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Mail Security and Filters
(May 30, 1997): We had an interesting experience the other day. An over-enthusiastic webmaster sent us a copy of a piece of email that he'd stumbled upon. When we asked how he'd come across the mail, he mentioned that it's possible for any one who controls a mail server to read the mail in that server. We politely suggested that reading other people's mail violated ethical standards in our opinion.
We don't want to be alarmists. But, if you use a service that forwards your mail, we'd advise calling them and asking about their mail security policies. Make sure that they explain to you exactly how they ensure your privacy. Make sure that it's a part of any contract that you sign.
Frankly, it may be worth the risk of having your mail read to use some of the "spam" filtering services that have popped up around the industry. It's a pain to learn how to filter the stuff yourself. It's generally an easy tradeoff -- more spam vs more privacy.
If you want to protect your correspondence from competitors, we suggest getting your own domain name and a mail server dedicated to your needs. Most ISPs can provide the service. A new website offers fairly detailed instructions for implementing personal "spam" filters. The instructions are easy to follow. You can check it out at http://www.mmgco.com/nospam/.
The Last War
(May 29, 1997): The United States Army has put itself through a remarkable transition over the generation since Vietnam. Historically, victorious armies fall into a vicious trap of "fighting the last war". The American Army has pioneered management approaches that aim to prevent the problem. With organizational mechanisms for checking and rechecking core assumptions, the contemporary Army is a model of organizational flexibility. They've managed to balance the discipline required to "preserve and protect" while institutionalizing a "question authority" dynamic.
We got to thinking about the "fighting the last war" mind set after several recent conversations with folks in the newspaper industry. In most American towns, there are racks of free "Real Estate" advertising flyers. Developed by real estate agencies and small publishers, the migration of Real Estate classifieds to small independent firms was the "last war" for the classified advertising section managers. They lost, big time.
So, when a newspaper person thinks about the question of electronic employment advertising, the process is often rooted in the bad memories of losing all of that real estate business. The raw profit in newspaper Recruitment advertising (and it's very significant) is rooted in industrial assumptions that allow for the seemingly outrageous prices per ad. Since the web is so good at "wringing out the inefficiencies" in transactions, the recruitment business looks like an environment that features increased volume with rapidly declining margins and revenues.
Given the rigid way in which the newspaper industry perceives itself, it's easy to imagine that recruitment advertising will disappear much as real estate ads did. It's not that there aren't tremendous market opportunities. It's certainly not the case that recruitment budgets are going to decline. Rather, the newspapers' problem is simply mind set.
Operating, as they do, at the nexus of advertising agencies, content creators, distribution expertise and corporate "connectedness", there are few institutions positioned as well as newspapers. But, just as WWII tactics failed the military in Vietnam, fighting the last war will fail the newspapers. Like most web implementation problems, the core issues are organizational, not technical.
Bad Design, Bad Timing
(May 28.5, 1997): Structured resumes, which may be very powerful inside a corporate firewall, simply don't fit the web job hunter's profile. Structured resumes, an idea pioneered by Intellimatch, are detailed forms that a job hunter fills out to ensure a better match. Apparently, the only way to kill the idea that they are useful tools is by implementing them badly. While Intellimatch is working hard to refine its interface to maximize its effectiveness, there appears to be a vacuum being filled.
Last night, we received a promotional note from a company called Chase Professionals who have developed what they refer to as "Internet's 100% Confidential Recruiting Source" (sic). It's a structured resume / job posting board.....with no jobs. All we can figure is that the company's motto must be "we Chase Professionals away".
Chase Professionals will provide the ultimate database of professionals from all fields of employment. The database will be accessible through an intelligent matching of skills and experience required for the particular position.Well, duh! Hello, Hello! Anyone home?
We are willing to bet that the CEO's mother is a big fan of this so called mission statement. It certainly doesn't merit being placed in the most likely to be clicked spot on the page.
