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‘Friends Without Benefits’: ‘Job Creators’ Accrue More Terrifying Power

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Posted on May 31, 2014

Photo by p-a-t-r-i-c-k (CC BY 2.0)

Applying for a job you need but don’t really want is bad enough. But now “Zappos, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon, is going to occupy the unemployed for months with (mostly futile) attempts to become virtual ‘friends’ with the online shoe retailer,” Noah McCormack writes at The Baffler.

The Wall Street Journal reported May 26:

Zappos, based in Las Vegas, plans to hire at least 450 people this year, but candidates won’t find out about those jobs on LinkedIn.com, Monster.com or the company website. Instead, they will have to join a social network, called Zappos Insiders, where they 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.

McCormack comments:

Zappos has apparently decided it is no longer good enough to be a qualified hire who is interested in the job. An interested applicant must also spend unremunerated time pretending to engage in virtual social relationships with existing employees. The American economy has become so warped that it now appears reasonable to a subsidiary of a leading public company to require people who may never be hired to spent large amounts of time pretending to be friends with people with whom they may never work.

This represents the convergence of at least three disturbing trends in the current American economy: the long-term unemployment of large numbers of people and the consequent power given to any company which is hiring; the technology industry’s revival of old prejudices under catchy new names; and the way that technology increasingly erodes any sense that our work selves are merely a component of our lives, rather than the entirety of our existence.

As warped as this hiring system is, the Wall Street Journal could only find—or, more likely, only thought to seek—people who praised Zappos’s innovative spirit. Just one booster, the founder of a talent-acquisition consultancy that works with companies including Pepsi and Walmart, said that, while Zappos had made “a move in the right direction . . . it is unclear whether potential candidates will remain engaged with the company if months go by without job opportunities.”

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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