“Where are the jobs?”

We often hear elected officials talk about how many jobs were added each month and that there are x number of jobs available in so-and-so sector yet we still have a high number of people who are unemployed. These proclamations of new opportunities have job seekers asking, “Where are the jobs??”

This week the Wall Street Journal reported that Nevada-based technology company Zappos has removed all of its job postings and replaced them with “a social network, called Zappos Insiders, where [candidates] 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.”¹ Their goal is to make the “the hiring process faster and easier by keeping a pool of willing and able candidates at the ready.”² While I applaud Zappos’ efforts to make the hiring process easier, I worry that their proposed system might actually block some job seekers, particularly those that have been unemployed for a long time.

The lack of available information about open positions is something that’s come up frequently in our TechTables – we seem to have an information problem. There may be jobs available but job seekers don’t know where to find them, nor are they aware of what skills are needed for those roles. There are a variety of reasons this problem may exist; perhaps the job seekers don’t know where to look or maybe companies don’t know how to display the information properly. Either way, it’s clear that miscommunication is a major problem that needs to be solved.

Rather than removing job postings, I would urge companies to do the opposite – push their listings out more broadly. This will enable them to expand their candidate pool beyond those in the tech industry and those already familiar with their brand or products. We should be transparent about exactly what positions are available, what skills and qualifications are required, and what the career trajectory may be. As someone who has worked in recruiting, I really like that the Zappos platform allows applicants to network with hiring managers through “digital Q&As or contests;”³ It’s a creative way for the hiring team to get a feel for a candidate’s skills outside of their resume and evaluate what their actual work performance may be. However, there are job seekers out there, specifically those that are long-term unemployed, that don’t have the time to regularly check in to these social networking sites or engage in brain teasers or hackathons. Instead, they will likely spend their time and energy pursuing jobs that they know exist and for which they know they are qualified. Even better, can we combine the two programs, and have both job postings and a social networking aspect? This way, job applicants have transparency in what positions are out there and what skills are required, but can also join the social networking site as a way to stay engaged and updated about what the company is looking for.

The more we separate out and obscure job postings, the harder it is for long-term unemployed job seekers to become aware of open positions and the more time and energy they have to spend searching for them. As Zappos advocates, let’s continue to make the hiring process easier but let’s also keep pushing out more information on what’s out there. The more information that job seekers have, the more successful they can be in their job search. As we’ve discovered in many of our discussions, while transparency is tough, it can be an excellent tool for getting Americans back to work!


¹ Auriemma, A. (2014). Zappos Zaps Its Job Postings. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304811904579586300322355082?mg=reno64-wsj

² Auriemma.


Featured image via http://bid4papers.com/blog/job-search-resources-for-college-students/