But, it gets better. By having no jobs, forcing job hunters to register before scoping the system out and forcing employers to make a phone call before seeing the system at work, ChasePro manages to effectively eliminate all chances for the site to succeed. On snowy east coast days, we used to joke that the "beltway was open but all the ramps were closed". It sums up the net worth of the ChasePro venture in its current form.
(May 28, 1997): We keep a number of resumes around the web as a way of monitoring the tactics of online recruiters. It means that we are exposed to any number of scams, schemes and propositions from recruiters, get rich quick artists and other junk mailers.
Once we've eliminated the truly outrageous solicitations from the inbox, we take time to carefully review the offers and correspondence from legit recruiting firms. Usually, we visit the website and make an evaluation for our ongoing industry analysis. Though the landscape does vary, the state of the art remains very dismal.
Many sites still use counters (those little images at the bottom of the page that tell how many people have visited the site). It should be clear by now that there are two variables to consider before you place a counter on your page. If your site has enough traffic, you probably don't care to let the world know the details of your traffic. For a large site, a counter adds no value. If your site is struggling to get off the ground, you probably don't want anyone to know how little traffic you've had. In other words, there is no good reason to have a page counter.
Another gimmick that remains popular in spite of itself is the "self folding email animation". Why this bizarre animation is ever used remains one of the central mysteries of the 20th century. Because the animation blinks and flutters, the reader's eyes are distracted from the site's content. So, while adding no value, the mail animation serves to degrade the attention and interaction available to a user. When we see these things, we imagine an insecure designer thinking "the site is so mucked up that if I add an animation it will distract from a critical look at our operations".
We saw our current favorite no value added gimmick on a recent visit to a site called Your Connection to Your Future Career. The guestbook is heavily promoted at the bottom of the page. A quick look reveals pointers to "naked women" and a fundamentalist Christian message. We think that the diversity represented in this small sampling (4 entries in the heavily promoted guestbook) is entertaining. We wonder though if it doesn't put off potential candidates and customers. The company behind Your Connection to Your Future Career went to the trouble of finding one of our resumes and sending bulk email. You'd think that they'd want to keep their site free from these sorts of distractions.
On the web, the hardest thing to acquire is someone's attention. Don't fritter that hard won victory away with gimmicks that either don't add value or actually detract from your message.
(May 27, 1997): The sign on the door says "One stop shopping for Federal statistics". FedStats provides just that. With access to detailed government information from over 80 agencies, the site is a "must bookmark" for Recruiters trying to navigate our changing demographic and technical environment.
Massive looming shortages of employees will be unevenly distributed around the economy. A solid study of the information available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau will help you orient your efforts to the real requirements emerging in your region.
Seminar Recap (Round 1)
(May 26, 1997): After an exhausting one month road trip, we're back in the office for a short while. The seminars went very well. Over 200 people from News Publications, 3rd Party Recruiters, Advertising Agencies, College Placement Offices and HR Departments participated in the sessions. Small class sizes enabled us to deliver material tailored to each of the audiences.
What we discovered was an extraordinary level of talent, expertise, passion, commitment and curiosity. These are the fundamental requirements for successful online recruiting. We were amazed by the depth of skills and capabilities represented in the seminar rooms.
The Web will never deliver permanent solutions to recruiting problems. After all, it's a medium (just like clay is a medium for sculpture). As we moved across the country, we discovered many delightfully capable people wrestling with the application of this medium to their particular business. As the environment changes, great web applications will be tailored to meet shifting business requirements. There's no magic pill in cyberspace.
Advanced Internet Recruiting Seminars
(May 23, 1997): We're delivering Seminars around the country in the Summer. The schedule is:
Click here to learn more about the seminars and register online. Class size is limited to 30 per seminar. The seminars run from 9:00AM to 4:30PM. Take a look at a list of companies who have been to the seminars.
The past 16 months of the Electronic Recruiting News
The past 16 months of the Electronic Recruiting News
Besides our industry analyses and newsletters, we help recruiters integrate this new technology into their operations. We've added a detailed description of IBN to the website. We'd love to help you.
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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.