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(August 22, 1997): While the spotlight continues to be on bigness, we wonder if the web won't evolve toward smallness. The technology encourages one to one communication. The labor market is undergoing a generational tightening.
Those two factors alone argue against successful bigness.
For a peek at the alternative, check out craigs-list community. The very simply executed site (intentionally hard to read) automates a mailing list that is moderated by the site's owner. With postings about events, jobs, apartments and positions wanted, the site serves the San Francisco Net Community. While it's a labor of love on the part of the list's "moderator", the service turns out to be a critical component of the trench level staffing moves in "Multimedia Gulch".
While it's devoid of the trappings of hype and flash, the vibrant community represented in the mailing list is a prototype of the kind of recruiting that will dominate our future. Rooted in relationships and shared professional interests, the underlying human network is what recruiters in HR and agencies need to consider developing.
In a market characterized by generational labor shortages, recruiting requires lots of long range planning. The results may well look like craigs-list community. The net result is a local candidate pool concentrated within a specific industry.
Models of success built on traffic volume have a terribly difficult problem to overcome. For every doubling in size, the available information gets twice as complex. That means that the size related development costs must include constant database interface improvements and refinements. Without solid revenue, the task usually gets short shrift. The result is usually described as success..."our visitors do X searches per visit"...even though the claim is an indication of a failure to provide the right information at the right time.
In a model where size more closely approximates hiring needs, the cost is more easily directed to individual customer service. The effect is in keeping with the nature of the web. It is strongest as a "narrow-casting" or one to one communication tool. It is weakest as a broadcast tool. It's weaknesses are amplified when old fashioned broadcast tool models (classified advertising) are simply reapplied.
Did you ever stop to wonder why television didn't develop classified advertising until QVC?.
(August 21, 1997): Yogi Berra might have said, "It's 50% of halfway there." NPM Advertising has introduced a solid (if somewhat graphically burdened) step forward in the recruitment media placement arena. Rooted in the distribution model pioneered by Net Temps, the service allows you to place ads in seven services from a single form. (They're finalizing the deals with various "free" services).
The power of the service is terribly served by dopey graphics, inadequate explanations, and a bizarre cartoon bus ride. Weaknesses aside, the site offers an interesting comparative analysis of the major posting sites.
A total blunder from a design perspective, the fact remains that the core service (follow the demo instructions) is a pioneering move at a great price point.
Would you like to have a stream of resumes coming to you each and every day that have been posted on the Internet and are less than 24 hours old? Oh, and you can also select what resumes you want to receive according to specific skill sets that you desire. One more thing, would you like to send all those resume owners an automated e-mail message introducing yourself and expressing your desire to talk with them? Well its here!Recruiters tell us that the automated searches produce the right kinds of resumes at the right time. Like many other sites, the design leaves much to be desired. The underlying performance is astonishing.
We got our seventh piece of spam from National Business Employment Weekly. Times must be tough in their ad business. You would have bet that they'd be savvier.
We don't often get over-enthused about potential technologies. But, check this one out. Biologists are testing the potential of using bacteria as computer storage devices.
We happened upon a great resource for Recruiters of all shapes and sizes. Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler, the energy behind CareerXroads, publish an occasional newsletter. We've placed a copy in our archives and plan to make them available to you. Well worth the read. Mark and Gerry's bias offers a very solid supplement to the editorial perspective we bring you. Take a moment to read their newsletter. We're sure you'll like it.
Current surveys forecast 268 million PCs online by 2001
(August 20, 1997): We're jaded from years of watching the next great thing shout its way on to the stage followed by a whimpering departure. It's tempting to think that there's an inverse relationship between hype and performance: the more hype, the less performance. To a degree, it's true.
Quietly, with little hype and lots of performance, a new search engine has begun to take center stage.
NorthernLight is a search tool with a difference. The competition (AltaVista, Lycos, Excite and the rest of the pack) are busy trying to create workable business models. They've had deal to deal with the harsh realities of free services that we described yesterday.
NorthernLight, on the other hand, opened its doors with an interesting model and very useful performance features. Besides delivering a solid web index that is beginning to rival AltaVista or HotBot, the service offers access to a library of a million documents available nowhere else. If you want to see them, you pay by the article. The collection includes archived material from hundreds of specialty journals and may be of some interest in high profile searches. All other searches are free.
But, the real strength of the NorthernLight approach is the way that search results are displayed. As a part of its search method, the results of your query are displayed in Custom Se arch Folders. These folders categorize groups of similar kinds of documents. So, the process of refining your initial question is greatly simplified. Even better, resumes are one of the key document classes tracked by NorthernLight. So, your initial results are likely to include a folder of searchable candidates. The search engine also tracks and categorizes "Personal Web Pages". If you don't find candidates who are actively in the market, personal home pages are a remarkable source of passive job hunters who have demonstrated their personal initiative and probably have documented their accomplishments.
Each search "hit" contains a nice synopsis and the date of the document. The description begins with a bold document classification. So, if it's the kind of thing you're looking for, you'll have an indicator right below the link. It's easy to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Finally, Job Listings are one of the document types tracked by NorthernLight. Nearly every search we've tested returned a "custom folder" of related job opportunities. All of the job opportunities we saw were from company and agency websites, not commercial job listing services.
Take a moment to visit and bookmark NorthernLight. The site sets a new standard for usability in search engines. Its document classification scheme and custom folders are likely to have a direct impact on our industry.
Another Free Lunch
(August 19, 1997): By now, you know that we think that free sites are, in fact, horribly expensive. (See our archives!) The real cost of using a job service has only a limited relationship to the price of the listing itself. The bulk of the cost is the changes you have to make to your internal processes. The reason that "free" services are so risky is that you can not reasonably predict the longevity of a company with no revenue stream.
That being the case, you'd expect that a well conceived and executed entry into the market would address these concerns. In any arena, web or otherwise, a company's credibility is a central component of its marketing pitch.
The Staffing Page has gleefully entered the freebie fray. The site offers listing and searching for HR, Agencies, and Candidates. Designed as a gateway for candidates and HR professional to find staffing firms, the site marries both parties to the middle.
But, The Staffing Page seems to have forgotten (or never learned) the rudiments of credibility development. For starters, the modest design doesn't bother to include any information about the company behind the project or its incentives for making the free offering. There is simply no way of knowing who this company is or why you should use their services. Then, in a fit of terrible interface design, the site's search engine opens with a default search (Accounting Agencies in Alabama) that has no results. (Someone should tell them that the first credibility test that any search engine gets is "does the default query produce results?").
We are increasingly persuaded that all web design teams need to have an outside set of eyes and ears. Call it usability design or call it a BS Detection Squad. Forcing your design through a "vetting" process is liable to save you the embarrassment and damage that The Staffing Page will cause its parent company.
(August 18, 1997): Most search engines include "Boolean" searches. Named after mathematician George Boole, who invented the system, it means nothing more than using a series of words or operators to include or exclude specific items from your search.
When you go to Burger King, you might ask for a Whopper, hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, add mustard (Whopper - pickles -lettuce + mustard). You use the same logic in your searches (and check your favorite engine's site for advanced searching tips to understand how they implement Boolean logic) and you will find your hits coming much closer to what you are actually looking for.
This only scratches the surface of what you can do with advanced searching techniques. Some sites use different styles of operators to create your searches (Alta Vista uses a minus sign to indicate NOT), but the general concepts are the same. Almost all general search engines have a "Search Tips" option to explain how to do advanced searches at their site.
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