Zappos, the online shoe and apparel retailer acquired by Amazon in 2009, is known for its stellar customer service and innovative people practices (such as doing away with job titles). The company is now creating waves with its new hiring policy: requiring all job applicants to join its social network.
All applicants must sign up for Zappos Insider, an online “talent community,” where they will be expected to “network with current employees and demonstrate their passion for the company—in some cases publicly—in hopes that recruiters will tap them when jobs come open,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Zappos’ goal, recruitment experts say, is for the company to cultivate a group of loyal employee hopefuls it can tap on short notice. It’s also a way for the company to weed out applicants who aren’t attuned to using social media to interact and promote themselves—something many online-based companies now expect of their employees.
Because Zappos expects the number of “Insiders” to be large, it is using talent-acquisition software called Ascendify to sort them based on skill sets and personal interests and help steer them toward particular areas of the company, whether engineering or merchandising. Recruiters for the company will scout out which Insiders would be a good cultural fit using digital Q&As and contests, the Journal reports.
Many small businesses already use social media to assess job applicants, whether checking out their Facebook profiles or reading through their Twitter feeds. But Zappos' new Insiders network takes social-media-based hiring to a whole new level by expecting applicants to continually interact in the online community. The hope is it will give the company much better insights into a prospective employee's true nature.
Professional staffing services firm Robert Half points out that while social-media recruiting can be an effective way for companies to find talent, there can be risks to relying too heavily on it. For one, employers shouldn’t let social media interactions trump more traditional face-to-face interviews and assessment tools.
“The quality of a candidate's interpersonal skills are increasingly important to small businesses—even in non-customer-facing positions such as many accounting and finance jobs—since teamwork and the need to communicate with others throughout the company has risen in importance,” Robert Half writes, adding, “These aren't attributes an employer can accurately evaluate on a Facebook or LinkedIn page.”
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