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GUEST COMMENT Your recruitment resolutions for 2015

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What are your recruitment plans for 2015? This is a great time to think holistically about your team and how you want it to grow and develop. Here are our top 2015 resolutions to ensure the process runs smoothly.

I will scope out my contract requirements for key time periods now

There are thousands of ecommerce contractors out there, ready to take up fixed term or even part time projects helping to get apps developed, websites live or new promotions over the line. For the majority of online retailers, contractors are an essential part of the overall team, a complement to permanent staff and a crucially flexible, scalable resource.

It’s this very flexibility that can be a problem, however. Because contracts are fast turnaround – you can easily define a role in the morning and have someone hired in the afternoon, ready to start the following morning – it’s all too easy to leave everything to the last minute, even when you don’t need to. And that’s when hiring contractors gets unnecessarily expensive – and the best ones are often taken.

While last-minute projects or crisis response will always require contractors with little to no warning, there are plenty of scenarios in which the savvy ecommerce director can make very clear resource predictions. Any type of website launch or major product sale – and of course the holiday season – will all undoubtedly require additional workers, so scope them out as early as possible. This will give you a head start on the best talent and have a hugely positive impact on budgeting.

I will always check references

‘Excellent references available on request’ is the classic ubiquitous CV line. The actual process of contacting those referees and questioning them is far less common. It’s easy to see why – reference checking is laborious, and it’s something that only tends to come up once the candidate in question has impressed at interview – so why worry?

But reference checking is about far more than just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. It allows you to get a completely new picture of your candidate – and that’s not just about digging up negative points they might try to hide. For permanent members of your organisation, qualities like their ability to fit into a team and the workplace culture they thrive in are vitally important, and difficult to discern at interview. You might even learn that your interviewee was far more integral to a major project than they made out, or is even more talented than you realised. And these points can help you choose between two fantastic candidates.

Needless to say, if you do discover something less than wonderful about your candidate, then knowing before you make them a job offer can save you a huge amount of money, time and effort.

I will focus on project management as well as technical talent

Yes, superb designers and developers are worth their weight in gold, and we’re certainly not suggesting that you should pull back on finding the very best talent in those areas. But it’s a more common mistake than you’d think to focus recruitment energies on the technical ‘do-ers’ – the ones who build and maintain your websites, platforms and applications – and assume that project management will just fall into place. The result? Badly managed projects that overflow in terms of both time and money, and then require additional contractors to help fix…using up more time and money.

The golden rule, whenever you’re recruiting for new technical or creative employees, is to double and triple check that you also have the project management resource to support them.

I will make it clear what the opportunities are for progression

Whether we’re speaking to junior designers and developers, or overall heads of ecommerce, there is one very common strand to online retail professionals looking for a new job – they feel they’ve gone as far as they can in their current one.

Now, ‘great opportunities for progression’, ‘fantastic promotion opportunities’ and ‘fast progression for the right candidate’ are common in job descriptions – employers certainly understand that the best talent generally wants room to flourish. But it’s all too easy, once someone new joins your team, to forget to structure that progression properly, to fail to mention when the next chance for promotion will be or, perhaps worst of all, to make it clear that until person X leaves the company, there’s no space for person Y to move up.

This is especially problematic in the etail industry precisely because it’s such an exciting and fast-moving space in which to work. There’s no need for the best designers, developers, ecommerce managers or directors to stick around in a stagnant position, because there is a likely to be a long list of dynamic organisations clamouring for their services.

So, make a commitment now to communicate properly with your entire team – junior and senior alike – as to exactly where they can expect to go next. Do they feel challenged, or over-stretched? Do they have ideas for their future in the organisation that they’d like to share with you? Are they clear on where they can go, what they can do, and how they can get there? Of course, you’re never going to be able to avoid people leaving simply because they want an entirely fresh environment, or because external factors are forcing them to move, but you can at least ensure that everyone who does hand their notice in does it with complete and accurate knowledge of what their position could lead to next.

2015 will be a massively exciting year for the online retail sector – and having the strongest possible team around you will help you make the most of it.

Matt Owens is owner-director at national ecommerce recruitment agency, Instinct.

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