Is Zappos Zapping of Job Listings Really Smart – or Fair?

I’m a fan of Zappos.

I like the customer service model. I like their blog. I visited their headquarters near Las Vegas before most people knew the company existed.

Unfortunately, I am not a fan of their new hiring strategy, which asks applicants to join a social network, called Zappos Insiders, where they will 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.

Is zapping job posts a smart thing to do?

Supposedly, this forum will yield better outcomes for the company. They are sick of paying to post jobs on external websites like or Careerbuilder. This single hub will serve as a portal where you — a job seeker — can impress recruiters, share your bona fides and make the case that you want to work at Zappos more than anything else in the world.

Hmm. I dunno.

First of all, posting your job on a job board is an effective way to find candidates and hire people. Niche job boards, in particular, are great. Job boards are just a different social network.

But OK, fine, don’t post your jobs. I don’t care. I like the Internet. I’ve been teaching social recruiting classes since 2009.

I just wonder — do you have different standards for different people? Do you have one set of rules for those who make $13.25/hr, but treat your “professional” class of candidates in a different way? How will your practices shape the look and feel of your future workforce?

And what about people without fast and reliable access to the Internet? And what about others who might have the appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities to work at Zappos but face personal challenges that would preclude them from spending time on the Internet? How can they demonstrate a passion for the brand (whatever the hell that means)?

Just another hoop to jump through

How do you deal with someone who doesn’t have time for this nonsense and just wants a good job? And wouldn’t you prefer to hire someone who doesn’t have time for this nonsense?

And how do you make sure that your new portal doesn’t become a place where candidates fight to the death — Thunderdome-style – for the right to work the midnight shift?

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I sound cynical — remember, guys, I like Zappos — but I’m not stupid, either.

This move away from job posts is yet another arrogant, cost-cutting measure wrapped in a veil of benevolence.

“You’re doing me a favor by making me jump through a different — but equally stupid – hoop to get a job? Oh, thank you!”

But it’s Zappos, Laurie! Can’t you shut up for a minute? It’s fun!”

Yeah, OK, it’s a fun brand. I still want to know — does this strategy feel fair or transparent? Do fairness and transparency matter, anymore?

This was originally published on the Laurie Ruettimann blog.


Laurie Ruettimann (LFR) is a former Human Resources leader turned influential speaker, writer and strategist. She owns a human resources consultancy that offers a wide array of HR services to human resources leaders and executives. Check out her LinkedIn profile here. You may know Ruettimann as the creator of The Cynical Girl and Punk Rock HR (retired), which Forbes named as a top 100 website for women. You may have also read her book, I AM HR: 5 Strategic Ways to Break Stereotypes and Reclaim HR. (RepCap Press, 2014.) 


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