Hat tip to MakeMyMood.com
ATLANTA, GA - As most of my readers know, I look at 50 to 60 ecommerce resumes every day. It's incredible. Many of the best candidates have the worst resumes, and many of the worst candidates have the best resumes.
Perhaps that's because the best candidates are hard at work creating value for their companies, while the lesser candidates are busy worrying about their next gig. I'm not picking on the lesser candidates when I say this, but it does stand to reason that a lesser candidate will be less focused on creating value in their current situation.
Don't you agree?
Anyway, the Internet Retailer Top 500 community is fairly small. By small, I mean that there are no more than 5000 candidates who make up my space. "But Harry," you say, "Anyone can go to Tracked.com and see that Amazon.com has 24,000 employees, and Amazon is just one company."
Indeed, Buckwheat. But when I quote the number 5000, I am referring to ecommerce general managers who would normally be expected to do three things in a transactional ecommerce job:
Oh, and maybe they'd be required to manage technology integrations. Of these GM's, I'd say there are 5000, and I'm sure that's being generous.
So here's the thing: I have been an ecommerce recruiter for six years now, so it's natural that over the years I have seen the same candidates come through my inbox several times. Let's say that the average job tenure in the IR-500 is two years.
That means that I have seen the average ecommerce candidate work through a normal job cycle three times, and there's nothing wrong with that. These are not job hoppers. These are solid performers who are climbing a career latter with the rungs spaced two years apart.
Some of these candidates I have placed twice. Most of these candidates I have never placed.
What do the winning ecommerce candidates do with the losers don't? I could write a book on this topic, and maybe someday I will. But basically, it boils down to this: my most effective candidates understand that by nature, I am a marketer and a storyteller. Those things are in my DNA.
What's your selling story?
The best e-tail candidates help me understand what's unique about them, and we collaborate very effectively to develop their strategies for specific searches -- based on their self-knowledge, and my knowledge of the client. Clearly, this is not a cookie cutter approach. For each search, we are able to come up with a selling story for the candidate that is ...
All of my best candidates were new to me at one time.
Remember that. At one point, all of these etail candidates were strangers to me. But pretty quickly, they had a way to connect with me and make me see their value.
How did they do that?
Lots of ways: Strong references. Great companies on their resume. Marketable job titles (versus highly specialized, obscure ones). Excellent use of key metrics. And more.
But one of the best ways to immediately demonstrate your effectiveness as an ecom general manager is to simply put live URLs in your resume. It's really that simple.
Show and Sell ...
If you have worked with Best Buy as a Director of Online Merchandising, then add the domain BestBuy.com to your resume in every single section where it is relevant. With big sites, you might want to include live links to any micro sites or special subdomains that you have developed for your employer.
Basically, I want to be able to just click through your resume and understand very quickly if the underlying sites that you have worked on look great or look like shit. Really. The proof is in the pudding.
Now then: If your employer's websites look like shit, then you may have a problem because all of my clients want to hire candidates who can make their sites sell more stuff to more people more often for more money. Got that?
And if your employer's website looks like shit, then it will be impossible for my clients to imagine how you can create value for them. (Your only option might be to maintain a blog that looks amazing.)
On the other hand, if your websites look great and your references will testify that you were a star in your company, then I will find a way to help you get the job you want.Tweet
TOM: Interesting interview. Seems like companies really don't know what they want.
HARRY: That's why I am in no danger of being replaced by the Internet.Tweet
Lots of times the best ecommerce candidate doesn't get the job. There are probably a hundred reasons why this is so, but this post only covers one: The client decides to engage a contingency recruiter only after the search has been open for several months.
A good recruiter is like the fire department: You never want to call them, but they're there if you need them. Recruiters are expensive. I get that. And lots of contingency recruiters suck. I get that too. The old joke in my industry is that "being the best contingency recruiter is like being the tallest midget." Politically incorrect, but true.
Still, truly great contingency recruiters are out there, and they can make a whale of a difference to a client's business if there's an element of mutual trust and respect. But very often it takes a client several months of trying to close an ecommerce search on their own before they get to that point mentally.
"The difference between salad and garbage is timing ..."
What happens if you are an ecommerce jobseeker and you apply for a certain job before I'm awarded the search? Well, sadly, you are now my competitor. Yep. Even if I know you are highly qualified for the job, I cannot represent you on the deal. You've already applied, and according to the client's fee agreement, the client is not going to pay me to manage your candidacy.
Which sucks, because I'm sure I would have improved your chances greatly by mapping your initial resume to the job description, giving you advice on the client's hot buttons, helping you understand the hiring committee's political agenda, and covering you up with company and market research to help you nail your interviews.
There's lots of creative stuff I can do to help you get the job -- but through no fault of your own, you applied for the role and now I'm duty bound to help my current candidates beat you in the search.
