eCommerce Hiring Guide

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Five Fundamentals to Great Hires (Without the Headaches)

As an industry, eCommerce moves at lightning speed with constantly changing dynamics. Sales can occur 24/7, so too can problems. And the number of variables that affect your business seems to grow each year, as does the industry itself. 

If you’re running a healthy eCommerce business, it often doesn’t feel healthy. It often feels like a whirlwind.

Clients, customers, investors, partners, and employees all need a slice of your time. Every item you cross off your to-do list is replaced by two new urgent ones. Each day is a sprint to manage your existing business. Meanwhile you know you’re missing out on opportunities to grow. 

eCommerce can be a never-ending, 24/7 whirlwind.

You know you need to hire -- you’ve opened the jobs and posted job descriptions -- but with a million other things to manage, hiring can easily slip down to the bottom of your to-do list. And even if it doesn’t, posting jobs, screening resumes, and managing the back-and-forth with candidates can feel like a chore rather than a meaningful input into your business. 

Before you know it, weeks pass, and you still don’t have the talent you need.

You may even start to rush in your hiring decisions, bringing in folks because you just need “a butt in the seat.” This results in people who can’t deliver, compounding the stress as you’re now over-investing time in coaching and managing an underperforming team just so you’re not missing goals.

Why does this happen? Well for many companies, hiring is a haphazard endeavor. You know you need someone. You think you know what you’re looking for, but there isn’t really a deliberate strategy in how you plan on get and ultimately assess candidates. 

The reality is that hiring and recruiting is a combination of employing best practices from sales and marketing, except in this case the product you are selling is your open job and the customers are the talented people you want to hire.

Can you really expect to sell a product without a well-executed sales strategy and marketing plan?

No you can’t. And it’s why so many companies struggle with finding the talent they need for their business. 

But there’s a better way and it starts with 5 easy fundamentals that can help consistently produce the talent your business depends on:

Do a job analysis to define your ideal candidate profile

  1. Do a job analysis to define your ideal candidate profile
  2. Know the market
  3. Develop an outreach strategy
  4. Have your hiring process dialed in
  5. Be invested in the process

Let’s dig into these a little more...

Do a job analysis to define your ideal candidate profile

Look if you’re operating from a “I know it when I see it” mindset, you’re already setting yourself up for failure in the hiring process.

Being thoughtful about what success looks like in a role is extremely important as it provides key inputs to your recruitment strategy (who are we looking for?) and defines your hiring criteria (who’s going to be successful in the role?). 

Here are three questions every hiring managers need to ask when doing a job analysis:

  1. What needs to be accomplished? Begin by defining what needs to be done. What does this person need to accomplish and deliver? What metrics are they responsible for? How does this role impact the team/company/your goals? How quickly does the person need to deliver results? Understanding what needs to be accomplished will bring clarity on job responsibilities and the scope of the role.  
  2. How are those things going to be accomplished?  Next define what specific actions a person needs to take to be successful. Is the person building a team? Do they need to cultivate relationships? Or are they heads down analyzing data? Understanding the specific things one need accomplish will uncover the types of experiences you want to observe from a candidate.
  3. What kind of situation is the person coming into? Next, think deeply about the types of situations this person will encounter. How does company culture impact success? How does the team operate and make decisions? What kind of support or infrastructure is available? What makes your rockstars so successful? What causes people to fail? Understanding the situation will define key characteristics a candidate must exhibit when being evaluated.

Remember that garbage in (vague job requirements) equals garbage out (low quality candidates and bad hiring decisions). 

Know the market

Once you have an ideal candidate profile the next step is to better understand the candidate pools that may exist in your market.

A good market analysis will scope out the size of the potential candidate pools, whether there is alignment on compensation expectations, evaluate the best places to engage candidates (i.e. LinkedIn, job boards, Facebook etc.), and uncover what candidates care about.

Ultimately the goal of a market analysis is to provide insights on the likelihood of filling your role under the timeline you need, and if not, decide whether you should adjust your ideal candidate profile, come up with alternative work arrangements, or create incentives for attracting the candidate you want.

For example, let’s say you want a specialist, but the only available candidate pool is less than 100 people scattered nationally and none remotely close to your city. In a case like this you could drastically improve the chances of finding someone by offering flexibility to work remotely.

