are hiring. If you run Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts for your business, make sure they are refreshed and current. A visibly active online presence can go a long way in attracting bright sparks to join your e-commerce team.
Before you even start interviewing, set out how your e-commerce team will fit into the wider business, and how you want it to evolve. You’ll need to tell candidates where you want to take the business – and how you expect them to help you get there.
Confirm communication and reporting lines between team members, and define responsibilities and objectives for each role. From departmental heads to office managers, keeping things clear for new starters and existing staff will make your hirings a success.
If a candidate looks amazing on paper, use the interview to explore their work attitude and values. They might be great at their job, but if they don’t fit in with your team or company culture you could be storing up months of misery for everyone. Likewise, it may be exciting to hook a big fish, but beware of the ‘culture shock’ it can create in your smaller business pond.
An e-commerce director who’s used to generous budgets and unlimited resources may not understand your business’s constraints, and could prove to be an expensive mistake. It’s also worth remembering that heavyweight candidates might look impressive, but they may never have started small, or learned how to take a company up to the next level.
According to Econsultancy, you shouldn't dismiss enthusiastic graduates who directly approach your company with ideas to improve your website, Facebook page or Google search.
Junior hires can bring buckets of enthusiasm and passion, and add a cost-effective sparkle to your more experienced team. You can find (and advertise for) the digital stars of the future on Hubspot and Snapchat.
When cash flow is an issue (and when isn’t it?) think about who you can afford to employ now, and who can wait. If you go for freelancers or contractors you can instantly add specialist skills to your in-house team without the full-time overheads. Sites such as Fiverr can help you outsource specific tasks to local talent.
You could also consider sharing the workload on a part-time basis for a few hours or days a week, or take advantage of digital connectivity by offering opportunities to work remotely. For time-consuming tasks such as transportation and fulfillment, you can rely on partners like DHL.
Whatever you do, be ready to move quickly when you find The One (preferably within 5 days of interview) or you could risk missing out. It can also be a good idea to ask new joiners to agree to a three-month probation to protect you from a hiring mistake.
Finally, make sure your company culture will keep your new e-commerce people happy and engaged. Forbes reports that a plump wage packet is no longer enough, so connect them with your business aims right from the start, and make them feel valued. Then look forward to watching them build on your success.