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

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It's Here (Finally)
(March 03, 2000) Finally. The exhausted staff is refreshed, the marketing materials are emerging, the cleanup is underway and the patient early customers are being shipped their copies. After a long, painful birthing process, the 2000 Electronic Recruiting Index is shipping. Careful readers might have noticed the changed link at the top of this page. The Executive Summary, describing the contents of the book, is available for download.

This year's book builds on the material contained in the 1999 ERI; there is little in the way of overlap (although we did update the market volume and growth statistics). While the 1999 ERI focused on the internal mechanics of operating an employment website (or the employment section of a corporate website), the 2000 ERI takes a larger view of the marketplace, evaluating customer and vendor types, the range of available functionality, stock market performance and 250 company reviews (including an assessment of their contribution to an 'end to end' solution').

We refined last year's vendor survey to focus the results on business level characteristics of 50 Job Boards. Covering Customer Satisfaction, Brand Awareness, Sales Force Effectiveness, Acquisition Desirability, Short and Long Term Growth Prospects, the consolidated results of 3,000 recruiters' responses are included with an eye towards IPO prospects.

The key items in the study include:

  • A detailed analysis of 29 different categories of participants in the markets, from hiring managers to candidates and all of the intermediaries in between.
  • A comprehensive description of all of the functions required to execute an end to end solution.
  • A thorough review of all 62 Publicly traded companies with an interest in the Electronic Recruiting Market including comparative stock performance and the correlation between web investment and price.
  • A detailed analysis of the web offerings of over 250 companies providing products and services in the electronic Recruiting Market. Each company analysis includes a "functional map" that allows the design and integration of an end to end solution from a variety of vendors.
  • The results of a survey of over 3,000 professional Recruiters. The survey covers brand awareness, customer satisfaction and acquisition desirability for 50 key players in the electronic Recruiting Industry.
  • A generic white paper describing the strategy considerations for a staffing firm that desires to preserve or expand its market share in the next five years.
  • A guide to valuing the Resumes in a Resume Database.
  • Forecasts and predictions for the Industry's next five years
  • Detailed market valuation, segmentation and sales volume assessments and forecasts.
  • Evaluations of 250 current vendors including a description of their functional contribution to an end to end solution.
The Executive Summary is intended to give a flavor of the depth and focus of the 2000 ERI.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Letters, We Get Letters

(March 02, 2000) Passive candidates. Our continuing assault on this ridiculous notion has produced some of the best email conversations we've ever had. The following piece of email, from a correspondent who definitely wishes to remain anonymous, recounts an archetypal conversation about filling a requisition when there no one is aggressively seeking the job. Think of it as a seasoned professional's view of the reality behind the phenomenon described as 'passive candidates'.
Passive Job Seeker, kind of hit a nerve on that one (flip side of the old 'hidden job market' canard).

Of course, when you are talking passive job seekers, the correlating term of art is direct sourcing. Any good recruiter has to have the skills and knowledge to do creative sourcing. More than that, a good recruiter has to know when direct sourcing is the tool of choice or at least potentially productive from a cost-benefit, i.e. time-results, perspective.

Basic business sense. I love talking to hiring authorities when they run direct sourcing up the pole. First thing we do together is establish the true going rate in the local market for the worker we want to recruit. Then I try to educate that when you cold call a candidate the relationship is immediately and forevermore predicated on $$$$$$$$$$.

The conversation with the exec goes something like this:

"OK, Your Grace, lets cogitate on the delta we are going to have to pay, the increase our prospect will be seeking, which s/he will pencil as their salary after their upcoming review plus a tidy sweetener. You wouldn't move for an effective lateral, right? So more than likely, we're talking 5 figures here. You got game, pay equity and all that, Pardner? Yeah, I thought that might cramp your style, especially since you low-balled the last three people I brought you.

Oh? - this might be different, this is mission critical.

