IBN: Defining Excellence in Electronic Recruiting


Please Click On Our Sponsors

Please Click On Our Sponsors

Recruiting News for the Human Resource Professional

Please Click On Our Sponsors

Please Click On Our Sponsors

Please Click On Our Sponsors

Please Click On Our Sponsors




Click On Our Sponsors

Click On Our Sponsors







Find out more
About IBN

Got a news tip?
Tell us at

Recruiting Trends


Recruiting Eyeballs


(Over 60)

Company Job Listings
(Over 4000)

Salary Surveys

SI Stock Index

HR Live
HR Online
Relocation Jnl
Workforce Mag

Email to IBN


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.

Go Home

Click On Our Sponsors

Daily News. Archived Weekly. Click Here For The Current Issue.

The Electronic Recruiting News is a Free Daily Newsletter For Recruiters, HR Managers, Advertising Agencies and Clasified Advertising Operations

Home | ERN | Bugler | The Blogs | Blogroll | Advertise | Archives | Careers
The Bubble (From the Vault)
(January 28, 2000) We've seen a lot of head scratching about the "speculative bubble" in Internet Stocks. In our own tracking, a $1,500 investment (made on August 01, 1999) in companies with strong Internet Recruiting interests was worth about $2,050 (on October 01, 1999). A $650 investment in Traditional Staffing and Search made at the same time was worth about $550 at the end of the trial period. The new view rose 33% over 60 days. The old view declined about 20%. Where would you put your money?

We think that there's a simple explanation for the difference. Of course, we could harp on the maladaptive strategies of the CDI style empires. But, that's just a symptom. The real energy driving the growth in Internet Related stocks (in our industry and others) is a generational leadership changed, financed by the market.

Here's how we see it.

Our generation (the baby boom) developed a British style career and leadership pattern. With no military training, the MBA programs took over the responsibility of producing the (usually) men who ran the major economic institutions (both corporate and government). Capable administrators, they managed the workforce as it absorbed a huge new workforce. Risk aversion, financial security and predictability were the essential elements of governing a large organization. A career involved having a series of experiences (jumping through the right hoops) until a plateau was achieved. The plateau meant sitting in queue until the slot of your aspirations opened through death or promotion of the incumbent. Leadership status (in the smallest increment) was rarely conferred until a prospect was about 30 years old.

It was a great solution for the baby boom.

Unfortunately, the world has changed and the baby boom leaders failed to navigate the change. Although we write often about the economic impact of generational labor shortages, the information was widely available as long as 15 years ago. Rather than prepare their companies and institutions for the future, these "leaders" (administrators, really) indulged in re-engineering, downsizing and other short term maneuvres that left their assets open to plunder at a later date. The short sightedness (similar to the complete absence of cash in the staffing industry) demonstrated these leaders' inability to move their operations into the next generation.

So what's happening?

The market is bestowing leadership capability and the resources with which to execute on the next generation. Rather than waiting, as we did in the baby boom, for the promotions, the next generation of leaders are being identified and funded today. This is the objective that the speculative bubble and venture capital inflows are designed to meet. The market is telling the old school leaders that they have failed. It is giving the next group the opportunity to redesign through policy, acquisition and leadership by example.

It's a refreshing change.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Orchestrated Lunacy (From the Vault)

(January 27, 2000) The essential differences between a "visionary" and a "knucklehead" are timing and money. Only a lunatic believed that man would fly in 1650. At the same time, women were burned at the stake for asserting their rights to independence. The personal computer market was nearly impossible to believe in 1975 (and no one could have predicted the amazing fortunes involved at that time). In 1979, Bill Gates was a squirrely college dropout. "Those Magnificent Young Men In Their Flying Machines" were kooks and dreamers. Who could have predicted the emergence of a telephone (or Internet connection) in every classroom?

In general, there is a sound reason for treating visions with lithium. The status quo provides a safety zone and decision making continuity. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", goes the song of the effective maintainer of the way things are. Like a bull in a china shop, the visionary tends to say "If it ain't broke, break it." When the security and stability of an entire workforce are at risk, the wise thing to do is keep the visionaries at bay. While it may put you out of business tomorrow, it keeps things stable today.

That said, money completely changes things.

Over the next year, some really different things will emerge in our industry. The war chests, brimming from public offerings, productivity improvements and strategic investments are about to produce a level of experimentation in tactics like we've never seen.

