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Hot Jobs

(July 18, 2003) - We had the chance to spend some time with Dan Finnigan, the GM of HotJobs and Senior VP of Yahoo. A long time newspaper industry player, Dan has been in charge of the HotJobs universe for slightly more than a year now. In that time, HotJobs has been steadily closing the traffic gap with Monster. The June numbers gave Monster 10.2 Million visitors while HotJobs showed 8.9.

Dan views Yahoo as the successor to the newspapers. He believes that Yahoo is (or is becoming) the daily information utility.  Yahoo members search and use the various functions of My Yahoo (mail, calendaring, IM) in a way that replaces the old daily newspaper. HotJobs, from his perspective, is a central feature of that daily news utility. With that level of traffic, it's a hard point to argue.

Yahoo can afford to develop and improve search engine technologies and matching engine functionality. In fact, this week's acquisition of Overture underscores the strategic importance of search technology as a fundamental competence in the Yahoo business model. Each incremental improvement is basic search techniques allows HotJobs to improve its reach and increase the quality of the services it delivers to the Yahoo membership.

In a very short year, Finnigan has turned HotJobs from an independent operation into a tightly coupled feature of Yahoo's offering. It's an amazing transformation, most acquisitions have a far rockier road. Yahoo intends to be an "end to end search operation" and HotJobs is becoming a critical component. That means that the next several increments of success will involve more effective harvesting of the Yahoo membership base.

Finnigan has remained surprisingly true to his roots. By reshaping HotJobs into the Recruitment Advertising section of the Yahoo empire, he has set an example that his old friends in the newspaper business would do well to understand. In many ways (and, we think more will come) Hot Jobs is becoming the Recruitment access point for all of the Yahoo membership, not just a job board for some who wish to use it. This is the model that Google, AOL, MSN and other large 'portals' will ultimately follow.

In another five years, the newspaper industry will be adopting the tools and techniques that Finnigan and team are perfecting today.

Unlike the various tactical problems faced by a pure job board, Yahoo's membership is bounded and well served. For HotJobs to grow and sustain its traffic, the basic technique becomes mining and conversion of existing users. The fate and success of the operation are tied to improved value delivery to existing subscribers. It's an operations problem involving time honored questions of improved yield and quality.

It's a fundamentally different problem than the one facing independent job boards. Finnigan's crew can relax while the Yahoo engine provides a feed of traffic growth. They can carefully pick the opportunities to develop candidate volume in critical areas. The independents are stuck with a permanent branding and traffic cost while HotJobs is freed to focus on somewhat higher level tasks.

From a sales perspective, HotJobs has become a question of timely upsell to Yahoo's existing base of 350,000 small business customers. Again, being a part of a larger juggernaut allows the HotJobs team to focus more on known customers and less on customer acquisition.

You can tell we were impressed. In Dan Finnigan's hands, HotJobs has been transformed into a productive asset for Yahoo. We're expecting to see a range of offerings in the near future that increase access to 'passive' candidates in the Yahoo base. We're certain that Dan's crowd will start setting matching standards and move the game forward quickly with techniques that can only be developed when the audience is fixed and loyal. The results will be the benchmark for internal recruitment advertising operations.

 John Sumser

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