There's a small revolution building in the business world, spearheaded by people like Liz Ryan of Human Workplace and Stacy Donovan Zapar of Zappos. It's a paradigm shift in the way employees and potential employers interact. In the future these two business leaders envision, the day of the job board is over, and cover letters have gone the way of the dodo. What's interesting is that they're coming at the same problem from opposite sides of the table, and arriving at pretty much the same place.
Liz Ryan approaches the issue from the point of view of the job seeker. I've mentioned "Pain Letters" before -- Liz Ryan is their creator. To that she adds what she calls the Human-Voiced Resume, aimed at taking your resume beyond a simple list of who-what-where and turning it into an accurate look at the person behind it. It's revelation she came to when an applicant for a job she was hiring for wrote on his resume, "Other: Unusually wicked sense of humor for a Finance person." [Click here for the whole story on Liz's LinkedIn page.] Liz's strategy, in short, is to avoid the hell of keyword-based "applicant tracking systems" by writing directly to the the actual boss, not the HR department. You don't apply for an opening; you tell them why having you on the team would be to their advantage. The expectation is that the boss will see the human and not the buzzwords, giving you a leg up.
Stacy Zapar is in charge of "Social Recruiting and Employer Branding" at Zappos. Why does an employer need to brand itself? That's her weapon in the hiring revolution. Zappos has done away with job postings. Instead, they've developed teams, like the Creative Services Team, the Marketing Team, or the Administrative team. They've invited potential employees to become "Zappos Insiders," and through social media like Facebook and Twitter, the current Zappos employees and managers interact with people who've expressed interest in their teams. Everyone gets an idea of what everyone is like, and when an opening comes up, they don't post a boring old keyword-infested "help wanted" listing on a job board. Instead, the Customer Loyalty manager says, "Hey, that guy Bob, he's expressed an interest, he seems to fit the culture, and from what we've seen he can do the job. Let's get him in for an interview."
The big difference between these two is that Liz Ryan is asking a job seeker to step outside the usual comfort zone and take the risk of offending a potential employer. It is, she says, a risk worth taking. Stacy Zapar, on the other hand, has repurposed social interactions in such a way as to make the job seeker feel like they are already part of the team, they're just waiting for the hiring letter to arrive. In both cases, however, they advocate re-humanizing the hiring process, and getting back to the days when employers looked at the person first and the resume later.
This posting is also posted simultaneously on my LinkedIn space.