We're beginning to believe that HR Departments are starting to see some interesting budget surpluses in their advertising kitties. If the most expensive online advertising campaign (through a job board) runs $50K and you sign up for 10 of them each year, you've spent a month's worth of the old newspaper advertising budget! That leaves an interesting pile available for experiments. It makes the possibility of direct, one to one relationships with key elements of the potential candidate pool a credible option for large players. While we think that current pricing levels are designed to put Job Boards out of business, they are the current price.

If you look around the Recruiting value chain, the opportunities for expansion are skimpy. Applicant Tracking, as a market, is a mere $250M per year with at least 80 players vying for a piece of the pie. Background checking, screening and other administrative services are similarly tiny.

So, what do job boards on an acquisition streak, HR departments in need of better results do with their growing surpluses?

We won't be surprised by much of anything. The industry, after many formative years, is about to begin real experimentation.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

My Dog's Bigger Than Your Dog (From the Vault)

(January 26, 2000) Pretty soon, we're expecting to see a study showing that CareerBordello has the most traffic of any employment website with advertising on the walls of outdoor latrines in Southern Alabama. Over the past months, an odd sort of macho posturing has taken root in the industry. While we understand that it boils down to posturing for investors, we wonder if the players have lost track of who their customers are and what they want.

Take last Fall's offering from the Strategis Group. According to the Press Release, "JobOptions ranked 16th among the top 50 advertisers in a study by The Strategis Group, Inc. Sites were logged based on visibility in a survey of 6,972 ads on the top 50 sites between April and June 1999". (We've archived a copy of the Job Options Release for your amusement.)

Let's dissect the study a wee bit. Essentially, Strategis fielded a research team who looked a 50 websites twice a day for 60 days. The team counted the number of banner ads that they saw during the process. From this endeavor, they concluded that a certain group of companies had the largest advertising presences on the web.

According to the release, Job Options credits their "success" to "its constant presence on the home pages of its co-brand partners like XOOM.com". In other words, the study measures JobOptions success (which we'll grant them) at acquiring free advertising.

Big Deal.

Perhaps these folks haven't heard about radio, television, billboards, newspapers, blimps, superbowls, conferences, tee shirts, and so on. We can easily imagine an equally narrow study that counts the number of logo emblazoned coffee cups in analyst's cubicles. We seem to have to keep quoting Maria Muldaur who said, "It ain't the meat, it's the motion."

Outside of the investment community, no one is interested in these kinds of measurements. What candidates want is an easy to use environment. What customers want is a stream of qualified candidates without a lot of additional noise. We imagine that more than a few customers are turned off by the focus on non-essentials.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Rodney Dangerfield (From the Vault)

(January 25, 2000) "I don't get no respect." While it's clearly the case that not all HR managers are singing the Rodney Dangerfield blues, the stereotypes are pretty amazing. A standard joke told between Advertising reps goes: "If I needed a brain transplant, I'd want an HR Manager's brain. That way, I could be sure that it had never been used." In a recent customer targeting session, we heard the HR professional described as "heart-centric, risk averse, technology averse and survival oriented." It's an amazing dynamic of our Industry that most of the suppliers really don't like their customers.

In our little company, we have the faint glimmers of an HR function. The work consists of the paperwork that our CFO no longer likes to do...payroll, reporting, W2s, W4s, 1099s. As we grow, the function will increasingly be performed by a single person. It's important, we think, to remember that this is the genesis of all HR functions. The most important thing is getting payroll accomplished seamlessly. Administrative excellence and the teamwork required to accomplish that end is at the core of effective HR functions. The very same suppliers who look down their noses at typical HR excellence scream bloody murder when the accounts payable department is slow to pay their checks.

It's not an easy time to be in HR.

Decades of (somewhat silly) emphasis on the Management Fad of The Month (T-Groups, Organizational Development, Quality Circles, TQM, Learning Organizations, Leadership Training, Reengineering, Intranets, Automated Benefit tools) dictated by the CEO have left HR professionals dizzy from conflicting direction. While you hardly ever hear stories about consistently bad payroll runs or badly managed employment files, disrespect is routinely slung in the direction of the HR Department. CEOs, in fits of frustration, have outsourced much of the HR "strategic input" function to external consulting entities.

Now, on top of all of that, the HR folks are being asked to get good at aggressive recruiting. They are being asked to sift and sort between tens of thousands of competing online recruiting vendors who have all decided that their markets are "national". It should be no surprise that the results are chaotic and unpredictable. The same folks who dismiss the capabilities of HR in one breath expect entrepreneurial behavior in the next. It's a recipe for anything but success.

