Is Zappos’ Approach to Recruiting Right for You?

In yesterday’s Advisor, BLR legal editor Jasmin Rojas explored Zappos’ new approach to recruiting—all on social media, no postings. In this issue, more of her thoughts about how you may learn from their initiative.

 In the past year, Zappos received about 31,000 applications and only hired about 1.5% of the applicants. This prevented the company’s small recruiting team from "working in a purposeful way," according to Bailen. Thus, the onus here will really be on the candidate to make him or herself stand out from the crowd in a much less impersonal setting.

A new way to think about recruiting

Zappos is not alone in its attempt to really think out of the box and take novel approaches to its recruiting strategy. Recently, Amazon announced that it would pay workers who were not happy at the company money to quit. The thinking is that the company really doesn’t want disgruntled workers around, so the "Pay to Quit" program is well worth the money. It doesn’t completely solve the problem of unhappy workers but, at the very least, the gesture invokes some loyalty among the workers.

Further, as social media facilitates communication, companies such as General Motors keep in touch with candidates who have been runners-up for job openings. The company wants these applicants to know that they really made an impression. These "Silver Medalists" (as the company calls them) are invited to join networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, where they stay in touch with recruiters. They receive updates about potential job openings and, apparently, do get hired from the "Silver Medalists" pool.

For Zappos, the question is whether the company will really retain the attention of potential job hires over an extended period of time. Potential candidates may be initially extremely motivated to impress the company, but without any results, they may choose to focus their energy elsewhere. However, for now, aside from hiring more recruiters, given Zappos’ current popularity, the risk may very well be worth it for the company.

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What Does This Mean for You?

Your company may not be in a position to totally do away with job postings, but Zappos’ new approach may inspire you to take a look at your own hiring strategy. Of course, you can always hire new staff, but is there a way to better engage quality candidates? You may want to ask your staff about any potential ideas. You may also want to look at your online presence:

  • Does your company look like a place where people want to spend a great deal of their waking hours?
  • Does it reflect your company culture? Of course, employee referrals are some of the best referral sources.
  • Do you actually take time to follow through on these potential recruits?

Investing some time in thinking about possible improvements could pay large dividends in the future.

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