People & recruitment

Write job descriptions that get candidates

Many of us know how stressful it is to find a new job. It is no piece of cake for the person on the other side of the desk, either. Ask a business owner or senior leader in B2B about the least enjoyable part of their job and many will tell you it is recruiting and hiring. And the most dreaded task in the process is writing the job description. Sometimes it can be difficult just to know where to start- not everyone has the luxury of an HR department to do it for you. When it comes to modern B2B ecommerce, there are hundreds of different skills and abilities that can come into play. Where do you begin?

You begin with the basics, and that is what this post is going to help you do.

Start with your Summary which provides an overview of the company and then the goals of the position. In this example I am using the title of head because it could be a director, a VP or something different. There are lots of variables that determine title, and these roles can also include other responsibilities. But for a straight ecommerce position at the VP level, the high-level goals portion of the Summary section might look something like this:

We are seeking an experienced and visionary head of B2B ecommerce to lead our digital transformation and drive revenue growth in the B2B sector. As the head of B2B ecommerce, you will be responsible for developing and executing the overall B2B ecommerce strategy, managing a dedicated team, and optimizing the customer experience to maximize sales and customer satisfaction. You will collaborate closely with cross-functional teams to align ecommerce initiatives with business objectives and ensure seamless integration with other channels.

Then include a couple of sentences on what title this position reports to, what titles report up to this role, and the departments this person will be closely collaborating with.

I sometimes like to follow this with a summary statement on the experience, skills, and abilities you are seeking.

Next, think of the top-level categories of responsibility and use this as the framework around which you will build the job description. There are many, but for this example I am pulling out these eight that I used for a VP of B2B ecommerce position I recently filled:

Strategy Development: Develop and execute a comprehensive B2B ecommerce strategy, including business plan and annual budget, aligned with the company’s overall goals and objectives. Identify market opportunities, trends, and emerging technologies to drive innovation and competitive advantage. Work with the executive management team to define the corporate ecommerce strategy. Manage budgets and resources for ecommerce initiative.

Team Leadership: Lead and manage a team of ecommerce professionals, including developers, marketers, and customer service representatives. Provide clear direction, set performance goals, and ensure the team’s success through effective coaching, training, and performance management.

Platform Management: Oversee ecommerce operations, maintenance, and performance measurement of the B2B ecommerce platform. Collaborate with IT and web development teams to ensure a seamless and user-friendly online experience for B2B customers.

Sales and Revenue Growth: Drive sales growth by implementing effective marketing and merchandising strategies, optimizing product assortment, and identifying cross-selling and upselling opportunities. Responsible for growth targets for all customer facing B2B ecommerce assets. Analyze sales data and key performance indicators to identify areas for improvement and take initiative-taking actions.

Customer Experience: Enhance the B2B customer experience by ensuring a user-friendly interface, streamlined purchasing process, and excellent customer service. Continuously monitor customer feedback and implement improvements to meet and exceed customer expectations.

Business Relationships: Foster and maintain strong relationships with key B2B customers, channel management stakeholders, vendors, business operators and field teams to support the enhancement of B2B experiences. Collaborate with sales teams to identify customer needs and develop tailored ecommerce solutions to support their businesses.

Analytics and Reporting: Develop and utilize ecommerce analytics and reporting tools to track key performance metrics, monitor sales trends, and generate actionable insights. Regularly present reports to senior management, highlighting ecommerce performance and recommending strategies for improvement.

Industry and Competitive Analysis: Analyze and assess the effectiveness of all existing products and programs and current needs based on market trends. Stay up to date with the latest trends, best practices, and innovations in B2B ecommerce. Conduct competitive analysis to identify opportunities and threats and make recommendations for staying ahead of the competition.

Next, drill down the knowledge base to make sure you are not overlooking anything else important for your need that belongs among the top-level categories:

  • Digital Marketing (channels, platforms, marketplaces)
  • Content/Product Data
  • Product Management
  • Fulfillment and Customer Service
  • Creative
  • Inventory Management
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Customer punchout/eprocurement
  • Third part marketplaces/distributors
  • Supply chain forecasting
  • Merchandising
  • Hiring/Org Structure
  • Website Usability/Conversion
  • Marketing Automation
  • Vendor Management

Also, weave in these higher level “soft skills” where appropriate:

  • Adaptable
  • Critical Thinking
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Influencer/Change Agent
  • Collaborative Ability
  • Ambiguity

Here is a second-tier list of competencies to consider. Many of these can be assumed at the top level, but a hiring manager want to put particular emphasis on a quality that was lacking in the previous person, or might represent an important cultural fit:

  • Visionary
  • Analytical person
  • Transformative
  • Decision-making
  • Initiative-taker
  • Roll up your sleeves
  • Organizational
  • Project management
  • Branding
  • Passion
  • Cheerful outlook
  • Customer-centric
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Project Management
  • Foster positive morale
  • Challenging environment
  • Work ethic

When it comes to the duties and responsibilities portion of the job description, size matters. Too long and candidates will wonder if you really know what you are looking for. Too short and you will be overwhelmed with applicants who think they are qualified but are not. For me, the right balance is somewhere around 15-20 key responsibilities. Here is a list of bullet items I borrowed from a couple of job descriptions I recently wrote, which should give you some innovative ideas:

