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How did FitForCommerce’s Recruiting Service come about?  

It actually happened organically – our clients were finding it challenging to find the right talent and were coming to us for recommendations. Since we know the retailers, their strategies (and often help them define their strategies), their goals and their culture, it only seemed a natural extension to also help them find the right talent.

Why is the right talent so important?

You need more than technology to grow your business; you need people. Highly-skilled, highly-motivated, smart, hard-working people – who understand and internalize your goals and who are also a good cultural fit for your organization.

What have been your key learnings so far?

Good question – there are so many! But I think I can sum up the most important into three: honesty, diligence and open-mindedness.

What do you mean by honesty?

Most importantly – don’t sugarcoat anything! It’s really important to give a complete and honest profile of your company – the culture, the role, the opportunity and your expectations. If you paint an overly-pretty picture, you risk that candidates will be disappointed – and you won’t be able to fool them for long. If you’re completely honest, you’ll hire someone who is prepared and even energized by the challenges. It’s also important to be honest about the company culture. Don’t say you want an “agent of change”, if you aren’t really going to support that. That candidate will always feel like a square peg in a round hole.

The same goes for investments. Don’t entice someone by promising big plans for capital investment, hiring a team, etc., if you are not really committed to doing that. It’s fine if investment is not in your plans – but you need to say that up front. In the end, they’ll be disappointed and frustrated … and will probably leave. That is a waste of time for everyone involved.

And what about diligence?

Do your due diligence on all possible scenarios, not just the usual stuff. Dig deep into their management capabilities. Be sure to get at least one reference from someone who reported to the candidate. Do “back door” reference checks, when possible. This is important, not just because you want the candidate to be an effective manager, but because you don’t want your good employees to quit because you’ve hired someone who ends up being a bad manager.

Dig deep into what the candidate REALLY wants versus what they say they want. Sometimes, candidates are so eager to get an offer that they are not honest enough about what they are looking for (role, compensation, culture, level, etc.). Again, that will lead to disappointment and, potentially, the new hire resigns after precious time has been wasted.

And dig deep on the relocation issue – multiple times! Even if the spouse is saying “yes! I would love to move to XYZ town/state” – push harder. More than one deal has fallen apart after the job acceptance because, when the reality hits, it turns out the spouse doesn’t really want to move. Invest in a trip for the candidate and spouse to your town; chat with him/her yourself.

What do you mean when you say open-mindedness?

Try not to have a fixed image of your ideal candidate. Digital commerce and omnichannel is constantly evolving and that makes an apples-to-apples comparison of job levels/titles/expertise challenging. A Director of Ecommerce at a billion-dollar multichannel retailer is not the same as Director of Ecommerce at a $50 million one.  Someone who owns all of ecommerce at a smaller company might become frustrated at trying to “influence manage” and achieve goals in a complex, matrixed organization.

Look at the candidate’s experience, level of responsibility and “soft skills” to determine what role or level they will fit in in your organization. Focus on the roles and responsibilities and culture – and not the titles.

Being in sync with respect to your culture and your goals/strategy is more important than having every box on the “dream candidate requirements” list checked. Expect that the right candidate can learn or hire for some of the “nice to have’s” on the list.

And be open-minded. If this person isn’t exactly what you had in mind, it doesn’t mean that is not a great fit. Maybe you have an image based too much on the previous person in the role or an “ideal” that doesn’t exist. Maybe someone who might shake things up a little would be good. Maybe not.

Any last thoughts?

Building the right organization is about more than just hiring the right people – you need to have the right structure in place, the right processes and the right tools. This is a huge undertaking and in this ever-changing industry, having a partner that knows the industry and, more importantly, your organization, goes a long way.

Looking for great talent? Looking for a new gig?