Zappos: Don't send resumes, join our social network instead

a bunch of people standing around Zappos reception desk
Credit: Robert Scoble

Job seekers and recruiters, rejoice. The death of job postings and cover letters may be nigh.

Zappos is trying out a radical new way to recruit talent, with the help of a talent acquisition social media platform built by Ascendify.

Typically you hear about the intersection of social media and human resources when companies opt against hiring people -- or decide to fire someone -- after visiting their Facebook pages. This time, however, Zappos is embracing social media as a way to try to better engage with talent.

Mike Bailen, senior HR manager at Zappos, wrote about the experiment recently on, a website for recruiters. He described a scenario at Zappos that probably sounds familiar to many companies these days. Zappos recruiters were spending five to seven seconds looking at a resume. Out of 31,000 people who applied for jobs at the company last year, Zappos hired 1.5 percent. That's a waste of 

Using the Ascendify platform, Zappos is now inviting people to join a social network where they can interact with recruiters. Zappos plans to do away with job descriptions entirely. Some are still on the site but Bailen said, in the comments after his post, that the company is in the process of phasing them out.

"Zappos Insiders will have unique access to content, Google Hangouts, and discussions with recruiters and hiring teams. Since the call-to-action is to become an Insider versus applying for a specific opening, we will capture more people with a variety of skill sets that we can pipeline for current or future openings," he wrote.

People join by signing into the network with their Facebook or LinkedIn credentials or they can sign in directly with an email address. Signing in with Facebook or LinkedIn lets Zappos point out if you know someone who works at the company who might offer a referral. Users will also be able to upload their resumes.

Zappos is using a platform built especially for recruiting by Ascendify. It offers backend tools that let recruiters track and manage people using the social network. 

Recruiters commenting on Bailen's post had mixed reactions to the plan. Many were very supportive. "I applaud your creative disruption," wrote Rob McIntosh in the comments section. 

Others were skeptical.

"Good talent sourcers are always proactive and don’t depend on job postings to find and engage candidates, anyway," wrote Glenn Gutmacher, a recruiter at Avanade.

Tracy Brisson, who now runs a recruitment consulting agency, said that she implemented a similar system while at the New York City Department of Education where teachers joined an online community where they could interact with hiring managers. "We found that applicants really valued the transactional nature of the old job description/application process, even taking into consideration flaws in our process. I have a feeling you will find that also as you roll out your changes and might consider a hybrid," she wrote in the comments.

Getting rid of job postings altogether may set Zappos apart from other companies but adopting social tools to try to be more efficient at recruiting may become a new trend. Ascendify counts Deloitte, GE, Panasonic, and TeachForAmerica among its customers.

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