Harry Joiner launched his ecommerce recruiting firm in 2005. He has experienced booms, busts, and nonstop changes. I contact him periodically for a recap on ecommerce executive employment in the U.S.
Our conversation last week touched on post-Covid impacts, the demand for remote work, the dominance of LinkedIn, and more. The entire audio of that discussion is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.
Kerry Murdock: What is the state of executive ecommerce employment?
Harry Joiner: It’s like Baskin-Robbins. There are 31 flavors of available candidates — interim, permanent part-time, full-time, per-project, onside, remote, partial remote, and fractional. It boggles the mind. All combinations of talent and engagement are out there.
Murdock: Is that driven by the needs of employers or employees?
Joiner: It’s a bit of both. Job candidates are complaining that their search is taking too long and that remote-capable positions are moving on-premise. That’s the impact of Covid when many jobs were remote. Employees now seek those roles and choose not to relocate their families.
That reluctance is extending the search period. Candidates start casting about for temporary projects, interim stuff, consulting — you name it. It’s causing a real disruption. I’ve seen job searches this last year lasting eight months. People end up doing short-term assignments. Some of them never get back to full-time.
So it’s a hard time to be a candidate and a hard time to be an employer looking for talent.
Murdock: Is there a mismatch between candidates and job openings?
Joiner: Not that I can tell. When I started in ecommerce recruiting in 2005, the average tenure of an ecommerce executive was roughly five years. So every year, roughly 20% of the market was up for grabs. Over time, that period has shrunk.
With Covid, we saw mass layoffs and huge numbers of folks looking for work. It now feels like the typical full-time tenure for an ecommerce exec is about two years. So every year half of the market is available. Plus, again, it can take six months to find a job.
What it means is that everybody is constantly on the make, even if they don’t have “Open to Work” on their LinkedIn profile. Employers are now constantly inundated with people who say they can do an ecommerce job, any job. It’s tough to cut through that clutter.
Plus, applying for a job on LinkedIn is too easy. It’s a push of a button. An ecommerce company seeking, say, a vice president could easily receive hundreds of resumes.
Murdock: Does that mean employers should advertise elsewhere, not on LinkedIn?
Joiner: I would run an ad on LinkedIn because that’s where the candidates are. If you give me 400 resumes, at least 1% will likely be rock stars. It might cost $500 or more to run the ad, but it’s worth it.
But if I ran an ecommerce business, I would constantly network and ask around. Who’s a rising star in this space? Who’s doing a great job? I would build a database of potential hires.
Murdock: What are the top specialties, the most in-demand positions, of ecommerce employers?
Joiner: All specialties or needs are consistently competitive. There’s no single shortage of talent. Managers need expertise across the board.
I ask employers, “What kind of business do you want in five years? What types of candidates will help reach that goal? As a rule, top companies seek what I call “A” talent — folks who are talented no matter what you throw at them.
Murdock: How can listeners contact you?
Joiner: My website is EommerceRecruiter.com. I write on LinkedIn about ecommerce careers. I have 30,000 followers there. HarryJoiner.com resolves to my LinkedIn profile. That’s the other way to reach me.
We’ll be contacted by 150 companies this year. We’ll take about 60 of those deals, about a third.