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive B2B ecommerce strategy aligned with the company’s overall goals and objectives.
  • Identify market opportunities, trends, and emerging technologies to drive innovation and competitive advantage in the B2B space.
  • Set ambitious revenue targets and develop strategies to achieve them, focusing on customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty.
  • Lead, inspire, and manage a high-performing team of ecommerce professionals, including developers, marketers, merchandisers, and customer service representatives.
  • Provide clear direction, set performance goals, and foster a culture of collaboration, continuous learning, and accountability.
  • Develop talent within the team, identify skills gaps, and implement training and development programs to ensure the team’s growth and success.
  • Oversee the end-to-end management of the B2B ecommerce platform, including platform selection, development, customization, and ongoing optimization.
  • Collaborate with IT and web development teams to ensure a seamless and user-friendly online experience for B2B customers.
  • Implement best practices in UX/UI design, navigation, and site performance to enhance the B2B customer journey and maximize conversion rates.
  • Drive revenue growth through the B2B ecommerce channel by implementing effective marketing and merchandising strategies.
  • Optimize product assortment and pricing strategies to meet the unique needs of B2B customers.
  • Identify cross-selling and upselling opportunities and develop targeted campaigns to increase average order value.
  • Analyze sales data and key performance indicators (KPIs) to identify areas for improvement and take initiative-taking actions to drive growth.
  • Develop a deep understanding of the B2B customer journey, pain points, and preferences.
  • Continuously improve the B2B customer experience by ensuring a user-friendly interface, streamlined purchasing process, and exceptional customer service.
  • Implement personalization and customization strategies to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Collaborate closely with sales teams to align B2B ecommerce initiatives with sales strategies and support their business development efforts.
  • Work with marketing to develop online marketing campaigns.
  • Build strong relationships with key B2B customers, vendors, and partners, understanding their unique needs and delivering tailored ecommerce solutions.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams, including marketing, IT, logistics, and finance, to ensure seamless integration and coordination of B2B ecommerce operations.
  • Leverage data analytics tools and customer insights to monitor performance, identify trends, and generate actionable recommendations for continuous improvement.
  • Develop and report on KPIs related to revenue, customer acquisition, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction.
  • Stay up to date with the latest ecommerce trends and technologies.

The qualifications section keys in on the actual expertise required to do the job. Again, I usually recommend somewhere around fifteen bullets. Here is a sample of some requirements I included in a recent job description I wrote:

  • Proven experience in B2B ecommerce leadership roles, preferably in a fast-paced and dynamic environment.
  • Strong understanding of ecommerce platforms, technologies, and trends.
  • Demonstrated success in driving revenue growth and achieving sales targets through ecommerce channels.
  • Excellent leadership and team management skills with the ability to inspire and motivate a diverse team.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving abilities, with the capability to interpret data and make data-driven decisions.
  • Exceptional communication and people skills, with the ability to build relationships and collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams.
  • Purposeful mindset with a focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences.
  • Knowledge of B2B sales processes and customer needs within the ecommerce industry.
  • Familiarity with SEO, SEM, and digital marketing strategies.
  • Strong project management skills with the ability to prioritize and manage multiple initiatives simultaneously.
  • Bachelor’s degree in business administration, Marketing, or a related field. MBA or equivalent is a plus.

Finally, when I write these job descriptions, I would like to include a section that addresses what success will look like. I call them “Performance Outcomes.”  This tells us what the person needs to do, rather than what the person needs to have. When I meet with a client, I always ask, “What are the 3-5 key things this person needs to accomplish in this role to be successful?” Their answer becomes this section. Here is an example of what this looks like taken from my initial kick-off meeting with a CEO of a large B2B manufacturer:

  • Create an environment where our customers can do business with us 100% online if they choose through a brand site, e-commerce, and customer portals.
  • Develop a relationship with our customers and stakeholders by creating an experience that walks them through the appropriate stage they are at in the project life cycle: Design, Bid, Build.
  • Deliver audience centric journeys that focus on the diverse needs of project owners, utility companies, engineering firms and contractors.
  • Provide potential customers with the choices that they have and why each option should be considered. These choices are presented as the “model specification” for each product with advanced configuration tools.
  • Deploy the Master Data Strategy and updated taxonomy to help our customers find and select the solutions they need.
  • Integrate marketing capabilities to capture data about our customer preferences, create dynamic content experiences, and provide data driven insights.

Altogether, I try to keep my job description to around eight hundred words. That is not always easy to do when you have a lot to cover, but it is easy to overload them with a litany of requirements, duties, and responsibilities. Thinking about the number of bullets per section and word count will help you keep your focus on those items that matter most.

 

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About the B2BEA

The B2B eCommerce Association is a global network and resource hub for B2B practitioners, offering invaluable opportunities to connect and learn. Our mission is to empower manufacturers and distributors in their eCommerce and digital transformation journeys through useful tools, practical resources and exceptional networking opportunities. Join us to thrive in our dynamic industry

Want to become a member?

Become a member of the B2B eCommerce Association for free today. Connect, learn and find new opportunities. 

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