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September 27, 2002) - Deb Bessmer, the current CEO of Brass Ring, has added a sight gag to her demo bag of tricks. Clearly a big fan of mine, when Ms. Bessmer shows the world her resume search features, she uses "john_sumser@yahoo.com" as the demonstration search phrase. Unveiled at the Chicago ATS shootout, the joke was enough to win Ms. Bessemer's pitch additional audience sympathy.

It's a good joke. Given the extent and rigor of our criticisms, it's a goodhearted turn. We were tickled. 

As Ms. Bessmer was delivering her pitch, the very first customer of BrassRing 5.0 was turning the system on for the first time. It's been a painful year getting to the new product and hopes were high.

BrassRing has an extremely novel view of the world that is rooted in the way the company was formed. In Waltham, MA, the company's resume factory (designed to translate paper into electronic through a massively decentralized web work force) hums along as if there were still huge volumes of paper resumes. The view that the money was in resume services is at the foundation of BrassRing's business model. That's why their pricing structure punishes the customer for using email.

In Version 5.0, Brass Ring has developed a scheme that places a URL in each job ad a customer posts on a job board. When a candidate clicks on the "Apply Here" URL, it takes them into the BrassRing application. Theoretically, this prevents incoming email which makes a lot of accounting and management functions extremely easy (though you wouldn't really know this from the candidate interface).

Anyhow, this is one of the things that didn't work when the customer turned on the system. Candidates applying for jobs on the various job boards received unintelligible messages after clicking on the "apply here" URL. That resulted in huge numbers of calls to lots of job boards (this is a big customer), lots of unhappy candidates, an unhappy customer and upset job boards. An aggressive candidate who submitted an email resume simply cost the customer more.

BrassRing's view of things is that the world can be made into a closed system. By limiting customers to predetermined gateways, with no options for candidates, the system guarantees a lower level of quality throughout the hiring process. While we appreciate the importance of data consistency (one of BrassRing's major strengths), we know that candidates come in all sizes, shapes and data formats. It's one thing to create a preferred approach, it's another to bill punitively for the alternatives and it's yet another to force candidate access through the billable alternative when the system breaks down.

 -Not John Sumser@yahoo.com

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