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How to Attract Top Talent in Today’s Fierce Ecommerce Market | DSI

“Every six months, there are new skill sets and new roles being created. Because of COVID, that has accelerated even more.”
Lauren Stiebing, Founder and CEO of LS International

In an already hot job market, the competition for experienced ecommerce talent has gotten fierce. 

Companies that want to attract top talent need to have a holistic, yet flexible recruitment strategy, says Lauren Stiebing, founder and CEO of LS International, an international executive search firm that specializes in recruitment for consumer goods companies and retailers. 

Stiebing joined a recent episode of the “Unpacking the Digital Shelf” podcast, “Winning Talent in a Competitive Market,” to share her perspective on current recruiting trends and how brands can revamp their recruitment strategy to get top-tier talent in the door sooner.

Titles Don’t Matter

Stiebing says one of the biggest trends in the market is the ever-changing nature of ecommerce jobs.

“Every six months, there are new skill sets and new roles being created. Because of COVID, that has accelerated even more,” she says.

To attract top talent, recruiters need to have a very clear understanding of each role because titles don’t completely indicate the level and scope of responsibilities of many ecommerce jobs anymore.

“Titles don’t really matter when it comes to digital because they make up new titles all the time. There are new tools coming up all the time,” Stiebing says.

Flexibility Is King

The future of work is remote and hybrid, and that’s even more true for digital and ecommerce jobs. As a headhunter, Stiebing says she’s seen an increased demand for flexibility. 

Brands that want to recruit the best talent have to embrace flexibility — and not demand employees work in the office full-time. Stiebing says if companies do have this expectation, they should be prepared to increase their compensation and benefits package.

“If you really want to have them there, you need to decide how much you are going to pay to get them there. You can get people there, but then compensation becomes much, much more important. You’re not going to get them there in the office for the same amount of money as you would to let them work flexibly.”
— Lauren Stiebing, Founder and CEO of LS International

The Power of Brand Storytelling

While money and flexibility are essential, candidates also want learning, growth, and leadership opportunities. Many of them also want to work for companies that foster a culture of innovation, but many companies don’t do a good job of telling their unique brand story during the recruitment process. 

Stiebing says brands need to be transparent with job candidates about where they are in their digital transformation journey, what they’re trying to build, how they’re trying to innovate, and how important digital is to their organization. It’s also crucial for them to be clear about the overall objectives and “mission of the job,” she says.

Several tools can help brands tell their unique story. Video-driven job descriptions and job postings can be very powerful.

“Every company has the typical company information they put on all the job descriptions and everyone can see that it’s very generic,” Stiebing says. “It’s very important for the hiring manager themselves to take time at the beginning of the search to identify what is the story they want to tell for their team — not just the company’s story, but for their team — because that’s going to be the most powerful way to attract great candidates.”

Understand What Candidates Want 

To attract top talent, employers need to understand holistically what job candidates want.

Many candidates aren’t just focused on flexibility, sustainability, and equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) are also important to them. Candidates want to work for companies that align with their values and have a clear and compelling mission.

Learning and development opportunities also are key priorities for candidates today. However, Stiebing says the challenge for many ecommerce companies is that the evolving nature of digital means there’s not always a clear path for certain roles. Still, this may provide an opportunity for continuous development and learning that’s attractive to potential candidates.

“The most attractive candidates today are the ones that can deal with ambiguity. So, I think it’s all part of that storytelling and letting them know that along the way. Candidates that are going to thrive in that environment, they like ambiguity and they want things to change in six months anyway,” Stiebing says.

Focus on Responsibilities, Not Just Experience

Companies also need to be less rigid about the years of experience required for certain roles. Stiebing says very prescriptive job descriptions often limit the candidate pool for companies. Instead of emphasizing years of experience in job postings, employers should focus on the actual responsibilities of the role and then find candidates that have these skills.

For example, rather than requiring 15 years of experience for a director-level role, companies should look at whether that particular role will require direct leadership responsibilities and managing a team, or whether it’s an individual contributor role that’s more focused on stakeholder management.

Ultimately, companies need to hone in on the tasks that need to get done to advance their organization’s digital maturity. From there, they can identify the types of skills and talent they need to execute these objectives.

Follow These Tips To Attract Top Talent 

As companies refine their ecommerce talent recruitment strategy, they also should be mindful of where and how they source talent.

Stiebing says attending digital conferences and posting on job boards are some of the easiest ways to find talent, but today’s competitive job market requires brands to go above and beyond basic recruiting practices.  

Companies need to be engaged on social media and proactively target potential candidates. They also should encourage employees to share job postings within their networks because seeing someone vouch for a specific job within their organization provides powerful social proof for candidates. 

At the same time, companies should be careful not just to recruit within their own networks, as this often leads to a less diverse candidate pool. This is where working with a recruiting firm can help, especially if they conduct talent searches internationally.  

“There are a lot of other great places to get candidates, but you need to do the pre-work to figure out where they are, which is why you need a specialist agency or a specialist recruitment team to be able to do that work,” Stiebing says.

To help companies find experienced talent, Stiebing has collaborated with Lauren Livak, director of the Digital Shelf Institute (DSI), on a one-pager focused on the questions companies should ask as they recruit talent

This resource — along with Stiebing’s valuable insights — will undoubtedly help ecommerce companies more effectively navigate today’s hyper-competitive job market, and hopefully win the war for digital talent.

To hear more of Stiebing’s best practices for recruiting ecommerce talent, check out the full episode of “Unpacking the Digital Shelf.”




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