Neither of us could have predicted that the client would reach out to me in frustration even though your resume is sitting right ... under ... their ... nose.
I hate this for both of us, because you may in fact be highly qualified for the job, but the client didn't know enough about you to appreciate your background. You are a diamond in the rough, and in the rough you shall stay. This does not make me a heartless bastard: Ninety percent of the time my client won't tell me which candidates have applied for the role, and even when they do I am professionally obligated to help my current candidates get the job.
What can you do about this?
Nothing really, other than try not to shotgun your resume around the industry. Beyond that, you can keep in touch with your industry's best recruiters and see what they have in the pipeline. Certainly I'll tell you if you ask, but most contingency recruiters will say that I'm insane for doing this. Why? Because average recruiters are afraid that you will go around them if they tell you who the client is. Wimps.
I have never operated like that.
If you're a highly qualified candidate, I may mention that "I heard Company X is looking for a VP of Ecommerce, and their VP of HR reached out to me about possibly handling the search. Let's wait a week to see if I get the deal. If I don't, then I'll call the VP of HR and recommend you for the job. If I do get the search, then I'd love to manage your candidacy." I might even provide some judicious commentary about Company X, its lines of business, who else may have applied, and so on.
This positions me to the candidate as a valuable source of intel, and demonstrates to them the value of waiting to see if I land the search.
Again, I know of very few recruiters who operate like this, even though I have never been screwed by an A-player when I've taken this tact. There's absolutely nothing unethical about this strategy, and I've found that only second-rate (ie, insecure) candidates go around me.
Later, these B-players are easily dispatched by my heavily-armed A-players when I do get the search -- or even when I don't get the search, and I introduce these loyal A-players to the company's VP of HR as a courtesy to everyone.
Either way, I win. Because in contingency recruiting, there's a lot to be said for karma.Tweet
ATLANTA, GA - At EcommerceRecruiter.com, we specialize in contingency-based ecommerce searches, meaning we only get paid when we close a deal. Typically, we don't do retained work. Nor do most recruiters.
Recruiting's fiercely competitive: InfoUSA's rentable list of executive search firms contains 7,686 records. That number's not gospel, but it should give you an idea of how many players there are. And there are zero barriers to entry. All you need to be a recruiter is five fingers, a phone, and the gift of gab.
Most recruiters are generalists.
I'm not being uncharitable when I say that most contingency recruiters are generalists, and they tend to follow the money into the hottest industries. Sometimes it's logistics. Sometimes it's finance. Or information technology. It could be anything. Whatever the economy dictates.
Today, Indeed.com lists 16,905 ecommerce jobs -- versus 217,000 accounting jobs. Accounting, btw, has been around since the 1600s. Ecommerce has been around since 1995. Ecommerce is a very hot field, and it will only get hotter as the forces of mobile, local search, social media, and international trade combine.
Naturally, contingency recruiters are absolutely flooding into the ecommerce space.
But here's the thing: An ecommerce recruiter needs two things to appeal to the best candidates: Ecommerce expertise, and a great flow of ecommerce jobs. The best recruiters do a great job of aggregating both the SUPPLY and DEMAND of talent. We make a market. It's simple, but not easy. It takes excellent candidates to attract world-class clients, and vice versa. It's a chicken-and-egg deal.
Against this backdrop, it's safe to say that "one off" recruiters are usually desperate to close whatever deal they're working on, and asking a one-off recruiter if you should take the job is like asking a barber if you need a haircut. Seriously. They usually have only one ecommerce search and whatever candidates they can scare up on LinkedIn. Again, I'm not being uncharitable. This "specialist-versus-generalist" dynamic is common in all service industries. Look it up.
By contrast, EcommerceRecruiter.com was contacted by [many] dozens of companies in 2010 and we took slightly more than half of the deals that were presented to us. And our candidate database contains +45,000 resumes, most with cell phone numbers. Ecommerce is all we do.
Why am I telling you this?
Because if you're a candidate and I'm repping you on a deal, I absolutely do not care (from a personal, financial standpoint) whether or not you accept my client's offer of employment. Sure, I care a lot on behalf of my client. After all, it's my job to help them land the talent they want.
But if you don't take the job, I've usually got at least one very good backup candidate to show my client ... and several other job opportunities to show you. Most of the time, I'll close my client's search regardless of whether you take the job. And very often, I'll place you in another job. So, I'm indifferent.
But that doesn't mean you should be.
A while back, a candidate of mine got an offer from a client. It was a great offer by a great company for a great candidate; and one that the candidate haggled over, too. For a week! The client jumped through hoops to get this guy. The money, the role, and the title were all sweetened to land this candidate. The client bent over backwards, and in the end the candidate decided that "the role really wasn't for him."
