Just three years ago, those interested in an e-commerce career simply had to stand around and jobs would drop into their hands like fruit falling from an overburdened apple tree. But the economy’s long decline has forced many companies out of business, and many of the remaining players have slashed their staffs to the bone, making e-commerce jobs far harder to come by. Even so, there are jobs out there, though many are well hidden and take longer to land.
“You can pretty much rule out the startups,” Andrew Bartels, an analyst with Giga Information Group, told the E-Commerce Times. Startup dot-coms fueled the job market for a few years but now offer barren ground for job seekers. A better place to look is among successful dot-coms, such as Travelocity, Expedia or eBay. Those companies are not really creating new positions, Bartels said, but they are doing replacement hiring.
Other opportunities exist in traditional mail-order companies that have found success online, such as Lands’ End and L.L. Bean. But Bartels warned that computer companies that have had online success may not offer long-term opportunity since overall computer sales are down.
Second-tier mail-order companies, such as Williams-Sonoma and Smith & Hawken, also need employees with e-commerce expertise as they move their successful catalog businesses online. And for the same reason, traditional retailers like Wal-Mart and Target also need e-commerce gurus and other staff skilled in online business initiatives.
Even though jobs might exist, though, landing one can prove difficult. A poor economy and frequent layoffs have saturated the market with job seekers. In fact, what was once the empire of the worker is now an employer’s market. They call all the shots, and they have a barrage of resumes from which to choose.
In fact, the Monster.com motto “Never settle” could be a death wish for many hungry workers. Most are finding they are overqualified and underpaid for the jobs that are being offered, with one job seeker noting that 20 percent pay cuts are not uncommon.
As the unemployed struggle to find work, they can distinguish themselves from the pack and increase their odds of landing a relevant, if not attractive, job in e-commerce. Many e-commerce companies are looking for employees with security skills, becauseas transaction volume and interaction increase, security becomes more important.
Customer service is heating up as well, with companies looking beyond entry-level candidates to hire more skilled and savvy employees. Vic Burgess, vice president and general manager of alliances at contact center outsourcer Affina, told the E-Commerce Times that his company makes a great effort to “develop the skills of call center representatives.”
In addition, technical support centers need workers who can handle problems that are more complex than those fielded at centers that handle inquiries abouthotel reservations or billing. “Hotel reservations follow a specific path. Technology support or plan eligibility are more complex, and reps need more information,” said Mark Peacock, an analyst with Deloitte Consulting.
Well-rounded workers who can wear many hats in a company that has already stripped bare its employee ranks are more attractive to employers. And, according to Bartels, people with experience in “multichannel activities, online marketing that drives in-store sales” are at a premium.
So, although the job market remains tight and may seem bleak to someone looking for an easy offer, opportunities do exist. However, the shift fromjob-hunter’s paradise to employer’s market has changed the rules, and job seekers would be wise to play along — at least for now.