Scoping for hot talent

www2.cio.com |  Career

WHAT DO AN Austin Powers look-alike and a lava lamp giveaway have to do with e-
commerce hiring? Give up? Just ask Lante.When the rapidly growing e-commerce consulting
company had a mere four weeks to open and staff its office in Austin, Texas, the
company did what many self-respecting technology companies would do. Lante threw a
party -- an "Austin Power" party, baby.

Get it? Enough qualified candidates did as well. Fifty prescreened candidates
showed up at the groovy, 1960s-style party to schmooze, meet 25 Lante employees, and
peddle their skills. In the end, Lante hired 15 new employees, including several of the
party-goers.

Despite the light tone, there was serious business at hand: To succeed at e-
commerce, companies know they have to attract candidates who have more than an
assortment of technical skills under their belts. The desirable attributes for e-
commerce professionals include good communication and project-management skills,
energy, enthusiasm, creativity, flexibility, business savvy, and a team spirit.

So often, that even means the companies have to compete in terms of the images they
project. When recruiting, Lante wants to send the message that "having fun and doing
our jobs is important," says Jim O'Malley, director of strategic staffing at Lante, in
Chicago. Lante seeks candidates who -- like company employees -- are team-oriented,
market-focused, dedicated to constantly learning and improving, and results-oriented,
he says.

That formula has helped the now 500-person company quickly ramp up and move in to
its 10 offices. In just the first three months of the year, Lante hired 135 e-commerce
professionals. That number is impressive considering the company had a total head count
of 140 roughly a year ago. Most of the increase came from what recruiters call "organic
growth," meaning the new hires came from the company's own recruiting efforts, rather
than through the acquisitions of other companies.

Hybrid skills shortage

The stakes for getting the right candidates are high. There's a widening gap
between the number of skilled e-commerce professionals and e-commerce-related jobs that
need to be filled, industry observers say. According to a study by RHI Consulting, an
IT-focused division of the staffing services firm Robert Half International, 22 percent
of surveyed CIOs felt that their inability to get the qualified people they needed
would hold back their e-commerce projects.

Even though the gap between supply and demand makes it tempting to hire candidates
with just some of the technical skills needed, IT managers still have to be selective,
recruiting professionals warn.

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