Attracting Tech talent to refine the Jumia e-commerce experience
At Jumia, technology has been at the core of our e-commerce services since inception ten years ago. Throughout this period, several enterprises spanning different industries across the globe have undergone some form of digital transformation.
This, among other factors, has intensified competition for the best tech talent in a context where the pool was already small. Fortunately, we already had some experience in converging tech talent to develop e-commerce solutions for diverse consumers.
This is evidenced by the Tech Center in Porto, founded by Rocket Internet (one of the first Jumia’s investors), which has served as Jumia’s IT development center since 2012. The hub has gradually grown to house nearly 400 employees and also shaped our initial tech recruitment philosophy.
Expanding and modifying our talent sourcing approach
In an effort to bring tech centers to the countries where we operate in Africa, we started off with a small recruitment drive in November 2019, building a tech team of 20 members in Egypt. The effectiveness of this pilot phase showed us that a lot of what we had achieved with the Tech Center in Porto could be replicated.
This success motivated us to widen the talent pool and bring tech teams closer to customers to better understand and address country-specific problems. That is how the 20-person team grew into an entire tech center in Cairo, with the member-count reaching 200 people, some of whom are in our Alexandria wing.
However, on top of expanding recruitment, we’ve also had to modify our approach in response to the tech recruitment challenges here where we are competing with both local and international players in the same country, who inevitably increase demand.
With tech experts in Portugal, Egypt, South Africa, Dubai, and Nairobi among other locations, there’s definitely a rich assortment of talent to interact with on our tech teams.
Lessons from our tech recruitment efforts
From the day we launched in 2021 our new tech center in Egypt, we’ve been immensely enlightened regarding the wants and needs of today’s tech talent. Some of the more noticeable trends in the tech landscape include:
Heightened attention to employer brand
Now more than ever, tech candidates want to work for organizations that will support their growth. They want to know whether a potential employer genuinely acknowledges the relevance of their expertise in product development and adequately nurtures and rewards it.
Candidates also want to see the employer’s products and services having an evident positive impact on the communities they serve. They pay attention to sustainable practices and social responsibility initiatives that are part of the product’s anatomy and not just temporary marketing gimmicks.
Lateral and upward mobility
Tech candidates want to know whether they will collaborate with other tech experts who challenge them and expand their knowledge. Many are also targeting a different industry, or a new service with unique demands.
And as they apply themselves in other sectors, they want the ability to move up the organizational structure, try leadership positions, and become more business-savvy.
Diversity and inclusivity
Since many employers are reaching across countries and continents for tech talent, candidates want to know whether potential employers make it easy for them to fit in. They need assurances that the overall working conditions foster harmony amongst people from diverse backgrounds. Therefore, employers should offer equitable access to resources and assistance.
Infusing learnings into our recruitment pipeline
As we learn more about the most pressing issues when searching for tech talent, we have implemented a two-pronged approach with both near-term and long-term talent attraction endeavors. For the candidates that we need quickly:
We emphasize the product size and massive traffic we handle to remind them that they will be working on large-scale projects that test their full capabilities.
We highlight our numerous verticals such as e-commerce, logistics, digital payments, advertising (MDS), marketplace platforms serving our sellers, on-demand services and more. Surely, any recruit searching for a new and engaging challenge can always try out any of these avenues.
We underline our ability to unite people with significant cultural differences, as clearly shown by the multi-national nature of our operations. More importantly, we demonstrate how they can learn from tech talents across the globe. Accordingly, they can see how diversity enhances how we innovate, develop and deliver.
They interact with members from different teams, including commercial, marketing, and other departments. Consequently, they learn more about how these employees’ roles intersect with the tech team’s role.
We digitize the recruitment journey using a central platform that automates specific processes for a seamless experience on both ends.
Once candidates join us, we ensure that they continue to grow by:
Offering access to training courses and other educational materials based on defined learning paths.
Laying out the skills-based growth options within our organization, such as the individual contributor track or management track. We then encourage them to take short-term assignments to assess their suitability for management roles before they select one of the two paths.
Regarding the longer timeframe, we are cultivating relationships with younger talent through efforts such as:
University employment fairs
Career days with our tech and human resources teams, where they discuss what working at Jumia looks like
Mock interview sessions with our tech team to prepare them for the professional world
Lectures by Jumia tech leaders
Institutions like the German University of Cairo, Moringa School in Kenya, and Carnegie Mellon University Africa in Rwanda have participated in one or more of these exercises. And in some instances, we’ve even hired a few candidates.
Technology is a significant part of our foundation and our decade-long success. So in that spirit, we acknowledge the nuanced needs of tech talent and their ever-increasing awareness of what is a good tech job.
Therefore, we will continuously improve our tech talent attraction and growth methods to realize the perfect mix of incentives. Ultimately, we can establish a winning formula to consistently get the most fitting candidates and empower them to improve the e-commerce experience for both sellers and customers.
Nadia El-Ghor Head of People Development & Head of Tech HR - Africa
Nadia started out as the recruitment manager for Jumia Egypt in 2012, 10 years ago and has since served diligently in various positions including Jumia Egypt Head of HR, Group Head of Talent Planning and Acquisition and Group Head of Employee Development, before moving into her current role.