In most organizational functions, a mix of steady, predictable excellent output is at the core of long term success. Precisely what you don't want in some core functions is a rapid pace of innovation and entrepreneurial zest. Really, how frequently do you really want to redesign the contents of the employment folder, the color of the pay checks, the details of the benefits plan or the information on a pay stub? In spite of the heavily broadcast wisdom of management pundits, do you really want innovation across the board in all aspects of the operation? Do we really imagine that all functions have to be value adding? We think not.

At the root of the industry's problem with their HR customers is, we think, an unwillingness to design products with the customer in mind. It may be complicated by the inappropriateness of assuming that the HR customer is ever going to be able to adopt "the shark-like behavior of the marketing department". What customers really need is a stream of dependable results, not access to an incoherent pile of data.

While we may agree with the sentiment that suggests that Recruiting in the 21st Century may not be best executed by HR, we think that positioning products and services as if this were true is a tragic error. In the marketplace, at this juncture, the check-writing customer works in HR. The companies who gain real market advantage will be those who understand the real needs of these customers for results and supply them.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Intention Engine (From the Vault)

(January 24, 2000) We're drowning in buzzwords. Recently we overheard someone discussing "the value delivery component of an inverted business model in the ASP space". She went on to "articulate her role...I deliver complex value propositions to emerging technology providers that help them streamline their supply execution processes." Life was easier when these kinds of people were simply called "efficiency experts".

The current "holy grail" in the retail Internet world is called an "intention engine" or an "intention platform". This new discovery, the apparent successor to the decreasingly used "portal" is a tool that helps you find what you want. The really good ones, the hope goes, will help both sides of a transaction find what each other wants.

We wonder if they've ever seen a job board.

Our industry is oft maligned and much misunderstood. We giggle aloud when Internet experts say things like: "Think of them (Hot Jobs) as the NASDAQ for employers and employees." That's rich. We mean no slight to the Hot Jobs crowd but NASDAQ?

That said, most of the major players in our space focus clearly on discovering and brokering the intentions of two parties in search of each other. It's conducted with amazing sophistication when compared to other forms of Ecommerce.

While we have a long way to go, it's interesting to discover that the holy grail for the rest of the Internet industry is a mundane component of our niche.

- John Sumser

| ERN | Bugler | Advertise with Us | Trends | Book Club |
© 2011 interbiznet. All Rights Reserved
Material written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved

415.377.2255 (V) 415.380.8245 (F)
Send comments to colleen@interbiznet.com
interbiznet this week
(thru January 30, 2000)
1st Steps In The Job Hunt      - Face to Face
     - Jobhunting Don'ts
     - Jobhunting Don'ts 2
     - Cheating Yourself
     - Cheating Yourself 2


  • 2003 Trends Whitepaper

  • interbiznet Bookclub

  • interbiznet Listings

  • interbiznet Trends

         - Bugler
           Daily Industry News

         - ERNIE
           ERN in Email


  • BlogRoll
  • Integrated Employment
          Branding Presentation
  • Trends Whitepaper
  • interbiznet Listings
  • interbiznet Trends
  • interbiznet Bookclub
  • Top 100 E-Recruiters
  • Presentations
         - Recruiting Then/Now
  • Recruiter's Toolkit
  • Seminar In A Box
  • ERN Archives
  • 1st Steps In The Hunt


  • Our Rate Card
  • Demographics


  • BlogRoll
    Last Week's ERN

    January 23, 2000
  • Death of the Resume
  • Sharecropping
  • Generation Gap?
  • Success Stories
  • Applicants and Candidates

    ERN Archives

    Stocks We Watch
    Public Companies in
    Electronic Recruiting

    Central Newspapers
    Dow Jones
    General Electric

    Knight Ridder
    New York Times
    Restrac (Web Hire)
    Student Advantage
    Top Jobs On The Net
    US Search Co
    Washington Post

    Pending IPOs

    - None

    Public Staffing Cos

    AHL Services
    Alternative Resources
    American Consolidated
    Analysts Int'l
    Career Horizons
    Computer Horizons
    Computer Task Grp
    Consolidated Tech Grp
    Data Processing Resources
    Employee Solutions
    General Employment
    GTS Duratek
    Hall Kinion
    IT Staffing
    Kelly Services
    National Technical
    National TechTeam
    On Assignment
    Outsource Int'l
    Right Management
    Robert Half
    SOS Staffing
    Staff Builders
    Western Staff
    Winston Resources
    Work Int'l