(This article appeared previously on AOLJobs.com.)
Online shoe retailer Zappos has just eliminated job postings from its recruitment strategy. Instead, people interested in working for the company must join its exclusive social network and become a "Zappos Insider" so they can connect with employees and demonstrate their passion for the firm as a way to help the hiring team determine if they are a fit for their corporate culture.
More Work to Get Work
For many people reading this, there will be a gut-wrenching cringe, and then the words "Ugh. Are you serious?" running through their brains. The idea of having to befriend employees and openly profess your love to an online crowd could bring back some not-so-pleasant high school memories. Jocks, nerds, band members, etc. Is this the direction hiring is headed?
For those who feel an instant connection with the Zappos approach to hiring and admire what they do to keep top talent (check out their benefits and corporate culture and you'll see why so many people want to work there), signing on and trying to impress the hiring team will seem like a no-brainer.
Many job seekers would much rather play the Zappos game then take their chances on the outdated method of submitting a resumé and cover letter — especially when studies show their applications are far more likely to get tossed into a big black hole that way.
Those who find the idea uncomfortable, need not apply. It may feel like a form of discrimination, but there's no way around it. Creating an insider's club as part of the hiring process simply allows you to decide if you want to compete.
Who'll Follow in Zappos' Footsteps
The reality is most companies don't have the HR staff or budget to do what Zappos is doing. However, that doesn't mean they won't be trying to create a more interactive way for you to connect with them.
Many are using LinkedIn's new Careers Page feature as way for you to follow them. It's a great option for staying on top of news related to a company you want to work for. It also lets you see the profiles of other employees and lets company recruiters access your profile. In short, if there's a company you want get hired by, you better be following it on LinkedIn.
(MORE: The No. 1 Way to Get Hired Today)
3 Things Job Applicants Should Do
To adapt to Zappos' new strategy when job-hunting you'll need to:
1. Study-up on employers and your competition.
2. Be able to effectively showcase your skills.
3. Have incredible confidence and believe you are worthy of the job.
Ironically, all of the above are needed to play professional sports. Now, it appears the corporate landscape is proving to become equally competitive. To win, you'll need to step up.
J.T. O'Donnell is a career and workplace expert who founded the top-ranked career advice site, CAREEREALISM.com. In 2009, she launched CareerHMO, the first on-line career care membership site which specializes in curing chronic career pain.
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This article is reprinted with permission from AOL.com. © 2013 AOL.com. All Rights Reserved.