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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


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

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Fertilize First, Farm Later (From the Vault)
(February 04, 2000) The economics of the web are somehow counterintuitive. In spite of the dramatic hoopla associated with a few high visibility net stocks, the fundamental rule is that you have to invest before you take your payoff.

This really isn't a new idea. As long as there have been salespeople, at least a few members of our species have understood that relationships are built on trust and loyalty. You give before you get. You give what they want before you get what you want.

In a different time, this was known as "having manners".

In the digital world, sales and marketing are a deeply personal responsibility. While it is socially acceptable to denigrate the efforts of marketing and sales people, in many ways they hold the keys to functioning communications processes. The biggest development problem, we think, is not technical. It involves teaching people the things that make great sales people great.

The ancient adage goes "It is better to give than to receive". The updated version is "What goes around comes around". These are not empty platitudes, they are directions for operating a web recruiting business.

Recruiting, throughout its history, has been a reactive profession rooted in seizing immediate opportunities. While those tactics were effective in an era of overabundant employees, they are dysfunctional in today's environment. While we expect to see ever more frenzied "sharecropping" in the near term, the Recruiters who survive the early years of the shortage will be prudent operators who invest heavily in their networks.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Interview With A Passive Candidate

(February 03, 2000) We recently received a piece of email for a conference that teaches people how to find passive candidates. Tired of debunking this ridiculous notion, we went out to lunch at a local pub in search of a physical unit. After looking high and low, we realized that passive candidates probably all bring their lunch to work. So, we wandered into a modest 3 story office building and hunted through the cubicles for a passive job hunter.

We found him, curled in a fetal position, snoring through his lunch. Looking through his email, as long as he was sleeping, we noticed a folder called "Do Something With This Stuff". Opening it, we discovered hundreds of incoming emails that had a variety of messages that said "If you are not interested in receiving any more mail like this, complete the following instructions." Apparently, he wasn't interested enough to complete the instructions.

Since lunch was ending, we jiggled his arm to wake him.

"You're not my boss", he said accusingly. For a moment, we were worried that we'd found a passive-aggressive job hunter by mistake.

"No, no, we we're told that you were a passive job hunter."

"Well, my boss seems to wish that I were a more active one", he mumbled in reply. "I don't usually wake up until a half hour after lunch. What's so important?"

"We're doing field research into what it takes to recruit a passive job hunter", we said.

"Oh, that's nice", he replied.

"What do you think makes you a passive job hunter", we inquired.

"Uh, I dunno", he opined.

"Well, what kind of job would you like", we interrogated.

"This one's not so bad", he articulated.

"Well, tell us about your dreams", we urged.

"Uh, I wish I had a job where my sleep wouldn't get interrupted. Then I could have more dreams", he slurred.

"Hmmm", we gurgled knowingly, "did you know there's a whole conference devoted to finding passive people like you?"

"Oh", he slurped, "That's nice. Are we done yet?"

"One last question", we assured him, "What's your favorite job board?"

"Huh?", he asked drifting back to sleep, "What's a job board?"

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Smart Cookies

(February 02, 2000) Consistently first. That's our take on Monster these days. Very consistently first and on the money. Buy their stock.

This morning, we watched in awe as Jeff Taylor (Monster's CEO), the CEO of Junior Achievement, and the young woman who is Jeff's "job shadow for the day" talked about their relationship on CNBC. Monster is sponsoring the "job shadow" program (pretty clever way to capitalize on Groundhog Day). The program gives kids from Junior Achievement the opportunity to spend a day with business people.

"Call the broker, that's brilliant, they get it" we mumbled, trying to get through the first cup of coffee. It was enough to propel us forcefully into a new morning. By tying themselves to Junior Achievement, Monster simultaneously demonstrates its grasp of the labor shortage and long term relationship building with the scarce talent pool.

Really, long term recruiting success depends on building relationships with people who were never considered viable targets in the process. We believe that its better to consider the problem an inventory and supply question that a "buns on seats" proposition. The success or failure of many enterprises will depend on well-defined supply sources over the next decade. That demands the development of relationships with potential employees long before the immediate need arises. In most cases, those relationships will be years old by the time a position is filled.

Thinking in this area is just beginning to blossom. By providing a public example of a relationship that works, Monster is first again and moving the ball down the field. We think that they understand more than most that online recruiting is not about technology or standards. Rather, it is about realigning the view of the labor supply and working to deliver value earlier and earlier in the process.

They are smart cookies.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


(February 01, 2000) Market complexity is the normal condition of the Recruiting Industry. With warring factions, cultural differences, regional biases, profession-driven sales techniques and 20 Million annual customized transactions, it is not surprising that no company has ever owned more than 4% of the domestic American marketplace.

It is difficult to explain the recurring expectation that the Internet will somehow change the historical foundations of an industry. In all of the successful Internet plays to date, the roots of industries remain unchanged. For the most part, the Internet has been a revolution in distribution, not production. Inventory is more accessible and choice broadens, as in or Yahoo.

The Recruiting marketplace is huge and expanding rapidly. As the value of employees increases, driven by labor shortages, the amount of money budgeted for Recruiting transactions increases. It really is that straightforward.

While the hiring tactics of Silicon Valley (and other high tech regions) dominate the news, there are profound changes at work in even the most non-technical companies. In order to meet labor demands in rural Virginia, staffing companies are operating bus lines. Stodgy specialized regional employers are expanding education benefits beyond the traditional boundaries of the company. Some technology firms are building what are essentially company towns in order to control the output of the local education system.

The poorly covered immigration wave (which we imagine to be larger numerically than any historical precedent) demands in-house language and literacy development training. Only a sustained immigration and absorption program will begin to solve the draconian shortages we face in the pure number of bodies available for work.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


(January 31, 2000) The Monday morning-after stock market is reacting like we did. "You spent how much money on what?". In the swarm of "dot com" advertising on the SuperBowl, we watched and wondered. As the fog clears, we can remember the one about the dog and the one with the babies throwing off their clothes. We remember the one about the "hottest hand on the web" because someone in our viewing group said "that must be a porn site".

We train salespeople in our organization.

Inevitably, as they mature, they get a hold of a number of really big potential deals. This is the most expensive part of training. No matter how hard we try to explain that the big deals have a lower likelihood of closing, it seems that the core human desire is to learn this lesson from experience.

"Please don't spend all of your energy on those big ones", we say, to little avail. "Swinging for home runs will lower your ultimate score", we plead, "Lots of singles is a better strategy."

So far, no one has ever listened. We treat the phase as the make or break point in a salesperson's development. The keepers learn after one mistake. The short timers keep swinging for the fence. Each loss seems to drive the compulsion to make a big score. God help the ones who accidentally score. They always think that the rules of the game don't apply to them.

And so it was with 2000 SuperBowl dot com ads. So it is with the development of our industry.

Building an audience is a game of singles over time, not home runs. There is no better example of the tendency than Webhire who continually swings for the fence, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The problem is that the marketplace, while maturing rapidly, has some inherent limitations.

A real web based advertising campaign is, on a per impression basis, more expensive (by a lot) than SuperBowl advertising. The transactions are smaller; the focus is much more dependent on knowing the target; the results are somewhat more measurable; the overhead is way more expensive; and, the attention to detail is overwhelming. It is a singles game. The core strategy is to just keep getting better at getting players on base. It involves workmanship and not big scores.

We believe that there will be a strong backlash against the SuperBowl advertising mindset, with good justification. The net effect will be increased demand for web advertising space and a growth market for managed web advertising companies.

- John Sumser  

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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