Several days ago, online retailer Zappos announced that it was eliminating job postings. According to the Washington Post,
"It has started a program called Zappos Insider, which it says is “like a special membership” for people who want to learn more about the company and its distinctive culture. Participants will get to chat with Zappos Ambassadors and are promised “top consideration” for job openings. It’s an approach that sounds like it favors prospective employees who are most deeply engaged with the brand. The people likely to take the time to enroll as Zappos Insiders are not the ones who are robo-sending résumés for every opening they see on Monster.com."
Naturally, Zappos received a ton of positive press about this bold and unique move. Zappos has become a favorite of those who are looking for companies that are taking innovative approaches to organization, culture, and leadership. I've visited Zappos myself, and I love many of the things that they do. On this one, though, I have to admit that I am a bit puzzled. I'm glad that I'm not alone. Suzanne Lucas has written a good column for Inc. about Zappos' new initiative. Lucas writes:
Now, I totally agree that online résumé systems are recruiting black holes, but that's not because of job postings. It is because most recruiters stink. Yep. They don't know much about the jobs they are recruiting for, and so they are just playing a matching game. This is why I'll tell candidates to skip over the recruiters, if at all possible, and get to the hiring manager personally. Networking works better than submitting a résumé online. No doubt... Zapar (Zappos' social recruiting leader) says that job postings are conversation killers. I'd say the opposite is true. If a person wants a new job, having a job description is immensely helpful as a conversation starter.
Lucas makes a good point. Job postings don't seem like the essence of the recruiting problem. The process has many flaws, but taking away valuable information that may exist in a well-crafted job posting seems counterproductive. Are some job postings too vague or otherwise flawed? Certainly. However, most do convey some information about the type of opportunities available at the company. Lucas questions the time and resources that will be necessary to operate Zappos Insider as well. Karen Bleier of the Washington Post does the same. Both wonder how Zappos will handle the volume of activity that may arise here.
I would note several additional concerns. Hiring for cultural fit is wonderful. However, does Zappos' initiative increase the likelihood that insiders will hire others who are quite similar to them in many ways? Are certain people simply not going to engage with the firm on this platform, and therefore, will Zappos be missing out on some great talent? Will the best people be presented other opportunities during the time required to cultivate a relationship on Zappos Insider, and perhaps not be willing to wait for an offer from Zappos that may never materialize?