It’s not easy to be in retail these days. An increasing preference for online purchases over in-person shopping, high-quality goods over mass-produced products and a custom-tailored experience over an impersonal one have required many brands to rethink their strategy completely, many of them shuttering hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores in the process.
But Nordstrom isn’t your average retail store. Unlike many of their competitors, Nordstrom has embraced advanced tech, high-end positioning and meticulous attention to customer service from the get-go, and it’s apparent everywhere from the sales floor to the C suite. Perhaps it’s due to this forward-thinking strategy that Nordstrom employees made President Blake Nordstrom one of Glassdoor’s Top CEOs of 2018. Along with his co-president brothers, Blake Nordstrom has led the company to not only be one of the top department stores in the world, but also a world-class workplace.
Glassdoor recently got the chance to catch up with Blake Nordstrom to learn more about how he and his co-president brothers have helped the company adapt in a constantly changing market, what he looks for in employees and his best piece of advice for job seekers — here’s what he had to say.
Glassdoor: Congratulations on the Top CEOs win! What does it mean to you to know that your employees have rated you so highly?
Blake Nordstrom: As co-presidents, my brothers and I are honored by this recognition. It’s most meaningful to have members of our team view the company and the leadership at Nordstrom in a positive light.
We’re grateful for the thousands of people over the years who have helped build the reputation the company has today. We know it’s fragile and we’re proud to work together alongside our 72,000 employees to continue to build upon it.
Glassdoor: One of a CEO’s primary responsibilities is to hire amazing employees. What attributes do you look for in Nordstrom applicants?
Blake Nordstrom: We hire talented people from outside the company and at the same time, we also have a culture where we promote from within. Our ability to nurture a culture and environment that attracts and retains great talent is something that we are very mindful of and work hard on developing every day.
Glassdoor: How do you align the company’s recruiting strategy with the ever-changing world of fashion and retail?
Blake Nordstrom: Our overall strategy rests squarely with the customer. And then we think about how that contributes to a culture that helps recruit talent. People have choices [of] where to shop. There’s an even higher bar when you decide where you’re going to work. You are taking your character, your reputation and your integrity and saying, “I want to go work with that company and those people.” So at the end of the day, we want people to feel proud of the team and the company they’re associated with.
Glassdoor: When it comes to Glassdoor, how do you use the platform for recruiting and keeping your finger on the pulse of both company culture and candidate experience?
Blake Nordstrom: People who are thinking about their careers utilize Glassdoor as one of their touch-points and fact-finding platforms. It’s an indicator that we’re mindful of and [that we] utilize to address the strengths and opportunities for our company.
Glassdoor: Retention is hugely important these days. How do you lead your teams to retain top talent, especially when turnover is expected in the industry?
Blake Nordstrom: We believe it’s important that every leader has an appreciation of the role their team plays within the company, and that they recognize that they will be successful through their teams. Leaders play an important part in creating the culture and environment that people like to be part of. We strive to treat everyone with courtesy and respect and as managers, make sure we’re listening and creating a climate that values diverse points of view, which should help people achieve and exceed their goals.
Glassdoor: Now for a few fun ones — what is one book that you think everyone should read? Why?
Blake Nordstrom: One book I really like is “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown. People may think it’s about a crew team but for me, it’s about adversity. It’s about a young person who has challenges, who’s living in the depression era and through his own will, work ethic and determination goes to the Olympic Games in Berlin and wins. It’s about individuals working as a team — an assortment of people with different backgrounds who came together and worked so well as a team that they ultimately won the highest award in the Olympic Games.
Glassdoor: What is your go-to productivity hack?
Blake Nordstrom: For me, it’s important to focus on the subject or person at hand. Given the demands of our business, it’s also important for me personally to stay mindful of my health and wellness so that I can be present for other people.
Glassdoor: What is your number one job search tip?
Blake Nordstrom: My number one job search tip is to think about how that job you’re seeking is going to enhance your reputation. When you’re looking for a job you have many different criteria. You should think about how it’s going help you move forward as a person, how it’s going to open doors for you and how it’s going to enhance your reputation. The world changes quickly and there will be jobs or careers that may not even exist today, so trying to think about that in a structured way may not serve you well in the short-term. The key is to think about those principles so that when things change and opportunities arise, you can grow in your career.