Well then, of course, that could be different. But you know, Hoss, our benny package is just average so you might have to pony-up even more buckaroos to compensate, and my experience tells me there is a 50-50 chance that to get the right fanny in here in the next 3 months we are going to have to look at out-of-towners. You got relo dollars for this project? Not really, huh. I understand. Life in the fast lane is a female canine.

Well, Bunky, you know I got 25 other open reqs on my work list, and its just not a smart business decision for me, that is to say, our company, to spend 4-5 hours a day for the next two to three weeks to direct source your savior when we in fact don't have the requisite 'resources' to get the job done. But if you think your charisma and selling skills are up to it, and its a bona fide mission critical, bet the company opening, maybe we should bring in a top search firm.

No, Sweetheart, not a contingency agency - I do what they do. I am talking about a retained firm with a documented track record in this particular field. Their fee, though, will be 33% minimum, up front and in writing. Beg pardon, you don't think your boss is onboard for that?

Man, are we in pickle city here or what? Let me think for a minute. OK, how about this. I want 2 big ones from your budget. I won't use it if I don't need it. I may run an ad, I may post on the internet, I may go to a job fair, I may use it as a special case referral bonus for one of our hot shots around here, I may pick up the phone and put out some feelers to my trot line (files and rolodex). I'll figure it out. You extend me 2k line of credit, let me worry about finding the candidates.

When I find a stud or studette who meets your specs and who represents a solid value to the company, here is what we do: First, you and me - think pro wrestling tag team; then, we are on our most professional and solicitous behavior, we move fast, you take your cues from me, we put a nice personalized package on the table and close, close, close. Your boss will think you are a pure, preternatural business machine. That's my best and final offer, Coach.

What do you say? Great! I appreciate the buy in and look forward to doing business with you. One final thought. If we end up not having to pay top dollar for Mr/s Right and I use little or none of your 2k, maybe you could mention it to my boss, perhaps even suggest an early salary review or bonus for the kid. I don't have room in my closet for another T-shirt."

We'd suggest that any customer who buys services from a vendor who sells access to passive candidates is a sucker waiting to be taken. In the current market, the real meaning of "passive candidate" is "someone who left a resume while looking for another job". That is, not passive at all. Resume databases and other data collection systems can produce good leads for cold call sales. The web can be very useful as a tool for identifying someone who might be interested in a particular job. In the long run, however, the term "passive candidate" seems to really mean...only marginally interested, requiring lots more work than usual from a Recruiter.
- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

The Meaning

(March 01, 2000) Even today's highly cross-communicated organizations seem troubled by the traditional problems assoicated with layered management. In many companies, the fact that a junior marketing assistant can communicate with the implicit voice of the company is a troubling detail without immediate solution. Those same junior marketing assistants are certain that they have mastered the big picture. As a result, the following revisionist version of Genesis (thanks to Don Ramer at RecruitUSA) is making the rounds. It could have been written in any large company 30 years ago. Surprisingly, the web seems to be compounding some old fashioned problems.

  1. In the beginning was the Plan.
  2. And then came the Assumptions.
  3. And the Assumptions were without form.
  4. And the Plan was without Substance.
  5. And darkness was upon the face of the Workers.
  6. And they spoke among themselves saying, "It is a crock of crap and it stinks.
  7. And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said, "It is a pail of dung and we cannot live with the smell."
  8. And the Supervisors went unto their Managers saying, "It is a container of organic waste, and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it."
  9. And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying, "It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength."
  10. And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying to one another, "It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."
  11. And the Directors went to the Vice Presidents, saying unto them, "It promotes growth, and it is very powerful."
  12. And the Vice Presidents went to the President, saying unto him, "This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigor of the company with very powerful effects."
  13. And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was good.
  14. And the Plan became Policy.
  15. And it was good.

