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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall

It's better to
do a few things
really well than
than to do
a lot of things
If you can't
make the necessary
commitments of
time and energy
to your
scale back
your plan.
John Sumser

© 2013 interbiznet.
All Rights Reserved.

Materials written
by John Sumser
© TwoColorHat.
All Rights Reserved.

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    Death Of The Resume (From the Vault)

    (January 21, 2000) We've been asking people some simple questions recently.
    • Have You Recently Prepared A Resume?
    • How Long Did It Take?
    • Was There Any Pleasure Involved?
    • When Do You Plan To Do It Again?
    In general, anyone who has recently created a resume felt like they were forced to do so as a part of the job hunt. It took from one day to two weeks to accomplish. No one liked doing it. Almost everyone would rather not do it again.


    Resumes are a baby boom era invention. They require a massive effort and a change in focus. The only people who enjoy creating them seem to found small businesses devoted to the subject. They obscure more than they disclose. They seem to require a kind of behavior that resembles outright lying.

    Have you ever seen a resume that said..."In my last assignment, I screwed up the following things...Here's what I learned?" It very rarely happens. It's more likely that a resume will describe the accomplishment of an entire team instead of the accomplishments of an individual.

    Resumes make their creators feel inadequate. The conventional wisdom says (roughly) "Get it all on one page; Tailor it to each opportunity; Emphasize Managerial Behavior; Show that you took responsibility; Provide evidence of problem solving skills." Most people, however, don't spend their time analyzing their track records in terms of how it will look on their Resume. People who do make lousy employees for the most part.

    We're tempted to think that the Resume was designed as a tool to create entry barriers on a market that featured an overabundance of workers and a scarcity of jobs. Because it forces people to characterize themselves in ways that are unnatural, almost no one feels really good about their Resume. No one wants to do it again.

    In a labor market characterized by the need for speed, the Resume is an obvious target for reengineering. Given the flawed information that a standard resume contains and the pain it generates, we're expecting to see relatively rapid changes as the software required to manage non-resume profiles gets better.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Sharecropping (From the Vault)

    (January 20, 2000) Today's Recruiting models are driven by the search for targets of opportunity. Lack of prior planning keeps Recruiters operating in an extremely reactive mode. The early successes of web based Recruiting were due, in part, to the fact that temporary shifts in visibility made some kinds of Recruiting easier for a moment. The combination of early victories and a predisposition towards quick solutions conspire to keep an effective long term approach out of reach.

    After the American Civil War, sharecropping was common in the war-ravaged Southern economy. Landlords provided land, seed, and credit. Sharecroppers, initially former slaves, contributed labor and received a share of the crop's value, minus their debt to the landlord. The system's abuses included emphasis on single cash crops, high interest charges, and cropper irresponsibility. The system further eroded the South's chances for a rapid recovery by ruining the land and delaying the investment required for long term infrastructure development.

    Like today's predominant Recruiting model, sharecropping focused on quick turn opportunities and near term cash. The system provided disincentives for long term planning, maintenance of assets and stable supply management. The result, in a very short time, was an acceleration of the decline begun by the war. The South's recovery took much, much longer than it should have.

    While aggressive direct marketing will always have a role in the Recruiting marketplace, the demographics demand a much more substantial approach. Recruiting is more than the picking of low hanging fruit. It's more than simply filling the immediate opening. Responsible Recruiting involves both filling the immediate need and ensuring the long term supply.

    It's very early in the next generation of Recruiting. Harvesting techniques, driven by the Internet, are changing. Giddy with the results, the early entrants appear to be overlooking the next problem. After the new land has been aggressively farmed, how do you ensure the viability of the next crop? We think the farming metaphor, with its obvious extensions into crop rotation, stock management, land preparation and maintenance, tilling, allowing a field to lie fallow and survival in times of drought bear some reflection.

    While the correlation isn't perfect, it is clear that today's Internet Recruiting models resemble sharecropping. The consequences of sharecropping (short term gain at the expense of long term success) are worth considering carefully.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Generation Gap? (From the Vault)

    (January 19, 2000) Remember the "Generation Gap"? In the sixties, some white kids and their parents lost the ability to communicate with each other. Driven by fundamental demographics (the baby boom was taking control of its purchasing power), the culture felt charged and changing. Between fashion, music, the Civil Rights movement and anti-war protests and changing hairstyles, things got squirrelly to the point that the military was used to maintain order.

    In those days, culture was pretty monolithic. Three television networks, two political parties, one kind of bread, three car companies, clear racial boundaries, low divorce rates, factory jobs and no computers or Internet. A broad based Generation Gap was easy to see because, outside a very limited range of possibility, a thing was either mainstream or it wasn't.

    It's not so easy to describe the situation today. The media is fractured and audiences are smaller. Commonality and the sense of national community are under constant assault. Talking about the characteristics of a "generation" doesn't really make a lot of sense just yet.

    The good news is that the confrontational violence of the 60's generation gap will probably never manifest itself in today's culture. Although the Generation Y group is roughly the same size as the Boomer group, they are a significantly smaller percentage of the population. Coupled with the growth in cultural diversity, youth movements are liable to be too diffuse to gain enough traction to make the news.

