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Zapping Jobseeker Spam

By June 5, 2014No Comments

There’s been a ton of publicity over the past week or so since Zappos announced their new careers page Zappos Insider and the fact they will no longer be posting vacancies on job boards. What has been widely acclaimed as a brave and game changing move (but something that Air New Zealand have been doing for quite a while already, I believe) is intended to compel the internal recruiters there to build, nurture and engage with talent communities rather than rely on the more reactive approach of posting vacancies online after roles come open.

Lots has already been said on the main topic such as this slightly fawning but undeniably American blog post that informs and entertains in breathless hyperbole. But it’s the byproduct of this newly adopted approach that has really got me thinking. Stacy Donovan Zapar, the Social Recruiting and Employer Branding Strategist and LINKEDIN’s MOST CONNECTED WOMAN (in case you didn’t know) who clearly got the job because her name so closely resembles her employer’s (just like Arsene Wenger at Arsenal) noted:

“…that Zappos received over 31,000 applications last year, responded to every single person who applied, and hired only 300 of those applicants.”

Sadly, it is actually quite amazing and refreshing to think that every potential candidate and job applicant will be able to build relationships, engage with, and by golly actually talk with the internal recruiters at Zappos.  I say sadly because, taking a step back, that really is how it should always be if you want to be an effective recruiter, but the reality is that it is sadly so rare nowadays.

If you were to ask the general job seeking public they would lay the blame squarely at the door of us recruiters of course. They think we are lazy, corner cutting, money grabbing chancers. Which to be fair some of us are…but mostly we are not. On the whole we don’t always communicate as well as we would like due to the sheer volume of irrelevant and inappropriate applications we get and the mammoth task of responding to every one would mean there’d be no time left to actually recruit for our clients.

I met a recruiter this week who has only just completed 2 years in our industry and, bless him, still feels hurt at the way us recruiters are perceived. He still harbours sufficient wells of empathy to draw on that he attempts to communicate with every single candidate whether suitable or not. This is admirable, but ultimately futile and his clients, and his mental health, are starting to suffer as a result.

Now in my tenth year of recruiting I guess I’ve gradually adopted a more cynical view on this and now respond to unsuitable applicants in a manner directly proportionate to their approach to me.

So, if someone has written a tailored cover letter and given salient reasons why they feel a role in recruitment is the right job for them, I will reply in writing, giving an individually tailored response, or often will call them to hear them out and offer some advice.

If they have clearly just done a keyword search on a job board and hit the send CV button 50 times then I will respond in kind: hit the delete button.

Ultimately though, it’s a pretty sorry state of affairs.  We make it easy for jobseekers to spam us, and in return we spam them with generic rejections, if we actually respond at all.  And that’s what I really like about the new policy at Zappos.  They are requiring their potential candidate pool to put in a bit of effort around engaging and communicating with their recruiters, and are responding in kind.  It sounds like a lot of work, and will be interesting to see if they can pull it off, but ultimately it’s got to be a good thing.

The candidates will feel valued.  And the recruiters?  Well, they’ll feel like recruiters again, something that seems to be getting lost amidst all the fancy technology and automation we keep trying to use.


Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.