There is a basic truth in business and work culture: how you hire (or don’t hire) reflects a company culture that could help or harm your brand. Now, we don’t typically think about hiring as a part of our company’s culture, especially when it comes to those that we don’t hire. Why would we? The truth is, however, that how you treat people, from their position as potential hires to also-rans in the hiring process, carries a lot of weight in terms of how people in and out of your company view you.
Zappos and Social Media
When candidates apply for a position at your company, they want to know that their application means something to the process. They don’t need to be coddled during a job search, but they value transparency and clear communication so that they know where they stand.
Zappos is a great example of this. First, we’ll note that Zappos doesn’t just use a single media channel for hiring, but multiple social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, a blog, Pinterest, Instagram, and their own job portal as part of a comprehensive media presence.
So how does this help potential candidates?
Well, candidates get a clear picture of Zappos corporate culture from the perspective of internal recruiters, employees, and executives:
Internal recruiters and outreach executives:Each weak, Zappos fields a “Social VIP” that works with a hand-selected partner to handle content on the Zappos Twitter account and blog. These individual shares personal stories about their tenure with Zappos and fields questions from candidates on Twitter. These VIPs are often partnered with a recruiter to help them answer specific questions. Following this, the VIP also posts a blog post that goes into more detail about their personal experiences at Zappos, including personal photos and anecdotes.
Employees:Employees are regularly featured on social media like Instagram and Pinterest so that candidates can see how the company culture works.
Higher-level executives are often found commenting on, or writing content for, the Zappos LinkedIn page. On LinkedIn, these individuals are both sharing and commenting on business news related to the company while sharing a higher-level understanding of the culture and values that make up Zappos.
This kind of recruiting approach can seem exhausting but fills an important gap for many job candidates: transparency.
Transparency and the Job Search
All these layers of engagement signal to candidates more than just a fun work culture. They signal a culture of transparency and sharing that extends beyond the internal staff. A Clear Company article discusses how transparency can contribute significantly to candidate satisfaction with the hire process, which in turn makes candidates feel more likely to apply to a company.
Zappos, in publishing so much about its culture and expectations, also communicates a culture of transparency and helpfulness to potential candidates. In turn, candidates will feel more comfortable with a hiring process in which they feel they will be supported.
Now, you might wonder why you should care about the satisfaction of a candidate. There are a couple of reasons why:
A candidate you don’t hire can talk just as much about your company as one that you do. For example, if a candidate has a difficult time applying for a position, or if they find that they are ignored, shut out, or simply marginalized throughout the process, then they aren’t going to have nice things to say about the company.
Once the word gets out that your hiring process is opaque and difficult, you might scare off great candidates before you get a chance to show them who you are.
At this point, once you’ve disregarded the candidate, you’ve sent a message that your company doesn’t much value candidates. It isn’t too much of a stretch for future candidates to get the gist and simply not apply. Your lack of transparency has potentially lost you talented employees and put the word out that you might not be a great place to work. And, as studies in hiring psychology have shown, a good hiring culture can positively impact how you can assess the best qualities of a candidate.
Culture and Hiring
More subtly, your hiring and recruiting process reflects a deeper culture. Zappo’s focus on its transparency shows potential candidates that working for Zappos is just that: open, transparent, and communicative.
Why’s that important? Well, we can start with the above-mentioned reasons in terms of hiring. Hyrell notes that by de-prioritizing your HR process, you’re giving up on leading your industry (and your competition) in a way that will land you better employees.
Beyond that, it can be a symptom of something deeper in your organization. Let’s go back to Zappo’s to discuss.
One of the key aspects of the Zappos hiring process is that it brings people from the company together through various channels, all focusing in on opening the doors to the company’s work culture. It just so happens that the culture is fun and inviting, but even were it not the effort to pull back the curtain shows a respect for employees and their opinions inherent to the company’s mission and values.
And that’s really what’s at stake. What kind of culture do you want to display, and what kind of culture are you able to display.
Growing a Culture Through Mindfulness
There are many articles that argue companies should hire for cultural fit. But it's not as easy as you might think. How do you even know what kind of culture your company has? As hiring manager, it's your job to keep your ear to the ground and listen. Listen to what people talk about in the break room. Observe how people interact. Look at the connections people form at work. What kind of feeling do you get from your office? This means listening carefully to your employees and letting the company culture reveal itself. Even if you have an arcade machine or a foosball table in your break room, you may have stressed-out employees if you don't listen carefully.
The next step to building a culture you want is to practice your active, mindful listening skills during interviews. You don't have to ask someone about their favorite animal to know what kind of person they are if you really pay attention to their responses and listen. If you get the chance, have your prospective employee work around the office in a temporary role, so they have time to reveal what kind of person they are and how they fit around the office.
The final step is to carry that mindfulness out into an organized hiring process. You don’t have to be Zappos to start cultivating open and actively engaged hiring practices:
If you start to think about hiring as an extension of your best practices, you’ll get better candidates, happier long-term employees, and a competitive edge in your industry.
Corley, Kelly, “Why Hiring Transparency Will Make or Break Your Candidate Experience”, Recruiting and Hiring Blog for Professionals, hyrell.com, March 8 2016, https://www.hyrell.com/blog/why-hiring-transparency-will-make-or-break-your-candidate-experience.
“Using Psychology Tools to Hire the Best Employees”, The USC Dornsife Online Masters in Applied Psychology Blog, https://appliedpsychologydegree.usc.edu/blog/using-psychology-tools-to-hire-the-best-employees
Woolf, Sylvia, “Taking Advantage of the Transparency Trend in the Hiring Process”, Clear Company, clearcompany.com, https://blog.clearcompany.com/taking-advantage-of-the-transparency-trend