The New Ways Fashion Companies Are Recruiting in 2016
In April of last year, the cult-favourite retailer Everlane posted an image of a stylish desk setup to Instagram and asked its followers what to ask social media coordinator candidates that would be coming in for interviews that week. It was an unusual move, but one so apt it seemed crazy no one had done it before—after all, who better to grill the candidates than those followers who know Everlane’s social presence best?
It was capped off by the hashtag #RadicalTransparency, a cornerstone of the brand, which has gained a huge following through its use of fair labour practices, sustainable manufacturing, and well-made, stylish essentials that don’t break the bank. On top of this, its website outlines the exact cost of the raw materials that go into each piece, offering some refreshing price context in a market that prefers to keep such information hidden.
In keeping with this ethos, Everlane took its hiring transparency up a notch in May when the company began recruiting job candidates via Snapchat. In lieu of the traditional résumé, it posted on job site Lever, Everlane believes that a Snapchat story makes for “the best way to get hired in 2016.” So much so, it turns out, that 8 out of 10 employees working at its Shoe Park campus were scouted with help from stories on the app.
So what prompted this unique move? “Using social media to hire happened organically,” Everlane’s social media lead, Red Gaskell, explains to me. "When we moved into our new office we posted photos of it on Instagram. People would comment things like ‘workspace goals,’ or ‘I wish I could work there.’ That was a strong signal to us that social could be a place for hiring.” To test the waters, the company began posting open roles on its social channels and quickly noticed that those posts were both high in engagement and created a spike in applications. When they started using Snapchat in 2014, direct messages about working for the brand started rolling in. “People have sent in snaps that walked us through presentations and portfolios. After receiving a few, we thought, let's make this an actual way people can apply.”
But social recruiting appears to offer more than just a cool new medium for learning about potential hires—it makes for a more knowledgeable hiring pool itself. “Our biggest brand advocates are following us on these platforms and therefore already have a connection to our brand,” Gaskell points out, resulting in job candidates who truly engage with the company on a daily basis, instead of, say, those rifling through hundreds of listings on a jobs site who may be less familiar with Everlane’s vision.
Although Everlane is the first major fashion brand to adopt this policy for long-term hires, another tech-forward company, Nasty Gal, has been known to recruit its interns via social media. Explaining this decision two years ago on its blog, Nasty Gal wrote: “We’re not ones to do anything the conventional way—least of all when it comes to recruiting. It takes some guerrilla techniques to assemble this classified group of weirdos, and for our latest opening in the Social Media department, we’re pulling out all the stops—by finding our next intern via Snapchat.” Applicants were then instructed to send the company a snap sharing an example of what they’d do in the role—a seemingly simple process, but one that likely requires a lot of creativity to stand out.
Designer Tamara Mellon, in the midst of a major business relaunch that has her moving her namesake brand from New York to Los Angeles, is also throwing out the traditional hiring rulebook. During a career chat at Platform in Culver City today, with Who What Wear’s very own CEO Katherine Power, Mellon will allow guests to apply for a job on her new team. “The new business is completely different from traditional luxury fashion,” Mellon tells me. “Finding the right people is crucial to building [that]. I thought What better way to find my new team than by inviting candidates to an event?”
When I mention that another fresh method—social recruiting—is gaining steam in the industry, she doesn’t seem surprised: “Traditional recruiting can feel less human, less serendipitous, and often edits out incredible people who have new and different ways of working.” For fashion companies like Mellon’s, looking to break new ground in an industry long tied to the past, it appears that disrupting the hiring process itself could be key.