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Think About The Market
(April 05, 2001) With estimates ranging from 120 Million to 140 Million and average job tenure at just about 3.5 years, there are between 30 and 35 Million job hunters annually. Given a median salary of about $30K and an average cost to fill a job of 30% of the first years salary, that is a market value of about $360,000,000,000. That's $360 Billion and doesn't include contract or temporary employment expenses. It doesn't include internal job changes or promotions. It doesn't include so called professional services. We have no trouble believing that the real market value for our industry is about $1.5 Trillion and growing rapidly.

So when analyst companies like IDC offer low ball pictures of industry revenues, we giggle quietly. They don't understand that the extreme shortage of workers is driving expenditures and tactics to levels that are historically unimaginable. They fail to grasp the regional essence of the marketplace. They mistake job posting revenues (our numbers say in way excess of $2B this year) for the depth and breadth of the market.

Think about the historical executive search sector. What is a search firm really but a job board with a higher price point and deeper customer service? Placement agencies and recruitment advertising agencies are extremely difficult to distinguish from Job Boards and their derivatives. A look at business model or web activity can give some clue. But really, (remember last week's harangue of Spencer Stuart?), the difference is mostly in the minds of the people who work there and, hopefully their customers.

Look at the hybrid models, like Talent Fusion. Is it a job board on steroids, an outsourcing service or a PEO posing as a recruiting firm? Who can tell? The important thing about the emerging set of players is that they define success in customer terms, not technical ones.

Does the market have room for new technology? Certainly. But the over arching emphasis on the development of unique technology is a critical reason for the difficulties facing many of the players in the game. A competent job board can be acquired from an ASP for under $100K per year (allowing for some variable costs associated with success). That's far less than two full time technical people would cost.

Rather than focusing on customer service and market opportunity, we have far too many firms throwing money down the technology rat hole. It's a shame and leads to many of the data integration problems suffered by the users.

We wonder why the managers of the troubled companies aren't canning their technical teams as they move towards profitability. With a market opportunity this large, it seems like acquiring customers should be the only game in town.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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