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    (May 02, 2002) - The squirming at the newspaper's flagship job board is beginning in earnest. When you type www.careerbuilder.com into your browser, it takes you to www.headhunter.net. In other words, the recent coup at CareerBuilder led to a jettisoning of the CareerBuilder technology in favor of the tools of the ultimate victor. It flips and flops faster than the conspiracies on the X-Files. Customers be damned, the internal politics are Roman in their complexity. It's a sort of Dallas for anyone interested in a local soap opera.

    So what?

    The real problem is that CareerBuilder and Headhunter had two radically different views of pricing, customer service and so on. The one trick ponies at Headhunter.net (who actually did shoot JR) saw the merger of the two companies as a battle over who was right. They could have taken the time to evaluate what was best for customers. But, in typical newspaper fashion, old useful policies were swept out in the purge. As we've come to expect in newspaper projects, it was a battle over ideology, not service.

    That means that customers who have been using CareerBuilder reliably for years have just had their noses rubbed in the more corrupt approach of Headhunter pricing. In the Headhunter worldview (which never reached any meaningful sort of market momentum), a customer looking for employees has one of two options: pay to be listed or (for a premium) pay to be seen. Headhunter's technology manipulates search results so that premium payers get higher visibility in the search results. There's a reason that no one else has adopted this approach.

    That's fine (although we're astonished that the newspapers are so aggressive about penalizing their day-to-day customers if the approach sticks).

    But, CareerBuilder customers who have invested time and resources in learning the CareerBuilder way have just had their investments reduced to nothing without so much as an apology or a technical roadmap out of the problem. Headhunter customers, used to having to purchase the turbocharged premium package, have been granted the right to better performance over the existing CareerBuilder customers. And, the policy was imposed over night.

    For X dollars, a CareerBuilder customer used to be entitled to Y returns. By adding an advantage that favors the Headhunter base, the company has essentially changed the rules without notice to more than 60% of its base. CareerBuilder customers did what all users do: they learned to work with the system to make it produce maximum results. Now, their postings float to the bottom of the pile immediately rather than slowly degrading over time.

    That's why we're getting notes from unhappy CareerBuilder customers who are withholding payments until the situation is reconciled.

     -John Sumser

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