Hiring for ecommerce, then and now

What’s the best way of hiring ecommerce employees? I’ve struggled with the issue through the years. In this post, I will describe FringeSport’s hiring procedure.

When we were a bootstrapped startup, we hired whoever agreed to work for us, basically. This meant plenty of friends and loved ones. We were excited about our prospects and growth, but we did not have a great deal of money to cover employees. We looked for a can-do attitude as opposed to ecommerce experience.

Also, we did not have a recognized brand in the moment. That made it more challenging to convince someone to see our vision. When we advertised on Craigslist or comparable, we weren’t bringing people from our tribe’ only arbitrary applicants.

This worked well for some time because workers were more or less doing everything — customer service, shipping, product development, sales. We would swap jobs as the day demanded.

When we were a bootstrapped startup, we hired whoever agreed to work for us…

Generalists vs. specialists

Once we grew, however, we saw the advantage of specialty, having people who were focused on customer service or sales, as illustrations.

But, our employee-friends chafed under this installment. It was partly emotional. They moved from doing many jobs — impacting numerous areas — into a constrained role. We had hired individuals who were strong generalists with a good work ethic. Asking them to specialize isn’t what they wanted to hear. They preferred being strong generalists, not, say, customer support specialists. To them, it felt like a demotion.

But that is where we were. FringeSport had evolved. We had experts, and we had a much better idea of the job descriptions, job ads, and job offers. We hired from Craigslist, but with more attention and expertise.

In the early days, we did not know how to interview and how to evaluate candidates. Thus we made a great deal of mistakes. Our ability to hire good people was mainly because of luck.

Fast forward to now, eight years to our ecommerce travel.

We’ve got another hiring process than previously. We seldom need generalists. We need strong pros.

Outsource overseas?

The first and most interesting thing that we have not performed at FringeSport is to outsource jobs abroad.

There’s a solid base of candidates with customer service experience and other ecommerce skills living in the Philippines and elsewhere. Many are so-called electronic nomads. I have friends that employ these kinds of people. My friends believe they can get someone with a strong cultural fit, who costs significantly less than a U.S.-based worker.

But that is not a path that we’ve explored at FringeSport. There’s a strong advantage of having workers in our Austin, Texas warehouse. It helps us create the ideal culture and grow the business in the way we choose. The nucleus of the Business in Austin.

Luckily, Austin is a cool city where people want to live. It has a fantastic pool of talent.

A better procedure

We use Craigslist to post job openings, in addition to Indeed and other job websites. We begin by using a thorough job description and a scoring-evaluation method before we even consider making a hire. What’s the position going to do and how are we going to judge performance? And what will we expect the worker to accomplish during her first 90 days and the first year?

We compose a job posting that we expect will attract the ideal person. Then we tap our specialist networks to spread the word.

And we often pay a referral fee. We double that fee to workers since they may offer the strongest testimonial. And we pay the fee called a”bounty” — on the sixth month anniversary of a successful hire. To put it differently, we need that the hires prove themselves.

We’ve got multiple interviews which we put through. We’re thinking about a group interview, which will be advocated in the publication”Worth Doing Wrong: The Quest to Build the Culture That Rocks” by Arnie Malham, which I highly recommend. It has a brief chapter on hiring.

Other books that affect our hiring process are”Who: The A way of Hiring” and, to a lesser extent, depending on the publication”Topgrading: The Proven Hiring and Promoting Method That Turbocharges Company Performance.”

Buy”Topgrading” and place it on your desk. The book is thick and dry, but it’s much helpful information. “Who,” on the other hand, is a simple read with many great suggestions.

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