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Amazing Changes

(April 24, 2006) We live in astonishing times. Walking around, it sometimes seems like we have no clew. (A clew is the ball of yarn that Theseus used to find his way out of the labyrinth. Without one, you are very lost. This is the origin of the phrase "hasn't got a clew".) Things are often not the way we've pictured them.

The other day, walking through the local Target (snottier friends call it Tar-jay with a pseudo-French accent), we saw lots of kids happily at work doing very grown up things. After seeing lots and lots of new immigrants and illegals in the fast food joints, it seemed like kids didn't work in traditional kid places. Yet, here they were, bright and shining..running the inventory process, navigating the huge space that is contemporary shopping. Equally surprising, Tar-jay is not a dumpy variant of the old K-mart. It's a price competitive supplier of everything from iPods to interesting furniture and groceries. With a Starbucks and a Pizza Hut under roof, you could sleep on the lawn furniture and never leave.

It seems like everything we know is wrong. We're beginning to believe that many of the folks in our business think, with no good reason,  that they have a solid grasp of the realities of their recruiting markets. Remember the Microsoft games site we picked on? (Really, we loved it but the target audience had very mixed emotions) It's just the tip of the iceberg. Recruiting Departments are out of touch with the very people they try to attract.. The lives led by the 20 something crowd are beyond the imaginings of most corporate executives.

This disorienting sense of the map not matching the terrain extends well into the way that media are used in our industry. How many of the professional recruiters you know understand the implications of Craig's List, the movement towards zero priced job ads, the decline of the newspaper or the emergence of blogs. These trends, part and parcel of the way business is done, portend big changes in the process of reaching out to those very 20 somethings.

The issue arose as we considered the results of our questions about referral programs. While Hans Gieskes kindly replied in the standard way (email that we could edit), the folks at Jobster responded by posting the answers on their blog. Maybe that's what we should have done when Jason Goldberg asked us his famous five questions. Just as our knickers were getting twisted on this one, we noticed that JobThread had posted a set of answers in their blog. Hmm, we thought, is this another Tarjay?

Measuring the impact of a publication, website or not, is getting harder. Long term readers will giggle a bit at the echo of the blog metrics puff off. The right thing to do for circulation, depth of the argument, success of the readership and a host of other issues isn't as straightforward as it once was. The question of whether we drive traffic to this site or that, always a component of web writing, takes on an interesting flavor under these circumstances.

Jobster and Job Thread are both saying that they are going to make their discussion a part of their in-house propaganda machines. Is this better or worse for the audience and do we support it? Are we somehow bound to point out their work because we raised the questions? Is it really a conversation or a war of competing marketing claims?

The map doesn't match the territory (that's the definition of disoriented). Our fundamental take on this is simple. The audience is smarter than the people who try to make things simple for it. We celebrate the vertical blog discussion and will point it out and try to drive the conversation forward.

Tomorrow, we'll get to the details about referral systems. There's a lot of material to sift through.

 John Sumser . - .  Permalink . - . Today's Bugler

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