Negotiations that last longer than a few days usually don't end well.
I wasn't mad. I'll close the search soon. But it sure was unfair to my client. The whole candidacy was like a big budget movie with a plot that went nowhere.
Candidates, please don't do this!
Sharply define what it is you want in your next career opportunity and be prepared to pounce when it's offered to you. It's okay to window shop with the recruiter. And it's alright to tire-kick with client phone screens. But for heaven's sake, don't be so wishy-washy about your career that you drag a client through several rounds of in-person interviews at their expense. At a minimum, this is a lousy way to allocate your valuable vacation days.
Certainly, I'll provide you with as much career counseling as I can, but remember that I'm not going to try to convince you to take the job. Ever. If you think a potential job is not going to be right for you, it's always best to bail early in the process.Tweet
ATLANTA - My company has done business with Linkedin for several years. Happily, I might add. I started using Linkedin in 2004 -- even before I really understood how to use it, while most of my recruiter friends insisted that I was insane for using it at all.
But I used it anyway, sensing that Linkedin would someday amount to something. I'm so smart.
Obviously, Linkedin has since become a major force in the recruiting industry, and it has the ability to completely transform and disrupt the executive search business in the coming years. Big time.
Looking back, every time my firm had an opportunity to subscribe to a Linkedin service, we usually went "limit up" on it – meaning, we bought as much of it as we could at the time. And we were rarely disappointed with our returns on these investments.
So last year, when Linkedin approached us about subscribing to their Recruiter tool, we signed the deal. Except that the deal Linkedin pushed us to sign was not a typical one-year deal such as we see from CareerBuilder and Monster. No, Linkedin wanted us to do a three-year minimum on Linkedin Recruiter.
Three years is a lifetime to a paranoid recruiter.
And Linkedin wasn't giving Recruiter away, that's for sure. In fact it was pretty expensive, but it gave us a substantial inventory of InMails -- AKA, the ability for us to communicate directly with anyone in Linkedin's database without going through a string of intermediaries, whether we had a personal relationship with the ultimate recipient or not. So if Barack Obama is on Linkedin and I want to send him an InMail, I can, immediately, confidentially, and without asking three intermediaries to pass my note along. Done.
Slick concept, especially for lazy recruiters. Who needs to cold call when you can just press a button? I'm so smart.
You can get a sense for InMail pricing on this grid.
Now then. Traditionally, my attitude has been that Linkedin is much more than a standard candidate database. Aspects of it more closely resemble online communities. Duh: It's social. In fact, my own Linkedin group, EcommerceJobs.com, has nearly 5000 members and is now the seventh-largest e-commerce group on Linkedin. So Linkedin is of real, serious strategic importance to my firm.
But lately, I wonder if we made the right call by buying thousands of InMails.
The problem boils down to what it is known among direct marketers as List Fatigue, a concept that refers to prospect list that is so over-mailed that the prospects on the list no longer respond to any marketer, no matter how qualified or relevant the marketer may be. It's a simple signal-to-noise problem.
Tonight I spent 45 minutes going through my Linkedin e-mail inbox. What I found was appalling. Most of the correspondence was spam, outright. Totally impersonal and irrelevant to me, yet because I "knew" many of the senders through social media, I felt compelled in some cases to acknowledge their outreach.
Introducing FRAM: Spam from social media friends.
It was like spam, but much worse. It often came with a weird sense of obligation. For example, one of my (4,190) first-degree connections asked me to write a short recommendation about him before passing along his bio to a hiring manager in an industry that's totally unrelated to my own (ecommerce). Sure, I could have been a dick and archived his InMail, but I'm in the karma business. Plus I'm not a dick.
Several InMails were from PR flacks advising me of some new development with their software clients. Many InMails were from social media experts inviting me to attend a webinar. And so on.
All told, I had 47 InMails, and less than 5 contained REAL opportunities.
And immediately, I was overcome with the fear that people must feel the exactly same way about MY InMails -- all of which cost me nearly ten bucks a pop to send. I'm not in the business of annoying people, and I don't think anyone should be. Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not "over" Linkedin, and I don't think it has jumped the shark. But there's something about Linkedin that reminds me of that Yogi Berra quote about his favorite restaurant being "so popular that no one goes there anymore." I can see that comment applying to Linkedin at some point down the road.
How far down the road I can't say, although I'm about to enter year 2 of my three year deal. Which means that I'm obligated to "Fram" Linkedin members for at least another two years, or watch thousands of dollars worth of InMails expire, unused.
Which is probably what I'll do.
SEATTLE, WA - Ecommerce recruiting is a pretty cruel business: I will handle 120 searches this year, and for even the searches I don't close, there is only one winner – and everyone else goes home with a T-shirt. Just like the Final Four.
