interbiznet: The Recruiting News

The Recruiting News

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

Our Rate Card



Trends Reports



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

Home | ERN | Bugler | The Blogs | Blogroll | Advertise | Archives | Careers
(February 11, 2000) To say that our staff has tortured and dissected every brand name in the space would be to miss the long afternoons of laughter as they waded through website reviews. It's easy pickings. Last year's primary pattern, at some levels of the industry, seemed to involve taking perfectly good brand names, throwing them in the trash and paying an expensive naming consultant to develop a ridiculous replacement. As is often the case when spending someone else's money, there was too much cash and not enough sense.

That's why we registered Featuring Job-Rasta-Fair-I and beach-level recruiting, we expect that our naming prowess will soon make us billionaires. We are ready to guarantee that will consistently produce the most passive candidates of any known vendor in the Industry. Our motto is simple: "Got a pulse, get a job; don't apply, just be".

If our candidates aren't passive enough, we'll bet that they know several who are even more passive.

The really good thing about the name is its dual nature. If times get tough, we can switch from a Reggae theme to a Dickensian mood at will. Imagine JobMarley, the ghost of Christmas past, meeting Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim saying "Welcome to the job board for those who are willing to work for a turkey."

Now that we think of it, we could have a Tiny Tim in either setting.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


(February 10, 2000) Occasionally, we get to meet a real visionary. Yesterday afternoon, just after we put the finishing touches on the 2000 Electronic Recruiting Index, we had the pleasure of getting to know Doug Merrit, CEO of Icarian. Taglined "turning managers into recruiters", the company produces the next generation of workforce optimization tools.

Doug, a lanky well-spoken graduate of the Oracle sales team, Anderson consulting and Patrol Software, is a unique combination of smooth salesman and industry pioneer. After a steady diet of technologists turned entrepreneurs, he's a refreshing change. The idea behind the Icarian product line is that HR, Recruiting and workforce optimization can be executed using the tools of inventory management.

It wasn't all that long ago that you would get thrown out of an HR conference if you dared to suggest that Human Capital should be managed just like any other form of Capital asset. The touchy-feely '80s left us with the monicker "Human Resources" and little in the way of solving the implied problem. Somehow, people as inventory is an overly manipulative concept in the current market. It's a shame that the remarkable tools used around the rest of the organization have gone unnoticed in HR because of this semantics question.

Icarian aims to solve the problem. Merrit is the kind of guy you'd bet on. While research intensive, the technology isn't rocket science anymore.

So, we said, in our usually provocative way, "There's no such thing as the Internet, Doug". Quick on the uptake he replied, "I think you mean that domain expertise makes vertical markets so different from each other that they don't really overlap." Good answer.

Then we tried to stump him with our normal question about highly ambitious HR systems..."How do you figure out that someone can fit into the job without any of the top level skills required by the stupid requisition?" Doug told us about the inventory screening processes and "analystics" that are at the core of a fully deployed suite of Icarian tools. We were tremendously impressed.

The nutshell? If you have a complex workforce optimization task and are scrambling for answers that could be proactive, talk to Icarian. They are asking the right questions.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Layoffs, How Quaint!

(February 09, 2000) In days gone by, the time honored move to bump a lagging stock back into an acceptable trading range was instituting layoffs. The unwritten history of 20th Century business includes a time when natural attrition figures were included in the layoff planning as a way of 'getting the numbers up'. Want to move your stock price up, the conventional wisdom went, layoff a couple thousand employees. Cover it with press releases and analyst phone calls.

As Dorothy said to Toto, "We're not in Kansas anymore."

According to Reuters:

Shares of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola have tumbled 10 percent since the world's largest beverage company announced on Wednesday it would cut about 6,000 jobs from its operations worldwide -- 2,500 of which will occur at the company's headquarters. The job cuts are intended to help the beverage giant trim its annual expenses by about $300 million.
It really used to be that you could take the 10% rise in the stock price to the bank.

