How to hire your testing unicorn (without using magic)

When I was running my own testing program, I was in desperate need of an associate to help me manage my small (but mighty!) team. My single associate and I were launching tests left and right and we were unable to do anything other than focus on the day-to-day of the program. A job description […]

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When I was running my own testing program, I was in desperate need of an associate to help me manage my small (but mighty!) team. My single associate and I were launching tests left and right and we were unable to do anything other than focus on the day-to-day of the program.

A job description had been posted and the company’s recruiters were doing everything they could to find the right hire.

I remember reaching out to an old friend of mine to see if she knew anyone who might fit the role. I told her that I was looking (simply) for a data-driven individual with stellar communication skills and the ability to manage several complicated web projects at one time.

“Oh,” she said. “So you’re looking for a unicorn.”

“No, Susan… I’m looking for a Testing Specialist.”

Now, I don’t want to be too dramatic here, but this unicorn revelation did rock my world a bit. (It also made me want a bowl of rainbow sorbet with sprinkles… but I digress.)

When I finally overcame this existential testing crisis, I realized that I believed, deep down, that testing unicorns did exist. But I also knew that due to magic (obviously), I might never find one.

There were three main things I was looking for in my unicorn:

  1. Strong analytics skills and the ability to develop advanced data-driven recommendations
  2. Amazing communication skills – for helping stakeholders understand and action off of that data
  3. Organized and efficient project management skills for planning and managing the execution of test strategies

First, I had to assess which skills I already had on my team.

I took a look at my own skills and the skills of the team I had in place. To be honest, I’m much better at talking about analytics than I am at sitting behind a desk and doing a deep dive into the numbers.

My personal strength is in the communication realm of testing and my associate was an awesome project manager. So, it became pretty clear to me that there was a need for a strong analyst on our team.

Then, I had to decide what was teachable.

This is where things get controversial. Because teachable skills can really depend on the skills of the trainee, the trainee’s willingness to learn, and the skills of the trainer.

I did a quick poll here at Brooks Bell to see which skills my colleagues believe is the toughest to teach.

As you can see, many people here believe that good communication skills are hard to coach. And during my search for a Testing Specialist, I felt the same way.

I was pretty confident that I would be able to help my next hire become a better analyst or project manager, but I wasn’t so sure I could teach someone to communicate well in a stakeholder-facing role.

Finally, I had to decide if I could tweak my program structure

Depending on my next hire’s strengths, there were a few scenarios that I had to consider in order to structure my program without a unicorn. Here are a few examples:

If I decided to hire a strong analyst with weak communication skills

In this scenario, I would consider making this Testing Specialist role a non-stakeholder facing role. Because this person would not be project managing or communicating directly with stakeholders, they would be solely dedicated to analytics and free up the rest of the team’s time to focus on project management and stakeholder communication.

If I decided to hire a strong project manager with weak analytics skills

Because I believed that analytics skills were teachable, this associate could focus on project management in the beginning and slowly take on analytics work when they were ready.

If I decided to hire a strong communicator with weak project management skills

In this scenario, I would start by putting this associate in a stakeholder-facing role focused on analytics. After some time, I would begin training him or her on project management.

The magical lesson I learned

When I first approached this seemingly impossible task of hiring my next Testing Specialist, I was discouraged by the reality that I wanted so many specific skills in one individual.

But the truth is, Experimentation and Optimization is still a very niche industry, so finding a single person with so many abilities is going to continue to be tough for a while. That’s why I recommend first looking at the structure of your team, and then deciding which skills you feel comfortable teaching.

And always remember this: Testing unicorns do exist, sometimes we just have to help them find their wings.

Are you a testing unicorn looking for your next big challenge? Check out our monthly “who’s hiring” post for open positions in testing and personalization at top companies.


About the Author:

Sam Baker has eight years of experience running experimentation and digital analytics programs for major e-commerce brands. As a consultant at Brooks Bell, she helps global brands build and grow their testing programs.

In addition to her role at Brooks Bell, Sam is also an accomplished career coach, providing guidance to ambitious women looking to land their dream careers. Originally from Indiana, Sam now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and her dog.

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Who’s Hiring in July?

Here are our picks: Manager, Ecommerce Optimization – Chewy’s eCommerce analytics team is looking for a qualified candidate to “lead strategy, standards and processes around a/b and multivariate testing” across the Chewy site and apps in their Boston, Massachusetts location. Senior Product Manager- Optimization – Join Microsoft’s Digital Stores Experimentation team in Redmond, Washington to “lead business groups […]

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Here are our picks:

Manager, Ecommerce Optimization – Chewy’s eCommerce analytics team is looking for a qualified candidate to “lead strategy, standards and processes around a/b and multivariate testing” across the Chewy site and apps in their Boston, Massachusetts location.

Senior Product Manager- Optimization – Join Microsoft’s Digital Stores Experimentation team in Redmond, Washington to “lead business groups to generate customer insights and drive incremental value through online experimentation.”

Front-End Web Developer – In Bay Minette, Alabama, Standard Furniture Manufacturing is looking for a developer to “work with marketing to create designs and information technology in technical implementation, having an active role on both sides in implementing the best user experience on websites and applications.”

