As the economy improves and unemployment decreases, some companies are finding themselves in a perplexing and frustrating position—they are unable to fill certain roles with qualified individuals despite large numbers of available applicants. What is causing this disconnect?
Bold Experiment or Crazy Idea?
Only a few months ago the HR community was abuzz with the news of online retailer Zappos’ new hierarchical system … or actually, its decision to do away with a linear management style and adopt a holocracy. Now, in its quest to pursue a corporate goal of creating a progressive work culture, rife with fun and, maybe even “a little weirdness,” Zappos announced that it has a new recruiting strategy—it will no longer utilize traditional methods of posting job openings.
Indeed, Zappos will no longer post on job boards such as Monster® or LinkedIn, nor will it post jobs on its website. Instead, people who want to work at Zappos are going to have to network with current Zappos employees on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook.
That’s right. If you want to work at Zappos, you are going to have to demonstrate your passion for the company—in some cases, publicly—in the hope that the company recruiters will reach out to you in the event of a job opening.
In a farewell letter titled “Goodbye Job Postings,” Zappos’ Senior Human Resources Manager Mike Bailen explained the rationale behind the shift in the company’s hiring strategy. According to Bailen, traditional posting methods have netted thousands upon thousands of potential job applicants. However, the problem is that due to sheer numbers, mining this deluge was not the most effective method of finding the “right” applicants for the job.
Bailen laments in his letter: “[Job postings have] given us thousands of impersonal, transactional and cold introductions. Studies show that recruiters spend 5–7 seconds on a résumé. That’s hardly an introduction. It’s barely even a handshake!”
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Taking the Indirect Route to a New Job
According to the letter, Zappos has now created a networking community where its recruiters are posting and blogging. In addition, they created a “Careers Page,” where the company showcases the various departments and the actual workers who work in them. Interested candidates are welcome to find a department that they are interested in, introduce themselves, and actually interact with the staff. By doing so, they become a Zappos “Insider.”
If they happen to catch the attention of the company recruiters, they have a shot at a job with the company, as they will be the first candidates who will be considered for an opening. According to Bailen, the goal is to foster a long-term relationship before hire, as opposed to a short-sighted “affair.” Indeed, the landing page for “Inside Zappos” affirms that the company wants “to get to know who you really are and not let our first meeting just be through a job posting.”
Zappos expects folks to jump onboard and hopes to see an increase in potential candidates. As part of the new system, its recruiters will use specialized software from Ascendify, a talent-acquisition technology company, to assist in sorting out the “Insiders” on the basis of skill sets or personal interest. The Insiders will then be pointed into certain “pipelines” as a result of the data collected, such as merchandising or engineering.
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The hope is that implementing the software will free up recruiters so that they can spend time interacting with candidates in an effort to explore whether the prospective hires are a “good fit.” For example, they will conduct digital Q&As or online contests. Also, they anticipate being able to follow up on in-house employee recommendations.
So, while this unique strategy sounds in line with Zappos’ culture of “Tu-tu Tuesdays” and “Kilt Fridays,” the question is whether this plan is going to work. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Zappos’ ultimate goal is to fix a common human resources headache. Namely, Zappos wants to facilitate the hiring process by keeping a pool of motivated candidates ready for hire when the need arises.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, more on Zappos’ new recruiting strategy, plus a great deal when you order the new HR Playbook, Employee Retention and Satisfaction: How to Attract, Retain, and Engage the Best Talent at Your Organization.