How Target Uses Social and Mobile to Hire in IT

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,, 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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3 Responses to “How Target Uses Social and Mobile to Hire in IT”

  1. That is total bs. Target sold out years ago. The have more h1b losers f’ing up than I don’t know what. How do I know this? Simple. My mother used to work for those loser at corporate he in minnibrainiota and used to complain to me about the horse crap service and stupid a holes running that garbage factory. Confirmed her words with a now former manager who was working there. Us stem should let them fail so walmart can buy’em and shut’em down.

  2. I think it is wonderful that Target is using the social web sites to recruit.

    However, having applied for a position at my local Target, I was extremely disappointed when I was turned down. I have more than 25 years’ experience in IT, and couldn’t get hired to sell or support their computers and other electronic gear.

    My only comment on why, is that Target, like so many other organizations, is youth-centric; older, more experienced people need not apply. Target simply doesn’t understand the value of an older, person in such a department as electronics; that older person can help the younger ones learn about the products they sell.

    The only other retail experience I had was in a now defunct large chain and I ran into early difficulties by asking people, when they looked at computers, “What do you want to use it for?” rather than “How much are you willing to spend?”

    In a short span from the day after Thanksgiving to the first week of the following February, I had sold more than 150 PCs, more than all other salespeople combined; people would send their relatives and friends to me, because I wanted to help them use the PCs in the right way, by asking that question up front. I allowed them to make their own mind up about the extended warranty, but only after I helped them with their “needs” first, then their “wants” in the PC they were buying.

    Target needs to learn from people who have experience in computers from the inside out; not just people who sell products.

    I’ll take my soapbox and go now !