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It is better
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John Sumser

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Direct Employers

(May 12, 2004) - It's a pretty impressive list. 152 reasonably big name companies are a part of the Direct Employers consortium. It's a massive collection of the jobs available at the country's largest employers.

From social software and alumni services to college recruiting and additional alumni tools, DirectEmployers offers a pretty impressive array of services.

A series of creative alliances power this novel approach to recruitment advertising. NACELink, the college Recruiting offering from the National Association of Colleges and Employers is a vestigial offering from an ld school college recruiting operation. Traffic and placement alliances with Classmates.com, Execunet and LinkedIn offer the potential for long term traffic acquisition as a barter.

At the core service level, Direct Employers "scrapes" jobs from member company databases and displays them in a centralized job database. A good way of thinking about the offering is that it is technically very similar to CareerCast's "National Network" (another job scraping operation). One difference between the two is that Direct Employers only scrapes material from paid, participating companies. The other significant difference is the range of services offered to members. Traffic remains a hypothetical for both operations, dependent, as it is, on alliance execution.

More significantly, DirectEmployers is an overt rebuke to the way things are. The companies that have joined the non-profit association have done so because they are trying to move beyond traditional pricing and execution in the Recruitment marketplace. DirectEmployers allows the participating operations to leverage their own brands as a way of producing candidates. Like a black hole, the higher the density of participating companies, the theory goes, the more traffic will be sucked in.

While the Alexa traffic ranking (17,000ish) doesn't demonstrate success just yet, it's early in the game. The proof of the concept will be at hand in the coming upturn. Direct Employers is testing, like Ladders, the idea that job listings are content and that content is enough to drive traffic. While we'd bet against the idea in its current formulation, there are very positive potentials.

It's our belief that the economic upturn has arrived, that it will last five or six years and that the net result will be heightened competition for the eyeballs of available workers. The trouble with the DirectEmployer's business model is that it does not represent an adequate budget for traffic acquisition. Flat annual pricing and content that is completely limited to job listings puts the operation in an untenable bind if the labor market heats up.

That can be solved with a couple of obvious improvements.

First of all, member companies should be required to leverage their brands in support of the concept. Rather than returning a "no jobs available" screen when a particular member's website does not have a listing, traffic should be redirected to the larger national database. This would begin to get at the traffic acqusition problem.

Secondly, flat pricing for all customers, even when they are as homogenous as the current membership, creates winners and losers. When the competition heats up, this current strength becomes a critical competitive disadvantage. Work should begin immediately to rectify the obvious flaws.

We like the core concept. Companies working together to leverage their assets as a part of recruitment operations adds a critical component to our marketplace. We'll keep watching.

John Sumser

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