Do you have the skills for e-commerce?

When I did a search on Computerworld's 1992 news database for stories on e-commerce, I got a total of zero stories.

When I did a search on Computerworld’s 1992 news database for stories on e-commerce, I got a total of zero stories. This tells us that A: Computerworld reporters had a quiet year in 1992, or B: there wasn’t much happening in e-commerce seven years ago. The first story on e-commerce doesn’t appear until 1993 — about Tradenz’s Marketlink database. However, by last year the database featured 179 e-commerce stories and that’s about how many e-commerce stories we’ve run already this year. This reflects increasing interest in e-commerce and rising numbers of companies taking advantage of doing business online. And where you have companies doing e-commerce, you need people to implement solutions. Of course, e-commerce is still finding its feet in New Zealand, but opportunities for careers in this field are only going to grow. At the moment, says Candle NZ recruitment consultant Matthew Christie, employers are looking for solutions architects: people with a good understanding of both the network level and the technologies that sit on top of the network. Christie says that’s not an easy role and there aren’t a lot of people who have the required abilities. "They need to have knowledge of how to work in a vendor environment. Traditionally the people in e-commerce have come from chartered accountancy firms or the banks and large organisations that have had the resources to commit to e-commerce and research and development." Christie is expecting more managerial roles focused solely on e-commerce to start appearing soon. "In the banks there are already people working in those roles — they tend to know the internal business processes." If you want to move into an e-commerce role Christie advises keeping on top of the latest technologies — after all, Internet technologies are often leading edge. "It’s important to have knowledge of everything from an operating system, particularly Web caching technologies, right through to SQL and Oracle databases and database administration, because essentially it’s a whole system that gets put in place." E-commerce pay is similar to general IT salaries, although sometimes a little higher in recognition of the "at risk element" — because it is so new. Senior people can earn between $85,000 and $140,000, while other roles — such as Web developers who don’t touch the back end of systems — could be more around the $40,000 mark. So, if you’re still interested, how do you make sure your CV shows you’re suitable for an e-commerce career? Christie says a lot of people talk about their current role quite broadly in their CV, when they should really be stripping out the e-commerce elements. "If they understand the business processes, they need to explicitly explain that in a separate paragraph. Sometimes people gloss over their actual expertise." With this view, Christie agrees with US-based technology recruitment consultant/expert Fran Quittel. Quittel is Computerworld US’s career adviser columnist and also runs her own career advice Web site. She says you should figure out what you know about creating, coding and testing software that will work in Internet and e-commerce environments. Establish what database experience you have that is of interest to an Internet or e-commerce company. Are there underlying tools, technologies and software development processes or concepts you need to emphasise? Put objective and summary paragraphs right at the top of your CV and keep showing how your skills and experience apply to Internet and e-commerce work throughout. Discuss courses or other measures you are taking to handle any gaps. "The bottom line," she says, is that "a recruiter or busy hiring manager probably won’t wade through your résumé information to show how what you’re doing relates to the Internet or e-commerce." Mills is Computerworld’s careers editor and can be contacted at kirstin_mills@idg.co.nz or ph: 03-467-2869 or fax: 0-3-467 2875.

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