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Looking Back
(July 19, 2001) We've been at this for just over seven years. In that time, lots of things have come and gone. Looking back through our Industry Analyses, we remember when the entry of CareerPath (the newspaper companies' first play in the space) looked like a 10,000 pound gorilla.

It came and went. Bang, long pause, whimper.

It looked, for a while, like Restrac (now known as Webhire) had the momentum to really change things. Bang, long pause, whimper.

Remember CareerMosaic? The Online Career Center? Intellimatch? IHRIM? Datamain? Heart? kforce.com? AIRS in its heyday? The discovery of cabs as advertising vehicles? Dice when Lloyd ran it out of his bedroom? Monster, when it sold for $1M? HRXML? The first superbowl ad?

Each year we spend exploring this market brings a new "fair haired boy". This year's award goes to Recruitsoft. We wonder if they've looked back at history as they spend their energy arcing faster than anyone could support. One very predictable thing about their rise is that it will have an associated fall. As a customer considering a purchase, timing is everything.

As the fall moves closer, we're expecting stable and interesting offerings from really big players. Microsoft is coming. Oracle is coming, Peoplesoft is trying to come. SAP is coming. With any luck, they'll fare better than last year's incursion of traditional assessment companies who got into the game a day late and a dollar short.

You'd think that, by now, we'd be seeing something more interesting than automated versions of old ways of doing things. The notion that spidered resumes, ranked, sorted, sifted, assessed or appended is somehow a technical discriminator belies the fact that the 3rd party recruiters (thanks to the AIRs training) had their way with that pile years ago.

We've been telling people for months now that the air is pregnant with opportunity. Everything that we used to do is automated. The result is faster systems that take the panic associated with reactive recruiting and escalate it to new highs.

Today, you can tell the hiring manager why you're late with his new hires faster than you could yesterday. Launches like CacheMirror give us some hope. At least they seem to understand the role of marketing in product development. Monster is another ray. Somewhere, in all of the pieces, is a fully featured system that allows a recruiter to become proactive. Salary.com is the likely surprise winner of the fall season. Access to people who aren't looking for a new job is one of the missing pieces. Salary.com is the only player who really provides that sort of service, so far.

We'll lose a couple of Applicant Tracking Systems houses in the near future (probably PeopleClick and Webhire). There are plenty of interesting providers to take their places. So far, no one seems to understand that the very metaphor behind those offerings is the problem. Until they convert their services to inventory management systems, they'll come and go.

So, at the beginning of year eight, it looks pretty much the way that it did early on. Lots of movement, little progress, lots of new interesting players, new chairs for the veterans. We remain on the verge of greatness.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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