Stop these 7 hiring mistakes if you want to build your e-commerce tech team

Hiring mistakes ecommerce
When you started your recruitment career, you probably imagined you’d be the one rejecting candidates. Unfortunately in a tough tech market, more often than not it’s the other way around. Recruitment and HR teams across Europe are in competition for the best candidates, which is making it tougher for recruiters and HR managers. But that doesn’t mean you need to put up with rejection. We’ve identified 7 super common hiring mistakes that stop talent acquisition departments from building the tech teams of their dreams. Are you making any of them?  

7 e-commerce hiring mistakes to avoid

1. Start hiring too early

Half baked Ben and Jerry’s is great. Half baked hiring plans, not so much. No matter how desperate you are for new developers (and we know – it can get pretty desperate), don’t rush into hiring. Before you even think about sourcing, you need a growth strategy, product development plan and clear hiring goals in place.   Determine your biggest needs, then spend time mapping out exactly who you need, key skills your candidates can’t live without and how they’ll fit into your existing tech team. In other words, don’t take your recruitment cookies out before they’re baked!  

2. Ignore existing networks

If we started from 0 every time we had a new role, it would be a giant headache. We use existing networks, as well as data from previous Tech Spotting expeditions, to work out where to look for great candidates – and how to reach them. Wherever possible, you should keep a pipeline of great candidates warm, nurture your network and use referred candidates. Ignoring existing connections is easily done when you’re under time pressure – or you’ve been CTO’d! But they’re a gold mine of potentially perfect e-commerce developers.  
It’s about maintaining relationships with people who might not have been a good fit six months ago, but could now be the perfect candidate.
Leslie Kivit, Talent Acquisition Manager

3. Prioritise technical skills over culture fit

We’ve written a lot about this topic, so you probably already know we spend a good chunk of our time banging on about the importance of culture fit. In case you need further persuasion, check out Coding Sans’ State of Software Development report. They surveyed 126 startups and the top priority in hiring was work experience (69%) followed by culture fit (60%). Technical skills came in third! In fast-moving, competitive sectors like e-commerce, it’s absolutely crucial new hires can slot into the team and start hammering out new code as soon as they sit down at their desks. As an e-commerce company, you should know what skills and traits your employees need to succeed: is Agile development experience a must-have? Do you need developers who are happy to work remotely? Or is it more important they’re commercially savvy and understand the business? Technical skills evolve and programming languages change. As a result, the best developers are often those who are motivated and eager to learn, rather than the ones who have years of highly technical experience. Never rely on a technical test. And never, ever rely on a CV.  
Technical skills evolve, and while they are essential… more often than not they can be taught. It is much harder to teach the broad spectrum of soft skills, and finding a deep technologist with soft skills is a very daunting task.
Casey Foss, West Monroe

4. Underestimate the importance of data

This one is two-fold. Firstly, if you’re not tracking your hiring campaigns with appropriate KPIs and creating talent maps, you’re hiring blind. If you’ve not been tracking anything so far (we’re not judging. Ok, we are a bit….) now is the time to start. Successful hiring plans rely on data – as do successful e-commerce products. If your candidates aren’t using data to back up all their decisions, prioritise their workflow and decide which products and features to change, they’re unlikely to thrive in an e-commerce business. No matter what you decide your culture fit priorities are (point number 3!), data should be a must-have, every time. Failing to check your candidates can analyse data could lead to big issues further down the line.  

5. Give out offers even though the candidate isn’t the right fit

You’re under pressure from the C-Suite, candidates are in short supply and you’ve finally stumbled across one that hits most of the criteria. Surely that should be enough? The short answer is no. If you know the candidate isn’t in it for the long haul or won’t be able to handle the demands of the role or the company, it’s a giant waste of your time. You should only extend an offer to a candidate if you’re confident they’re going to do a fantastic job, will fit into the team, and they seem motivated, enthusiastic and eager to start!    

6. Lose candidates to competitors at the last second

Once you know what profiles, skills and tech stacks you’re looking for, move quickly. The hunt for e-commerce developers is tough, and most candidates know they’re in demand! The likelihood is that they’ll be interviewing for other positions, and may even have other offers on the table. If you’ve found your dream developer, move immediately – or you might regret it. That means identifying candidates quickly, conducting concise interviews and making offers as speedily as physically possible. Companies with flexible and nimble hiring processes are winning the war for talent. Why? Because speed is critical for building momentum and maintaining candidate excitement.  

7. Have no clear idea of why candidates should work for you

You decide you love a candidate and move quickly to make them an offer. They consider it for a few days, but end up rejecting you. They were a perfect fit, had the right technical skills and your whole team loved them. What went wrong? You lost out to the competition. If you don’t have a clear idea of what sets you apart, there’s no way you’ll convince a candidate you’re better than the rest. Desirable developers are being approached by tech companies multiple times a day with competitive, attractive offers. If you can’t match them, you won’t stand a chance. Think carefully about why Europe’s top talent should work at your company, and if you can’t compete on salaries look at your benefits, corporate culture and opportunities for learning and growth. Millennial developers often prioritise culture, product and variety of work over salary, so think holistically, do some research and get a little creative!