Last week I got a call from a Talent Acquisition Director at a company that is considering the use of an experienced ecommerce recruiter to help them hire a new VP of Ecommerce. I could tell from the tone of the discussion that she was not entirely sold on the idea of going “outside” to use a headhunter, and in fact, she flat out asked what I could bring to the table that LinkedIn doesn’t.
Glad she asked.
I told her that while LinkedIn is a great tool, recruiting done right is a contact sport.
My participation as an experienced ecommerce recruiter could be one of the best investments they make.
Sure, you can reach out to people on LinkedIn, and you’ll get some responses. But you may not get all the responses you SHOULD be getting. Many are reluctant to respond because they don’t know anything about you or your business. Or, you’re the 6th recruiter to reach out to them that week, and your opportunity sounds no different than any of the others. Or, they’re not looking- actively or even passively- so they ignore your message. Or, your message does not describe a compelling enough career opportunity that would get them to take notice. Or, they would prefer working with a third party to protect confidentiality. Or, you didn’t come to them recommended by someone they know and trust. Or, they would prefer having someone negotiating on their behalf. Or, they’ve heard something about your company that gives them pause.
I could go on and on.
How do I know this?
Because I’m getting calls and emails every day from VP’s and other senior marketing leaders who see openings, asking if I can help “get them in.” Unfortunately, I can’t if I don’t have a contract with the employer. But the sheer number of these requests tells me that candidates are hungry for this kind of high touch professional representation from an experienced ecommerce recruiter, particularly the ones who are currently employed. No surprise at all: Employers are putting candidates through more hoops than ever before. Sending a resume into a “black hole” can be very unsettling when you have no idea who’s going to see it. For these reasons, many tell me they don’t even bother to apply.
A talented ecommerce leader is a horrible thing to waste.
Navigating a Complex Recruiting Process
Even when you DO start engaging with prospective candidates, you enter a minefield that can easily blow up in your face when you least expect it.
How do you know they’re truly serious, or just looking to collect some quick intel on a competitor or salary trends?
What other searches are underway in your area that you’ll be competing against for the same talent?
Are you willing to settle for a passive hiring solution, like job boards and postings, for a mission critical hire?
Do you REALLY know where the diamonds are buried? Even if you do, exactly how are you going to dig them up, particularly if they are not in an active search?
Do you know candidate reputations ahead of the search?
Are they really going to relocate when they say they will?
Do you know what would really motivate a particular individual to give notice and quit their job?
How well can you speak to THEIR agenda?
How are you going to handle a counter-offer? Handle it wrong and you WILL lose your candidate.
How will you respond if the candidate receives multiple offers?
How up to date are you on compensation for the position you’re looking to fill? If you’re depending on data from job posting sites or third party salary research, chances are you’re not getting the full and complete picture compared with a recruiter who is in the trenches every day recording source data.
A Cost Effective Option
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you drop your internal search efforts and hand it all over to third party recruiters, not by a stretch. Many lower level searches don’t always require this level of recruitment expertise. Remember, this article was prompted by a call for a Vice President. A Vice President of Ecommerce is going to have a VERY significant impact on the business, so much so that the investment you make in my services will quickly be offset, if not dwarfed, by the first key decisions they make.
As an experienced ecommerce recruiter, knowing all of the complexities, all of the contingencies and all of the unknown twists and turns that companies face when hiring this kind of high-level mission critical talent, not to mention the enormous impact these individuals can have on the business and its future, and knowing that employers typically reach for the lowest hanging fruit leaving the often more bountiful top of the tree untouched, I simply couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.
But then, that’s just my own admittedly very biased opinion.
Your comments are welcome.
Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is one of the nation’s preeminent executive recruiters in ecommerce, digital and omnichannel marketing. Jerry has been recruiting and placing marketing professionals for more than 33 years. With more than 200 published articles on his blog and LinkedIn profile, and widely quoted by leading business publishers including Bloomberg, AdAge, AdWeek, DigitalCommerce 360 and Target Marketing, Jerry is the “voice” of best practices in the recruitment and hiring of ecommerce and digital marketing professionals. Jerry is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Careers in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing,” on Amazon, and participates in many leading digital marketing and ecommerce conferences and webinars. He is also a vetted member of the Clarity.fm faculty of experts, specializing in the fields of digital commerce. Check out Jerry’s other insights on the Thought Leadership section of the Bernhart Associates website.
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