Zappos.com
Zappos.com
File photo

Zappos will no longer post job listings, Michael Bailen, the company’s HR manager, said in a post on recruiting website ERE.net.

The Amazon-owned, Las Vegas-based online shoe retailer sees the move as a way to move its recruiting toward personal relationships and networking. Job listings, Bailen said, put too much focus on the listing and not enough on the people who might fill the very job being listed.

After a few sleepless nights, lots of brainstorming, and some liquid courage, we decided the answer is to shut off job postings. Yes, you read that right. No job postings. Let's not let our first interaction be through a crappy job description and a lifeless resume. Let's remove the front door that keeps us catatonically busy. And most importantly, let's put people first.

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In traditional postings’ stead, Bailen said, Zappos is taking its recruiting efforts in a different direction. It has launched a new careers site, called Inside Zappos, as well as corresponding social media accounts, meant to help showcase the company’s culture and allow interested candidates to chat with people at the company. Interested candidates sign up as “insiders” and are given the opportunity to connect with employees who are already at the company and, in theory, build a relationship with Zappos. If there’s a fit, there’s a fit—no job listing needed.

“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,” Bailen writes.

The change reflects a couple of trends in recruiting. Namely, there’s been a lot of chatter in recent months about making careers pages more attractive, easier to use, and more capable of showing off the company’s culture.

That’s part of a broader trend in emphasizing the “candidate experience,” or treating candidates for jobs well regardless of whether or not you hire them. A poor experience, theory has it, can lead good candidates to shy away from applying to the company again, or even influence them to actively discourage people from applying at the company. In some cases, studies have shown, candidates who report a poor experience might even tell people not to purchase products or services from the company in question.

Zappos seems to believe that job listings themselves lead to a poor candidate experience. Here’s Bailen, again:

Recruiting has become a walking contradiction. We care about the candidate experience, but we spend five to seven seconds looking at a resume. We are dedicated to get[ting] back to all candidates in an effort to provide great service, but the vast majority of candidates get a rejection email.

Bailen notes that the benefits don’t fall solely with the candidates. The company, he says, won’t have to waste as much time poring over resumes only to send rejections. He doesn’t say that Zappos, a company that is regularly recognized as an awesome one to work for, is uniquely positioned to try something like this. If your typical small business did away with job listings, it probably wouldn’t receive very many applications.

And it will be interesting to see if this even makes much of a difference. To become an insider, interested candidates still upload a CV. Though they won’t be responding to a specific job listing, they will still be using the site with a stated goal of working at the company. Perhaps that alone would still take the personal touch out of the recruiting process, akin to a reality TV star acting differently when the cameras are on.

But as a company, Zappos is no stranger to HR experiments. It recently did away with all job titles and the concept of management, becoming one of the better-known companies to institute a “flat” culture. If the company sees a problem with job listings, Zappos is the type to toss them out the window and try something else.