The market, in its patient, bottom line way, is telling Coke that there is a labor shortage. Performance problems in a labor shortage are caused by one of two things: bad management or decaying markets. People, the only meaningful asset that companies have to play with, are becoming increasingly valuable. So, if you get rid of a bunch of them, your value drops.

Coke was the first company to get blindsided by this change in reality. There will be more. The next wave of management attempts to solve flagging stock price performance will concentrate on Recruiting and workforce optimization. It will mark the ascension of the next round of corporate leadership.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

A Better Idea

(February 08, 2000) The Ford Motor Company is giving all of its 350,000 employees around the world Internet access and the computers needed to use it. The deal will account for over 4% of HP's annual shipments of computers. Each employee will get web space. Families are encouraged to use the equipment. This retention program is a perk with major family benefits. The entire package, including net access, the hardware and key Microsoft office products? $12/month for employees.

Oh, and Delta Airlines is doing it for their 70,000 employees.

While the programs could be executed as typical company giveaways, we're most excited about their potential as recruiting and retention applications. With 80% penetration, the company will begin to have the momentum required to really harvest the capacities of their workforce. In a single move, Ford and Delta have extended the definition of the corporate boundary to include friends and family, the basic referral network.

We hope that the announcement serves as an industry wakeup call for our narrowly conceived ERecruiting universe.

While our tools and techniques focus on channeling the flow of material from outside sources into the internal resume database, a radical new market is emerging as companies transform themselves into communities. The companies, in the process, create large new markets for recruiting and workforce optimization. While we've never believed that lexicon based systems (Leaders Online, Eployment, Resumix) have any intelligent place in the public markets, we're certain that they have a long life ahead of them as a component part of these emerging universes.

Right before our eyes, the time honored definitions of what is and isn't a company are changing. Driven, at their root, by demographic shifts that seriously threaten the long term viability of the core enterprise, our customers are, as usual, changing faster than we are. That's a surprising statement, given the Internet speeds of change we hear so much about.

The race has hardly begun. In the process of trying to explain to customers how well products will serve them, we've begun to lose sight of their changing requirements.

So, what does a company like Ford need in the "Intranet" that reaches all 350,000 employees?

  • An automated referral system that includes a tie into payroll for accounting purposes and a module that can be placed on each of the 300,000 or so websites that will emerge as employees become web savvy.
  • A method for delivering job postings to employees who have indicated a desire to grow.
  • Training distribution that monitors performance and completion.
  • Hosted outsourcing services (in the event that plant shutdowns become a financial necessity).
  • Supply chain integration for recruiting purposes.
  • At-home access to recruiting tools for employees of the various staffing organizations around the company.
  • Among others
And, who do you suppose will supply the work? A job board? Hardly. An applicant tracking vendor? Unlikely. We bet on the emergence of new entities with broad recruiting and retention expertise (maybe a division of Oracle or PeopleSoft) who absorb one or two of the current market players.

And then the privacy and security issues will come home to roost in our little corner of the world. - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Ecommerce vs Ecruiting (From the Vault)

(February 07, 2000) Investors are starting to take our industry very seriously. Armed with visions of the sorts of Ecommerce that have turned your desktop computer into a vending machine, they often wonder about the differences between Ecruiting and other forms of online businesses. Today's piece is designed to illuminate ten significant ways that Ecruiting isn't like other Ecommerce.