While the above is an extreme example, if you are having trouble finding talent, consider what the market looks like for your ideal candidate profile, how narrow the pool is, and what candidates care about. These three factors will impact your recruitment strategy.  

Develop an outreach strategy

There’s a common adage to go “fishing where the fish are biting." This is especially true in recruiting where there are multiple channels to engage candidates. 

As they say, make sure you're fishing where the fish are biting.

In developing your outreach strategy you’ll want to know where the candidates are and where they are most likely to engage to choose the most effective channels.

Here are some of the most common channels and maybe even a few you’re not leveraging:

  • Job Boards: While job boards are a great resource, they often only attract active job seekers, eliminating a much larger pool of passive folks. Especially for highly specialized roles with small candidate pools this means that just “posting and praying” is unlikely to result in hiring the talent you need.  Another consideration is that job boards often attract different audiences. Some are very general, but have great SEO (Indeed) or distribution (ZipRecruiter), while there are others that are very niche and specific to an industry.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the largest social network of professionals. LinkedIn has specific tools that recruiters often leverage to access large talent pools. Often this involves personalized messaging/outreach and can be extremely manual.
  • Facebook and other social media: A newer medium with sophisticated targeting capabilities. It’s a great way to build an engaged audience with the candidate pool you’re looking to engage.
  • Forums: When you’re looking for specialized talent, online forums catering to specific domains can be a fertile place to identify candidates. This is commonly done in technology with recruiters using sites like Stack Overflow or Github to identify candidates but you could also apply this to fields like digital marketing, business analysis, etc.
  • Meetups: Don’t forget that just because our world is increasingly digital that there aren’t IRL opportunities to meet candidates. Meetups can be a way to meet passionate about a subject matter.
Have your hiring process dialed in

A good hiring process will always start by establishing alignment between yourself and your recruiting partner on your ideal candidate profile. An effective recruiting partner should be helping you understand the market and deciding the best outreach strategy. Having alignment early in the process will help increase your chances of success.

Staying aligned throughout the process is also extremely important. Having regular check-ins to review and provide feedback on a recruiter’s screening notes is extremely important to staying aligned. Since hiring is an iterative process, having frequent check-ins also allows your recruiting partner to adjust as you learn new data points and/or the business needs change.

Finally having your hiring process dialed in means knowing who is interviewing, why they are interviewing, and what they are assessing for in the interview. Logistically there’s someone on point so that candidates aren’t left hanging.

​Ever make a hire with someone you love and they rejected that offer? Remember a candidate is evaluating you as much as you are evaluating them.

Clumsy interactions with a candidate can reflect poorly on the team and impact your ability to close on your ideal candidate. Cumbersome process can also result in your team losing out on top talent who are likely interviewing at multiple places.

Be invested in the process, not just the outcomes

Finally the biggest piece of the puzzle is always you, the hiring manager. Frankly, if you aren’t invested in the process, why are you hiring?

What does being invested mean? Well, if you have a recruiting partner It means being available to provide feedback, making time for the interview process, and setting the right expectations for the hiring process.

If you’re carrying the weight of hiring on your shoulders alone then it can be very hard to succeed. Which is not to say it can’t be done, but you need to make a significant investment. We suggest two things if this is you:

Follow the simple checklist below
Find an experienced recruiting partner

Hiring fundamentals checklist:

  1. Job analysis - If I hire, what results do I expect? To get these results, what will someone do? 
  2. Ideal candidate profile(s) - How would I like someone to get these results?
  3. Market analysis - Are 1 and 2 realistic? If yes, continue. If no, go back to 1
  4. Outreach strategy - What do these people care about, where will I find them, and how will I engage them?
  5. Assessment strategy - How will I know whether or not to hire any give candidate?

If you have questions about implementing any of the hiring fundamentals, don’t hesitate to Contact Us

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If you’re struggling to find the talent you need to grow your business, our service works with you to conduct a thorough job analysis to better understand your ideal candidate. 

We then provide you with market insights to better understand the candidate pools you want to attract. 

We develop and manage the outreach strategy with candidates. 

As candidates apply, we’ll guide you through hiring best practices, be available to review candidate attributes (both the positives and risks), and handle candidate communications. 

Grow your team quickly, and with peace of mind when you implement these 5 fundamental hiring practices. Here is a case study for what it looks like in action.

If you’re sick of where you are at, and you are ready to make a core competency of your organization, I invite you to get in touch to see if we can help grow your team.

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