Is Zappos Fair to American Workers?

Is Zappos Fair to American Workers?

By Laurie Ruettimann

is zappos fair to american workers

 

Laurie Ruettimann headshot

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, as The Wall Street Journal explains, “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.”

Supposedly, this forum will yield better outcomes for the company. They are sick of paying to post jobs on external websites like Monster or CareerBuilder. This single hub will serve as a portal where a job seeker can impress recruiters, share bona fides and make a case 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 online? How can they demonstrate a passion for the brand (whatever the hell that means)? 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—or the right to work the midnight shift?

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?

The Conference Board Review is the quarterly magazine of The Conference Board, the world's preeminent business membership and research organization. Founded in 1976, TCB Review is a magazine of ideas and opinion that raises tough questions about leading-edge issues at the intersection of business and society.