Naturally, all of my losing candidates want to know how to improve their game for the next time. What could they have done differently? What could they improve? What did they do wrong that they shouldn't do again? Was it something they said? And so forth. After all, I work with the ecommerce industry's best and brightest, and these folks aren't used to losing.
"You had me at hello."
I don't think I have ever closed an ecommerce search in which the winning candidate didn't have great chemistry with the hiring manager. I honestly can't remember even one time. However, I can remember lots of times when a less qualified candidate got the job over a highly qualified candidate. And in every one of those cases, the winning candidate had great chemistry with the hiring manager.
You can't force good chemistry. In fact, trying to force chemistry almost always makes it worse. All you can do in a job interview is know your sh*t and go with the flow. And even if you have GREAT chemistry with the hiring manager, that doesn't mean that some other candidate's chemistry won't be better.Which brings me to the point of this post:
It is my humble opinion that there is no point trying to be too analytical about why you didn't get a particular job. Trust me, if the hiring manager had wanted you to have it, you would have gotten it. That's been my experience.
Certainly you want to prepare for your job interviews. Look at the client's website in GREAT DETAIL. Research the role, the company, the industry, and its customers. Understand how you will make the hiring manager's job easier, and by all means know ICE-FREAKING-COLD how the company makes money and how YOU can help the company make money.
Have a teachable point of view on the work that you do, and be prepared to talk candidly about your failures and what you would do differently if given the opportunity to live those moments over. Anyone can talk about how great they are. It takes real humility to discuss one's own limitations in a way that's frank, yet not too self-effacing.
Beyond that, there's really not much else you can do, and there's certainly no accounting for chemistry. I learned a long time ago that some people think I'm awesome, and some people think I'm a total jackass. Certainly, I've had my moments when whichever side of that argument you're on, you'd be 100% right.
Whatever. I believe it was Thoreau who said that "In a world of many minds, there is no reality." You'll get the job next time. Very few people are in transition forever.
Who knew I needed a new razor? I could have gone another two years without replacing my current Sensor. But now! Now I have feelings of razor inadequacy! Thanks, Gillette!
HEY, MARKETERS: If you sell a product that works great and almost never needs replacing, what are you doing to get your happy customers to upgrade?
Employ Media is pushing a huge expansion of .jobs sites—250,000 or more sites—and SHRM conducted a backroom, behind closed doors evaluation of the proposal before recommending it to ICANN, the Internet’s governing board.
This issue will dramatically impact EVERY recruiter who relies on fair, independent job boards as a distribution channel for their job postings and as a fair, neutral, independent source of candidates.
It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with the .jobs expansion, the recommendation process was flawed and serves nobody’s best interests—job boards, associations, staffing firms, employers or job seekers.
Recruiters: Please send ICANN an email RIGHT NOW voicing your concern about the process and asking them to require that the process be restarted and done correctly—out in the open and with full participation by all parties that will be affected.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant: RIGHT NOW please send an email to ICANN simply asking them to take the process away from SHRM and start all over again. It will take you 2 seconds to do this.
Address your email to email@example.com
Your email should simply state:RE: DOT JOBS – PLEASE RESTART THIS PROCESS SO THAT OTHERS MAY BE HEARD.
Please include your name and contact information in order to legitimize your request.
THE DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS ENDS TODAY. ALL RECRUITERS MUST BE HEARD ON THIS ISSUE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.
Please send this blog post to ten friends!
PS - Be sure to check out RecruitingBlogs' Miles Jennings' round up of posts on this very important issue!
BOSTON, MA - Copywriting master, Alan Rosenspan, devoted an entire newsletter to finding a job in this difficult economy, but this story is really amazing. According to Alan, ...
"Alec Brownstein is a copywriter who wanted to gain the attention of five Creative Directors in different advertising agencies. He could have sent them samples. He could have sent his resume or a clever cover letter. But Bronstein was much more creative than that.
So he used Google – and it cost him a grand total of six dollars. Brownstein bought ads on the names of the five creative directors he wanted to work for on Google. Since these are very lightly trafficked pages, the ads cost him as little as 15 cents each.
Whenever someone Googled one of the creative directors' names, a personal message appeared at the top of the page: "Hey, [creative director's name]: Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too"
The ad also included a link to Brownstein’s website. Brownstein knew that these creative directors would Google themselves sooner or later - and then they’d see his name and ad.
Within two months, he got phone calls from four out of five of the directors - and two job offers! Today, he is a Senior Copywriter at the Young & Rubicam (Y&R) agency in New York."
By the way, to get a free copy of Alan's blockbuster “Creativity in Job Hunting” newsletter (Newsletter 59) just e-mail him and he'll be happy to send it to you. You can see the complete archive of Alan's killer direct response newsletters right here.
I read them cover to cover every month -- and they're very relevant to ecommerce pros.