    That's not to say that there isn't a crisis of equal or greater proportion. It just means that the energy seems to be staying below the "radar". We're coming to the conclusion that the Gap is actually larger this time around. The implications for a Recruiter working the entry level (and first move) end of the spectrum are enormous.

    Spike Lee, the young black movie director, is responsible for the latest round of Recruiting commercials for the US Navy. With a couple of years of 15% staffing shortfalls under their belts, the Navy is motivated to try almost anything. The new spots feature surprising takes on military service designed to really sell to an extremely targeted demographic.

    Jon Katz' stories on Slashdot.org (including The Price of Being Different) cover this gap from the perspective of the groups of kids who are seen as "different" (geeks and Goths). Unfortunately for businesses in need of a constant supply of technical help, current social pressures are moving intelligent, technically oriented kids away from the technical career track. The frontlines in the 21st Century Generation Gap are teachers, parents and school systems who are ill-prepared to manage the breadth of diversity enabled by Internet access and multimedia communications.

    Without offering much in the way of solutions, we suggest that you read the stories on Slashdot.

    Here's a small sample:

    Geeks, perhaps more accustomed to free expression than their non-wired peers, increasingly and disturbingly refer to schools as "fascistic" environments in which they are censored and oppressed. All kids can't have absolute freedom all the time but many kids, especially older ones raised in the Digital Age, need more than they're getting. Without it, they will become increasingly alienated.

    A gaming website like PlanetQuake gets more than 70,000 visitors a day; Planet Halflife gets about 30,000. GameSpy, which helps gamers connect to local games, draws between 60,000 and 80,000. Estimates of online gamers in the United States alone run as high as 15 to 20 million people. The half-baked notion that this activity sparks kids to grab lethal weapons and murder their peers sends a particular kind of message to the millions of kids gaming on and off-line -- that the people responsible for educating and protecting them (politicians, therapists, journalists, educators - have no idea what they are talking about, and are posturing in the most ignorant and self-serving ways. It's hard to imagine a more alienating lesson for the young than that.

    From The Price of Being Different by Jon Katz on Slashdot.org

    In the near term, this generational dissonance will be the determining factor in the war for talent.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Success Stories (From the Vault)

    (January 18, 2000) On a plane from Phoenix to Boston, we had the good fortune to share a cramped exit row with two people who were flying to job interviews. Although they didn't know each other and they were after different things (one sales and one technical), there was a great deal of similarity in their stories.

    Under 25, they both learned to look for work using the web as a part of their college education. They had never looked for a job any other way. They had both found their first engagements online and expected to continue finding work this way until they were "middle managers". They wanted to relocate to bigger cities (better money). Neither of them wanted or understood stock options.

    With our noses so close to the industry, it's hard to remember that just five short years ago, the idea of looking for a job online was constrained to a geeky subset who used DICE, Monster, Career Mosaic or the newsgroups. These days, Margaret Riley's famous FAQ is a part of the rites of passage from college to the work world. The change has been astonishing and rapid.

    What was most interesting about their stories was that they had both found the jobs they were pursuing on local Job Boards. The companies they were going to visit had been clever enough to understand that their target candidates lived in certain geographies and would be likely to look for work in the local markets. Both companies, located in Boston, were small firms with no national reputations. "It was something about the way the job was described."

    We've come a long way in a short time. Although our articles are often critical of the current Online Recruiting model, it's worth remembering that the Industry's progress is nothing short of amazing. These two young job hunters represent a generation (many of whom are already in the market) who have always assumed that the online world was the way to find opportunity.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Applicants and Candidates (From the Vault)

    (January 17, 2000) Mental models are hard to shake. We get used to thinking that something has to be done in a certain way and allow that mindset to determine our perception of possible solutions. More than half of the problems associated with integrating the web into Recruiting practice has to do with this confusion. The process we use to Recruit may or may not be a firmly fixed part of the landscape.

    The swamp of material that results from an ad on a job board is a simple example. Most job hunters don't think about the fact that on line responses to job ads tend to be aggregated into databases before they are processed. As a result, it is the norm to get several copies of an applicant's resume if a number of similar jobs are posted in a large job board. When those resumes are transported into the Recruiter's database, each one incurs some element of tracking cost. Given the fact that most resume management firms still charge by the resume (or some equivalent) the Internet 'noise' factor can become a significant expense.

    Although the language remains unclear, we think it might be a good idea to begin making a distinction between applicants and candidates. Unfortunately, most of the tools in use are called "Applicant" tracking systems (due in large part to EEO reporting requirements). If a Recruiter is required to maintain tracking of all applicants (spam, irrelevant, duplicate and so on), costs will do nothing but rise. If, on the other hand, a line is drawn between candidates and applicants (a candidate being someone who is actually under consideration and an applicant being just that) an interesting possibility arises.

    A database of applicants doesn't need the same attention to maintenance and procedure as the database of candidates. Rather than spending tons of time cleaning up the database of applicants, why not let it grow. Storage space is cheap, duplicates are easy to spot. By dedicating a single machine to all incoming applicants, lots of current tracking costs could be eliminated. When its time to find a candidate, just dip into the easy to use search interface. Problems of document standardization and relevance disappear if the applicant pool is fished rather than farmed.

    - John Sumser

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