Two years ago, in May 2012, I wrote a column titled “The Permanent Job Search.” I wrote that job-hunting has changed, from something you only do when you’re unemployed to something you need to do now, in a broad sense, all the time.
So it was interesting to hear Zappos.com, a major online retailer, announce that it will no longer post job openings. No more Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com ads. No more posting of openings even on its own website. Instead, it is asking future possible employees to just reach out and introduce themselves, before an actual job opening arises. It’s a pushback against the automated, high-volume push-button job searches that some think Monster and CareerBuilder have created.
Zappos will now hire from a group it calls “Zappos Insiders.” You become an Insider by letting the company know you’d like to work there in the future. You start by providing a resume and basic background information to key employees (“Ambassadors”) who head up a department of interest to you – merchandising, finance, marketing and so on. You then stay in casual touch with that ambassador over time. This way, Zappos knows your interest is genuine. When a job does open up, you’ll be a candidate. Click here for their webpage about the program. Zappos says it developed the program because it was getting buried in automated applications, whether the applicant fit the job or not. In some ways it might be true that sites like Monster or CareerBuilder have made this possible. Good and bad, I guess. Good that you can apply for jobs with minimum expense and hassle. Bad that everyone else can, too. (My first column in 2014 linked to a story about openings at McDonald’s that had triggered almost a million applications.)
I suspect other companies will follow Zappos. It’s a return to traditional hiring practices, where people hired people they already knew – friends, current employees, and candidates that stayed in touch over time. Many jobs are filled without advertising anyway.
I don’t know if Zappos’ idea is the right solution. I can imagine ways it might be misused – as a tool to exclude, rather than include, for example. But it’s a reminder that career advancement is now a 24/7, “always on” activity. And it’s a reminder that reaching out on a personal level, one-to-one, is still a good way to find that career job you’ve always wanted.