Walmart calls its eCommerce unit “the tie that binds the company together.” The group, which employs around 1,500 people, includes the 10 websites the company operates around the globe as well as its technology innovation center, @WalmartLabs. It’s working to reimagine e-commerce and create the “anytime, anywhere” shopping experience online, through mobile and at its more than 8,000 brick-and-mortar stores.
Recently, the company predicted it would generate $10 billion in e-commerce sales in fiscal 2014. During the fiscal first quarter, online sales grew by more than 30 percent. The company’s announced plans to expand its e-commerce operations in key markets around the world. By one estimate, Walmart will invest $300 million in the San Bruno, Calif.- based eCommerce unit this year.
To that end, Walmart eCommerce will be looking to fill “several hundred” technology positions in Silicon Valley by the end of the year, says Michael Cox, Vice President of HR and Talent Acquisition.
@WalmartLabs also recently announced the acquisition of predictive intelligence startup Inkiru as it seeks to expand its data analytics capabilities, including site personalization, search, fraud prevention and marketing. “No one has bigger data than Walmart,” Cox says.
The bulk of Walmart eCommerce’s hiring will be for traditional technology skills such as engineering, front-end and back-end developments, user experience and project management. “We’re looking for people that match our culture and values,” says Cox. “We’re looking for them to demonstrate in the interview process their ability to do more, to do it differently and to do it better than in the past. One of the things we’re trying to do from a reinvention of e-commerce perspective is to build on what we have today, but really build out for the future.”
Walmart rivals any Silicon Valley company as a casual and fun workplace, Cox tells Dice News. It’s totally focused on the customer. With that in mind, it’s an open workplace, from floor layout to communication style.
“One of the things that differentiates us from a lot of other companies I’ve worked for and that I know of, you’ll see the top executives in various parts of the building, so we do practice the value of access to senior leadership as well as the free flow of information and exchange,” he says.
How to Make an Approach
Though applying online is good, the company hosts a variety of meetups and community events that allow potential candidates to network with its staff. Walmart eCommerce has invested heavily in social media, so that’s another way to engage.
Networking’s also key. It’s a small world in Silicon Valley, Cox observes. “We do rely heavily on our associate referral program, and we do respect our associates’ opinions about people they’ve worked with in the past.”
How to Read Their Job Postings
Walmart has done a lot of work recently to move its postings away from corporate-speak and into common language. On resumes and in interviews, managers want to see where you’ve made significant contributions with previous employers, or through other avenues like SourceForge, GitHub or other technology-focused sites.
“I wouldn’t say there’s anything unique about our job descriptions, but we’re very transparent about what our jobs are,” Cox says. “In our interview process, we engage members of our team who can give the candidate color and context to the roles. We look to be very transparent about what the work environment is like.”
The unit’s also streamlined its process so candidates don’t have to go through a gauntlet of interviews.
Advice for Experienced Professionals
Come in with “crisp” examples and stories of how you’ve contributed to other employers, Cox advises.
“In this age of social media, we also want to know how they’re involved in activities outside of just their workplace related to technology,” he adds. “How they stay abreast of technology, developments and changes, and how they give back.” Because Walmart is involved in the communities where it does business, it wants to see what candidates do in their own communities. And, it looks for them to demonstrate knowledge of the company’s community contributions.
Advice to New Graduates
“Beyond networking, I’d say prepare for interviews by getting to know the organization,” Cox says. “Sometimes people think they know Walmart from a brick-and-mortar store standpoint, but Walmart eCommerce is a complementary story to that. It goes back to … learning the history of Walmart, especially what’s gone on in the past 18 months as we’ve become a more third-party reliant e-commerce company, an innovative technology company in the e-commerce space.”
“The other advice I’d have for people early in their career is to help us see the value and transferrable skills that they bring,” he continues. “Even if they don’t have several years of experience, they have done things, either in their education or in their short tenure, that would bring value to us,” he said.
“There’s a lot of information out there about the progress we’ve made with our store technology, our website and our search engine, Scan & Go, smart pricing, those kinds of things,” Cox observes. “A smart technologist will come into an interview with a lot of information about how they’re connected to Walmart and what we’re doing, and how they’d be creative with that.”