Here endeth the lesson.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Full Service

(February 29, 2000) In the end, it's all about results. Electronic Recruiting systems and services that don't produce candidates are short-term plays. Systems that have no embedded way to guarantee candidate production fall into one of three categories: the middlemen (who we think will survive), the back office and the ASPs (who need to complete their offerings).

The middlemen include companies like Best Internet Recruiter, IIRC and RecruitUSA. In a different time, they might have been called advertising agencies (or media placement specialists). These companies take individual advertisements (job postings) and distribute them to a variety of pre-selected targets. Logical improvements for these firms will inevitably involve the management of advertising creation, unified billing systems and consolidation of results. By providing customers with a single "belly button", they reduce (or have the potential to reduce) the complexity of a universe that is going to continue to be extremely chaotic.

Interestingly (and importantly) Careersite has entered this market by offering a free Recruiter's desktop. The tools allow free posting on Careersite and lots of free targeted job boards and Newsgroups. By giving away access to the universe of free services from a single point, Careersite has finessed a number of the competitors who will have to respond with similar offerings. (We'll look at the Careersite strategy next week).

An ASP (Application Service Provider) is a technical company that rents the use of its technology and hosts the 'application' on its servers. Boxwood Technologies and are the early entrants to this emerging field. It will be very crowded very soon. Essentially, the firms rent a technical process that manages the resumes and profiles that naturally accrue to an employment section of a website.

So, if you are a big company, you might want to consider using's service as a way of managing and understanding the traffic to the jobs component of your website. Boxwood, on the other hand, clearly specializes in media outlets and professional associations. The theory behind both operations is that the renter has the responsibility for sales and marketing; the landlord simply provides technology. It's closer to the truth for associations and media outlets (the Boxwood play) than it is for companies that want to actually hire people ('s view).

The problem for companies that want to use's service is simple. Unless you have a widely recognized name brand, there is no traffic to your employment section. Without traffic, the ability to process it is less than useful.

For Boxwood, the problem is more subtle (and easier to solve). By focusing on associations and media outlets, they solve the traffic problem. But, to make their cash-flow model work, they have to motivate a channel of resellers. All in all, building a reseller network is a simpler chore than customized traffic development. Ultimately,'s success will depend on either building or buying an in-house advertising agency. Boxwood simply has to solve a time honored problem and is making intelligent progress.

Both companies will have to endure an insane volume of new entrants into their spaces over the next 6 months. Their well established market leadership will be heavily challenged between now and the early summer. Since Boxwood's success is so entangled with their customers, they are much more likely to survive.

Finally, the back office market is a cluttered mess in need of an organizing principle. All of the companies we describe in this article offer some sort of applicant tracking capacity. The once robust $250M market for administrative management of resumes is rapidly becoming a giveaway component of larger offerings that produce candidates. Once seen as the heart of the Recruiting software business, these systems and their functions are rapidly becoming as cheap and plentiful as promotional tee shirts.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Stop Whining, Part II

(February 28, 2000) You can well imagine the mail we received from the article on Friday (Stop Whining). CEOs, Engineering Managers, Journalists and Analysts and some seasoned Marketing folks applauded. Lots of junior marketing people whined angrily that we were asking them to do someone else's job. "Those lazy bastards in journalism," the sentiment oozed, "are not willing to see the whole picture. Now you've sanctioned their slothful approach."

Many of our responses mentioned the fact that we fire anyone who utters the words "It's not my job." Like "Open Sesame" opened the hidden cave, in our company "It's not my job" opens the door to new opportunities in someone else's company. Labor shortage be damned, we can't afford to sully our culture with that sort of nonsense.

We're surprised that some big name players in our space are willing to tolerate the attitude in their marketing departments.

We think the problem is caused by the explosion of companies in our space. With a pressing labor shortage and a real limit on the number of talented marketing people, companies are stuck funding mediocre performance. It's an expensive proposition: paying people to justify their bad performance by spending their time looking for examples on the web.

Marketing works best when it converts observable problems into usable opportunities.

- 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)
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