How Target Uses Social and Mobile to Hire in IT

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on Friday, 31 August 2012
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Target is turning to a social and mobile recruiting campaign to reach as many IT pros as possible.  Now seeking to fill 165 job openings in its IT department, the retailer figures it makes sense to fish for job candidates where they’re biting.

“We’re finding that the closer we can get to technology talent using tools like mobile and social, the better the results,” says Nate Swanstrom, vice president of marketing and multichannel for Target Technology Services.

Its recruiting campaign relies on banner ads appearing on apps used by 35 media outlets including ABC News, Macworld and Mashable, for example.

Last year, the Minneapolis-based retailer increased IT hiring by 44 percent and continues to build out its tech staff – which already numbers around 3,500.

Target is hiring enterprise architects, business analysts, IT security specialists and more, and it’s particularly interested in wooing tech talent in Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, Raleigh-Durham and Boston.

“IT opportunities at Target right now are pretty phenomenal,” Swanstrom says, citing projects such as analytics, Target.com, mobile and social. “The experiences we can offer and the challenges really set us apart.”

The company drew attention earlier this year, for instance, with its advanced data mining prowess. But its ability to effectively use data in day-to-day operations has been cited as an example to the healthcare industry for analytics.

Target is focused on meeting customer demand anytime, anywhere and, as a result, is significantly investing in tech talent and IT projects, says Swanstrom. He added one of the many benefits of working at Target includes an open and collaborative company culture.

Here’s his insights into landing an IT position at Target.

Your strategy

Come prepared with examples that demonstrate how you’d make an impact at Target.

“I’d start with passion for not only what they could bring, but also their ‘power stories’ as we call them,” Swanstrom says, noting there are tips on Target’s website.

His other advice is to really understand Target’s business. Understand the experience in the store and understand the experience with its apps.

“We really think our culture is a differentiator for us, so candidates need to come not only with their stories, but also an understanding of what the culture can mean to them in their career,” he says.

Reading a Target job ad

Focus less on title and more on the content in the description.  In different markets, titles mean different things.

“It’s important for candidates to really look at the job skills and requirements through the lens of ‘Would I be successful in that role?’ versus comparing that with their current work and title,” he says.

Advice for new college grads

“What we’re looking for, especially in entry-level candidates, is someone who can bring initiative and be persuasive and communicate effectively,” Swanstrom says. “We have a very collaborative culture and we really want to hear … what [candidates] are going to bring to us. “

Swanstrom adds the company offers a unique breadth of experience and new grads need to take the time to understand that. For example, the company offers a Technology Leadership Program, in which a grad would join a group that spends a year and a half learning the operation by rotating through different areas of the IT organization.

“That program already has fostered some new leaders within the company and it’s just 8 years old, so that’s a pretty exciting opportunity for people just coming in,” he says.

Advice for seasoned pros

More experienced workers will be impressed by the open culture, Swanstrom adds. They should not expect to be pigeon-holed in one particular area.

“We work very hard to develop and grow for all levels of talent,” he says.“Experienced hires are given the same levels of attention, mentoring and coaching to help them prosper. We may hire for specific skills initially, but we’re always looking to develop our team.”

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