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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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(October 20, 2000) We're suckers for old timey gimmicks. We always try to remember that the roots of marketing involve a gaudy sign with large red letters reading "SALE". Simple is good. Simpler is better (but probably too expensive.) That's probably why we like the pro-motivator so much.

At its simplest, the Promotivator is a desktop based application that offers weekly motivational tips for web promoters. In addition, the tool offers access to a web based forum on the subject and daily steps a successful web promoter might take.

Like a pet rock, it just sits there.

This down market use of streaming news delivery offers an interesting possible model for long term recruiting in tightly defined professional niches. Take a look at ProMotivator and then imagine a similar tip of the day / discussion forum for engineering specialties, sales pros, doctors, printers, customer service people or whatever specialty you are trying to recruit.

Our guess is that the total overhead for running a similar-to operation would be in the range of $50K to $75K/year. To be effective, the operation couldn't holler about jobs. Rather, imagine it as an indispensable desktop success aid delivered in exchange for detailed demographics and work history. Over time, a relationship with 25,000 potential candidates would be a bargain at those annual rates.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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Faster Good, Right Hire Better

(October 19, 2000) What's with all of the emphasis on efficiency. Saving time and money are only interesting if the quality variable is constantly addressed. The argument goes something like this:
All employees contribute to a company's revenue generation to one degree or another. Every open position at a company has an opportunity cost associated with it - if the job is not filled, revenue associated with the job is not generated. Traditional recruiting methods can take as much as 53 days, on average, to fill an open position. In highly skilled labor markets, that translates into more than $62,000 in opportunity costs for each open position. That amounts to $1,173 per day that a trained, motivated employee would be contributing to an organization's bottom line.

From the MobileRecruiter Website

By the same token, a staffing decision made too quickly without enough data, can cost many times more than $62,000. Patterned mistakes, bad cultural fit, inadequate background checking or pure incompetence can multiply the cost of a bad hire through the ceiling.

We say that the critical factor to consider is effectiveness, not efficiency. In other words, time to hire or cost to hire are completely irrelevant unless there is an equal measure of quality of hire. Faster and cheaper are not better in and of themselves. Just as volume isn't the answer, cost and speed are also incidentals.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Hidden Costs

(October 18, 2000) Why are the "job board in a box" companies (, Joboo, Boxwood and so on) having such trouble with market traction? The core idea is right: the best recruiting website is your own home page. What's going on, then?

It turns out that most companies (except the top 200 brands) don't have large enough web audiences to make the leasing of a home page function useful. What most purchasers discover is that a really solid employment offering points out the weaknesses in overall traffic development. When you begin using one of them, you are immediately confronted with the weaknesses in your web traffic.

As we saw in yesterday's note, traffic, in a permanent labor shortage, requires constant investment in value for the job hunting and career minded traffic. For the most part, the aforementioned services don't offer a meaningful solution to the traffic problem. In effect, they become the measurement of the problem.

Part of the problem is that really meaningful traffic development is really expensive and requires very careful planning. Given that a candidate is really worth 30% of the first year's salary and given that you need at least a hundred resumes that are close, a very high traffic development budget might be in the neighborhood of .3% of a year's salary ($100/visitor on a $30K job). At the other extreme, some points based programs get the costs down to around a dollar (though they aren't very targeted).

It's beginning to look like web traffic development costs spread on a "bathtub curve" with both low and high quality traffic being the most expensive. For instance, a loyalty program like Cybergold, while useful for developing visitors for a huge candidate pool like Headhunter, is, in the end, very expensive for a single company. Although eyeballs can be purchased for $1 a set (over time), the recruiting website is forced to discern professions from groups who are targeted along leisure interest lines. The traffic fit just isn't always there. Loyalty programs can produce high volumes of low quality traffic.

At the other extreme, visitor acquisition priced at search firm levels begs the "why bother" question.

The market's silly emphasis on Internet Recruiting as a cheap alternative to newspaper advertising makes the real traffic development numbers hard to stomach. Those numbers look like the cost of running a search firm (20% of the first year's salary). We've said many harsh things about the search industry over the years. Never once have we said anything other than "there is a direct correlation between the prices they charge and the value they deliver". Unfortunately, the cost of acquiring candidates is rapidly exceeding their reach.

In summary, the job board in a box offerings are slow to take off because they confront customers with a harsh reality and no solution. In a permanent labor shortage, anyone who promises cheaper is smoking pot. The solution involves owning up to the harsh new reality and delivering the right product.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Paying Candidates

(October 17, 2000) It's here and we like it. is offering incentives to candidates for disclosing information about themselves, reading job ads and pawing through email related to their interests. In a partnership with, Headhunter offers careerists the opportunity to accumulate something like frequent flyer miles. Awards can be earned for use at Hilton, Barnes and Noble, Macy's, Sprint, Red Lobster and a stack of others. is one of a number of services that provide a vehicle for maintaining web visitor loyalty and expanding on it. (BTW, the others include Cybergold, clickRewards, Netcentives, RewardsPrograms and ecentives). These companies allow their customers and alliance partners to incent visitors for more information, measurable behavior or repeat visits. With the mypoints program in place, Headhunter now has a way to build loyalty and pay its users for their time.

When labor is scarce, you have to pay it for its time.

The program was so obvious that we should have been able to see it coming. That's why we think it's an absolutely brilliant move. Our hats are off to the folks at headhunter for being the first to figure out how (and why) to pay candidates.

It's just the beginning!

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Foundations Of an SBB (Part 3)

(October 16, 2000) We're starting to have an interesting package of the characteristics of an SBB (single belly button) vendor in the E-Recruiting space:
  • Objectivity
  • Ability to Measure Job Board Performance
  • Simple Decision Making Design
  • Ability to Help Customers Spend (and choose) Effectively
  • Dynamic Measurement of Job Board Performance
  • Interface with Major Applicant Tracking Systems
  • One Step Posting To Major Outlets
  • Data Consolidation (resume standardization)
  • Website Hosting
  • Website Traffic Development
This is enough to justify thinking of a player as a potential SBB. It isn't, however, enough to provide single point accountability in the relationship. Additional things an SBB ought to provide include:
  • Recommendations For Applicant Tracking, Workflow and Enterprise Installations
  • Copy Editing and Improvement
  • Brand Development Assistance
  • Systems Integration Assistance
  • Print Campaign Integration
  • Gateway Services:
    • Assessment
    • Background Checking and Screening
    • Constant Development of New Sources
    • Performance Prediction and Fine Tuning by Source
  • Staffing Audits and Improvement Techniques
  • Staffing Source Selection
  • Unified Billing (Single Invoice)
  • Integrated Data Management (from all sources to customer system)
The list makes it clear that most of the current infrastructure players and wannabe's have a long way to go. While an enterprise software provider could, in theory, execute most of these systems, we're more likely to think that the channel marketers of enterprise players are in a better position to deliver real service.

In case we haven't been clear enough, objectivity and a total emphasis on customer effectiveness are at the heart of the SBB play.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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