January 9, 2012, 11:16 AM

Good help is hard to find

E-commerce companies struggle to fill their available openings.

Lead Photo

Despite an 8.5% jobless rate nationwide, e-commerce executives are finding that the demand for experienced e-commerce professionals outstrips supply, according to a report released today by Forrester Research Inc.

The report finds that only 17% of e-commerce executives say they have the proper staff in place. And the hiring and staffing challenges are only getting worse, says the report, “Trends 2011: Staffing and Hiring For eBusiness.” That’s because more companies are entering the e-commerce fray, such as manufacturers selling direct to consumers, while other companies are expanding their web operations. There aren’t enough experienced e-commerce workers to go around, the report says. “The supply problem is simply an issue of time—e-business has not existed for long enough to produce many employees—especially good ones.”

64% of respondents said the hardest area to hire for are those related to customer experience, says the report. The report suggests that’s  because those types of workers often want to work at an agency, where work tends to be more exciting thanks to the variety of projects and clients they get to work with.

Finding the right business analyst is also a challenge for many e-commerce companies, says the report, because it takes workers both knowledgeable about business and data to determine what should be measured and to derive useful insights from the data collected. “E-business professionals are basically looking for a marketing scientist, which can’t be found easily and certainly can’t be hired on the cheap,” says the report. That explains why 53% of respondents say it’s hard to find capable business analysts. As e-commerce continues to grow and evolve, companies are finding that their IT needs are also expanding and that they often struggle to find developers and engineers who can lead the way. The problem is most acute in tech-centric areas like the Silicon Valley where few companies can compete against Internet giants like Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

Here are a few ways the the report suggests companies find the best e-business workers:

·         Reach out to external recruiting agencies with e-commerce expertise who can identify the right candidates. “If you don’t trust HR, leave it to the experts to pinpoint the right hire,” says the report.

·         Rethink compensation comparisons. Because demand outstrips supply, the cost of the right employee is on the rise. Look to benchmarks from sites such as Glassdoor and PayScale.

·          Create a mentoring program. By pairing experienced workers with younger staff, companies can create a pipeline of well-trained employees and reduce the need to hire from outside.

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