UX Experience Designer – Urban Outfitters, Inc. is “seeking an empathetic, human-centered User Experience (UX) Designer in Philadelphia to join URBN’s Digital Product team; a centralized group, tightly aligned with URBN brands and the IT organization, specializing in user experience, product management, testing & analysis, digital strategy, and program management.”

Vice President, Digital Marketing Strategy and Operations – In Overland Park, Kansas, SelectQuote Insurance Services is looking for a “digital leader to drive the following marketing channels: Search Engine Marketing, Pay per Click Networks, Search Engine Optimization, Retargeting, Social, Display, Affiliate, and all emerging digital channels.”

Manager, Testing & Personalization – LuckyVitamin is seeking a Testing and Personalization Manger in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania to “lead and execute their website optimization and personalization strategy.”

Senior Data Science Analyst, Claims – Join NJM Insurance Group’s Data & Claims Analytics team in West Trenton, New Jersey.  This role will take the lead on “collaborating with business and IT partners to develop predictive analytic solutions and/or tools that enable data-driven strategic decision-making.”

Software Engineer – Mobile and Front-End Application Developer – MedRhythms is seeking a Software Engineer in Portland, Maine, with “experience in all forms of front-end development for mobile applications and web sites with data processing, analysis, and visualization.”

Sr Manager, Digital Testing & Optimization – In Philadelphia, Comcast is looking for a candidate to “optimize conversion, revenue, transactions and customer satisfaction on Comcast’s digital experiences. This position will own A/B and Multivariate testing strategy development and execution.”

Director of Platform Analytics – Join Groupon in Chicago to “lead an Analytics team tasked with leveraging data-driven insights to drive revenue growth for North American Groupon business. The team this individual will lead is tasked with providing data-driven insights to guide product roadmaps and prioritization across consumer product and impression optimization areas.”

Help us, help you!  Trying to fill a position in experimentation?  Send us your posting and we’ll include it on our next post!

 

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Who’s Hiring in June?

Here are some of our top picks: Associate Director, Testing (Marketing Analytics) – Walmart eCommerce is hunting for a new member of its Marketing Analytics team who will help “drive optimal efficiency and effectiveness of our Marketing investment through continuous testing of optimization scenarios.” Based in San Bruno, CA, this role requires 6+ years of […]

The post Who’s Hiring in June? appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Here are some of our top picks:

Associate Director, Testing (Marketing Analytics)Walmart eCommerce is hunting for a new member of its Marketing Analytics team who will help “drive optimal efficiency and effectiveness of our Marketing investment through continuous testing of optimization scenarios.” Based in San Bruno, CA, this role requires 6+ years of experience and a deep knowledge of A/B and Multivariate test design and implementation.

Sr Manager, Digital Marketing Measurement & AnalyticsFidelity has an open role in Boston, MA for someone who is an expert in digital analytics, specifically with tools like Doubleclick, Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target, Adobe Audience Manager, Google Trends, Qualtrics, Clarabridge and BrandWatch. This role will “be critical to help improve the value driven by Fidelity.com,” by “measuring and optimizing the performance of Fidelity.com (homepage, logout page, navigation bar etc.), as well as advertising and messaging on Fidelity.com.”

Sr. Analyst, Omni-Channel Strategy & Analytics – Universal Orlando Resort is in the market for a senior analyst to perform “advanced analysis of the effects of various marketing efforts against desired results” as well as drive “the development of statistical executions to optimize marketing tactics.”  If you have omni-channel experience and are able to “deliver data-driven insights and translatable business stories from audience blueprints, channel insights, marketing mix modeling, attribution, guest journey insights, marketing tests and business intelligence reports,” this is the role for you.

Sr. Manager Ad Measurement & Data Attribution – PayPal is looking for someone to head up to the city that never sleeps (New York, NY) to “develop measurement strategies for multi-touch attribution, conversion-lift, halo-impact, optimization plans and general KPI considerations for launching new campaigns and improving existing core campaigns.”

Senior Website Optimization AssociateAthena Health is searching for an associate to own the testing program and its success. The person who’s best for this role will be able to work independently as needed and also liaise with both product managers and leaders as well as technology teams globally. Further, this role will “plan testing strategies, execute those plans and report out results to key stakeholders including senior leaders.”

Sr. Director User Experience & Design – North Carolina is a pretty awesome place to put down some roots (yes, we’re biased) and this job with Lowes in Mooresville, NC—a suburb of Charlotte—is a great fit for someone who really understands the intricacies of customer experiences across multiple channels and the importance of seamless transitions. Lowes wants a team leader who can “think strategically, look at the business analytically, obsess about the customer and implement at scale.”

Senior Product Manager, Experimentation Platform and A/B Testing ToolsHomeAway, an Expedia company based in Austin, TX, is seeking “an experienced technical Product Manager that is passionate about building data & technology platforms that enable great customer experiences.” This role will be responsible for leading the experimentation program, vision and roadmap with a goal of “improving testing insights and velocity.”

Have a job opening in the optimization space?  Get in touch and we’ll post it next month!

The Brooks Bell Team

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