If You Want to Work at Zappos, You'll Have to Join the Club (or at Least, Their Social Network)

Want to work at the company that brought you next-day shoe delivery and free returns? You'll have to join Zappos Insiders, the organization's new social network dedicated to networking with current and future Zappos employees. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports, the social network will be the only way to get hired for one of the estimated 450 jobs the online retailer expects to fill this year.

Zappos 

(Photo Credit: TechCocktail/Flickr)

Michael Bailen, who handles talent acquisition for Zappos, tells The Wall Street Journal that the social network is intended to deal with the unique needs of a company that doesn't fit with the "transactional" nature of the tradition hiring process.

In 2013, the company interacted with 31,000 job applicants and hired only 1.5 percent. The seven-person recruiting team was overwhelmed and unable to interact in a "purposeful" way, Bailen said.

The new way of recruiting will put the onus on prospective employees to impress Bailen and his team with their passion for the company. The recruiting team will create Q&As and contests for potential hires, which they'll administer through Zappos Insiders.

The question, of course, is whether this is better or worse for job seekers than the usual way of doing business.

Potential Pros:

  • You'd never have to worry about sending your resume into a black hole, never to be heard from again.
  • No cover letters. (Ugh, cover letters. The awkward first date of the job searching experience.)
  • Could be a more natural-feeling experience, as most of us are now more used to interacting on social networks than at cocktail parties and professional mixers.

Potential Cons:

  • An employer's social network is not the same thing as Twitter or Facebook. Could take a while for job seekers to figure out the right tone and behavior on a network that's neither as formal as a traditional application nor as casual as independent social media.
  • It's one more social network to join and manage, in an era when we're all overcommitted, online and everywhere else. Plus, any company or website can be hacked. (As Zappos knows from experience.) Users will need to remember that they've joined the network, even if they get a job elsewhere, if only to change their passwords in case of a breach.
  • A social network is inherently more interactive than a recruiting inbox, but exactly how interactive will depends on the time constraints of those who maintain it. If Bailen's team and the other Zappos employees are able to find the bandwidth to devote a lot of energy to Insiders, it could be rewarding experience for everyone involved ... but only if they consistently have the time and energy to do so.

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