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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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When In Doubt, Slice The Language

(July 07, 2000) Another Chief Officer slot is popping up. Given the recent spate of privacy bugaboos on the web, small Silicon Valley oriented companies are appointing "Chief Privacy Officers" (CPOs). We're from an era in which a CPO was a high ranking naval enlisted man, famous for his coat.

The CPO's job, it turns out, is to be the single belly button at the intersection of competing views from the legal, consumer and technical universes. With the heat of public scrutiny comes the requirement to field a "stuckee". While there is plenty of existing law, the ability to track online behavior certainly raises new issues. Lots of third party players are emerging to try to sort out the details.

We hold, as you'd suspect, a somewhat contrarian view.

It's clear to us that privacy is directly related to fit. The more you know about a customer (or candidate) the more likely you are to be able to create a match between that person and a range of needs. By necessity, additional understanding comes at the expense of a layer of mystery.

We're often reminded of our first experiences with a tailor.

Following one very large promotion, we were instructed to use the "company tailor". After a decade of wearing rack suits, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that company executives all wore handmade suits from a specific company. We were surprised at the way that a tailor worked.

After an initial greeting, the tailor asked us to disrobe. He immediately got on his knees and placed his hands in any number of unmentionable places. Measurements were taken and an odd array of physical facts (that we didn't even know) rose to the surface. One shoulder is lower than the other; one thigh larger than its twin; the padding on one side sags a wee bit more than the other (we can't even see back there); and so on.

Humiliation and discomfort aside, the result of this deep physical investigation was an astonishing fit. We have fond memories of that first suit and the way it looked and felt. Fit was achieved at the expense of privacy.

And so it is with information.

We trusted our tailor to never mention our infirmities; but, he knew them, understood them and accounted for them. His job was to make the fit work based on a deep intrusive understanding.

We're guessing that the real dynamic surrounding the current privacy noise is related to the fact that the current crop of internet information tailors are all apprentices. There are time honored ways for respectfully using closely held information to produce high quality results. Perhaps the job of the CPO is to make organizations learn how to carry this trust.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Continued Shortages

(July 06, 2000) It's clearly going to take Wall Street some more time to understand that there has been a major shift in the labor supply. Today's news, which shows layoffs and unemployment claims trending downwards in spite of a softening economy, is an indicator of the shift. Unfortunately, the markets continue to interpret the data as if things remained unchanged.

The notion that labor shortages are a permanent face of the economy is so counter-intuitive that being slow to get it is completely understandable. There are no historical precedents for the current situation. As we all know, market prognosticators (and pundits in general) depend heavily on history for reassurance. In unprecedented shifts, information flows become corrupt and traditional sources lose their value.

The stock markets and there analysts, however, are not going to remain permanently blind.

As we've been saying for years, even if the economy grows at depression levels for the next decade (and that is very unlikely), the labor shortage will become so dramatic that it will cause changes in the fabric of our lives. The move to control the situation will result in the broad adoption of a Chief Technical Officer style role in most medium to large companies. Work weeks will expand. Definitions of career, loyalty, compensation, family, community, education, productivity and work itself will shift significantly.

As a result, companies providing services that attack the problem will ultimately become high flyers. The emergence of Information technology and the office of the CIO were at the root of the growth of EDS, the big five consulting shops and Computer Associates (among others). We have no difficulty imagining similar sized operations rooted in the solution to the labor shortage.

In HR circles, the attention is shifting to "retention" (recruiting your own people every day). While retention programs may stem attrition to something less than the 30% that plagues some large Silicon Valley firms, it's a Band-Aid that doesn't address the growth question. Certainly, retention coupled with acquisition can be used to slowly increase headcounts (and we expect a flurry of talent based acquisitions). Like pundits, you can depend on HR to dig in to history in the search for an answer.

In the long run, the question will be the acquisition and development of a real Human Asset Supply Chain. The metaphor itself is beyond the comprehension of most contemporary HR practitioners. The idea that people are really a capital asset to be cultivated for long term return, something that inventory managers get about the cans on a shelf, is going to emerge as slowly as the change in Wall Street's thinking.

But, it will emerge.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Net-Temps' Talent Center

(July 05, 2000) In late May, Net Temps launched its Talent Center, a response to the emergence of talent auctions around the web. Acknowledging their long term obligation to their customers, Net-Temps positions its offering as a talent availability tool. What distinguishes the talent center from "auctions" is that the posted candidates are pre-screened and pre-qualified by a staffing service, unlike talent auctions where there is typically no screening or verification process at all.

In the short run, this is a marvelous response to the still unwieldy talent auction process. It rightly observes that validation and verification are critical elements of any contracted relationship. It has the potential to breathe new life into the staffing industry as the automation of core transactions matures. Were we a staffing company, we'd open an account with Net Temps as a way of saying "Thank you".

For Net Temps, the move is a way of staying competitive without going into direct competition with their customers. For the customers, it's a way to continue to grow in a market that is increasingly hostile. The move deserves applause and recognition. It's a smart adjustment.

As testing, assessment and background checking become commonplace business tools online, however, the pressure to redefine the role of the traditional staffing industry is going to increase in intensity. While it would be wonderful to think that all staffing firms actually vette their employees before sending them out, it is widely understood to be otherwise. An interesting potential consequence of the Net Temps move may well be to increase accountability within the industry. That would be a good thing.

In the long run, we imagine that staffing firms will morph into talent agencies and have the kinds of liabilities associated with performance guarantees. It's a long way off (five years, say). But, it's coming. In the interim, the Net Temps play is a bit of market brilliance that gives continued strength to a customer group who is under serious pressure.

Nice Job!

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

© 2013 interbiznet.
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Materials written
by John Sumser
© TwoColorHat.
All Rights Reserved.

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