  1. Shortages. Most Ecommerce environments assume that the supply of goods, material or services is infinite. Inventory management, when practiced, is an ordering discipline, not a supply management discipline. At the root of any growth in Electronic Recruiting is not technology but labor shortage. The demographics indicate sustained labor shortages for many generations. Economic growth has outpaced the labor supply.
  2. Customization. All recruitment transactions involve nitty gritty customization. "This employee in that workforce" is a decision with enormous investment, cultural and risk aspects. The fit, never perfect in times of abundance, is increasingly brokered. Since the transaction always involves detailed customization, the industry leads the technology instead of the more normal Ecommerce circumstance (customization in search of a product).
  3. Regionality. We imagine an employment marketplace with at least 3 dimensions (it's more like 7 but understanding a 3 dimensional marketplace is tough enough to grasp). The market begins as a web-like environment and is radically decentralized as an historical artifact. The dimensions of the marketplace are: Geographical/Professional Region, Industry, and Customer size. We imagine a market that can sustain at least 20,000 profitable nodes (250 MSAs times 4 types of customer times 20 industries). As an example, an operation that recruits mechanics for small businesses in Oklahoma City is unlikely to be a viable competitor with a company who recruits IT professionals across Lucent Divisions in Northern New Jersey.
  4. Internet Penetration / Demographics. The employment question is extremely complex because it ranges across demographics (everyone works). The tools and techniques required to fill retail management slots are different from those that work in IT projectization, from those required for different kinds of nursing and so on. Success in the marketplace depends on having adequate momentum to establish a working market in a particular arena. That means that market timing is a real (and sophisticated) issue.
  5. Non-Standard Inventory. Since customization is the norm, the essentials of current Ecommerce initiatives tend to fail. There is no standard definition for most of the variables (i.e. a civil engineer at Campbell's Soup performs an extremely dis-similar function to one at Boeing. The very language used to describe the two jobs reads identically but means radically different things). In other words, there is no ISBN (International Standard Book Number) in employment.
  6. Supply Dislocation. In current and future employment marketplaces, the question will always be "Now that I can define what I want, what constitutes an acceptable substitute". So, rather than exact matching of needs and capabilities, the conclusion of an employment transaction always involves a great deal of approximation.
  7. Radical Changes In The Management of The Market. The labor shortage has the net effect of shifting the power in the traditional employment equation. Employees are now the buyers and employers the sellers. Five years ago the situation was reversed. Prior to five years ago, no human being had ever experienced a permanent labor shortage. Therefore, the attitudes, techniques, opinions, ethics and skills of "Recruiters" are under extraordinary pressure. It's not fundamentally a technical problem though it may have a partial technical solution. It's a market problem with an interesting aspect...A technology has emerged that can be used as a training ground for a new kind of recruiter.
  8. Market Penetration. There appears to be a five year cycle for the full adoption of new recruiting techniques and market mechanisms. Job Boards took five years to mature from a footnote to the predominant recruiting method. Talent Auctions will take the same amount of maturation. Both buyers and sellers have to adjust to the new mechanism. Employees (the buyers) adjust more rapidly than Companies (the sellers) so the early days of market adoption provide real windfalls for early adopters.
  9. Industry Incentives. The most observable players in the space are media companies (newspaper empires), ad agencies (who used to own the market), search firms (Heidrick and Struggles, CDI), HR Software Companies, contract firms (mostly technical), job boards, HR Departments, temporary agencies and so on. Each group brings a historical bias, investment capability and culturally driven decision making cycles. The market is entered based on a pain threshold for the most part. Many of the players are adopting the pricing and market models of the others as they enter the arena.
  10. Market Awareness. Few of the players are able to see beyond their own noses. Though we've sketched a broad view of an extremely distributed, shortage driven, very nichey marketplace (perfect for the web, don't you think), each individual player tends to see a more monolithic landscape. Often, successful growth and profitability are the victims of a weak understanding of the market. This lack of market clarity can be directly attributed to pre-shortage market behavior. It simply wasn't necessary to have a focused understanding of the market until recently.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

© 2013 interbiznet.
All Rights Reserved.

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

Mill Valley, CA 94941
415.377.2255 (V) 415.380.8245 (F)
Send comments to
interbiznet this week
(thru February 06, 2000)
1st Steps In The Job Hunt      - Options
     - Telecommuting
     - Hidden Job Market
     - To Post or Not to Post
     - Using Usenet


  • 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

    February 6, 2000
  • Fertilize First, Farm Later
  • Interview with a Passive...
  • Smart Cookies
  • Complexity
  • Advertising

    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