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The Whole Elephant
(February 26, 1998) Remember the Sufi tale about the blind wise men and the elephant? The king sent four blind sages out to discover the nature of a strange new beast. Grabbing the elephant's tail, one said, "It's like a broom." With his arms around a leg, the second declared, "No, it's just like a tree." Straddling the trunk, the third, amazed at how stupid his comrades were proclaimed, "Can't you tell? An elephant is like a hose." The fourth, known for grasping the big picture, felt the animal's torso and chastised his peers for not being able to tell that an elephant is just like luggage.
Our experience of the web is much like the experience of the blind wise men. With our arms firmly around a piece of the puzzle, we're each convinced that we see the entire picture.
It's not likely to be true.
The web really is as new and strange as the elephant was to those blind men. We learn about it with the same technique as they did. When the web seems best suited to this or that purpose, we try it out until the metaphor stops working. That doesn't mean that the approach completely loses its effectiveness. Rather, measured effectiveness declines as the metaphor wears out.
In the early days, the web looked an awful lot like a new way to publish to a large audience. As such, the idea of job postings (a misleading way to describe ads) took hold. If you were lucky enough to be using job postings at the beginning, the results were nothing short of phenomenal. Job postings routinely produced an abundant supply of candidates.
As the web's population grew, the number of job postings also grew. From 70,000 in 1995 to 7,000,000 in 1997, the number of Usenet postings grew at an average rate of 5,000% per year. The predictable result was that effectiveness plummeted because the web population only grew at one tenth of that rate. You could reasonably suggest that, all other things being equal, a job posting is one tenth as effective today as it was two years ago.
In other words, the measured effectiveness of job postings is wearing out as the core metaphor (the web is a broadcast publishing medium) declines in usefulness.
This poses great problems for those who would evaluate the web as if it were a static thing. Site ratings, rooted in an estimate of effectiveness for this or that recruiting need, are out of date as soon as they are developed. Why? The dynamics of web population growth, average user experience and advertising volume combine to create a set of variables that behave differently than conventional experience would suggest.
We think it's a broom. We'd like to have an easy to use guide that compares all brooms. But, it's really an elephant.
What's really interesting about the ratings process on the web is: as soon as you declare a "best site", their sales volume will expand and reduce the site's overall effectiveness (unless the site has an aggressive traffic development plan in the back room tailored for growth contingencies).
You might be saying, "That's well and good but what the hell do I do with it?" We'd suggest that you approach the idea of proceduralizing your electronic recruiting efforts with great caution. The web is evolving very rapidly.
If it were an automobile, the tools are advancing at a rate that looks like a decade per year. (Last year's Model T has changed into this year's tiny widowed Ford Sedan.) If you were to design your garage to maintain today's web, it would be as useless as a Model T garage is for maintaining a contemporary Lexus. While clarity will emerge, we're not there yet.
We still think the elephant is a broom.
The Unemployment Office
(February 25, 1998) With the exception of the web, name the one place that offers career guidance, job listings and help with resumes. The only one we know of is the local unemployment office. The role of the local unemployment office in recruiting is, politely, modest.
Generally, job hunters turn to large databases and impersonal service out of fear, desperation or in the midst of a crisis. Use of the non-web unemployment office is motivated by a check (unemployment benefits). What would lead a person with common sense to believe that the identical functions would prosper anywhere (online or off) without a financial motive?
In the long run, the answer is simple. No one in their right mind. The very idea that recruiting operations that function like unemployment offices have a long term future is misplaced. Particularly in a market driven by generational labor shortages.
In the "real world", recruiting takes place right where people live and work. In a tight labor market, jobs go in search of people. Advertisements appear in a nest of content that interests the potential candidate. Recruiters call into the office. Professional networks and associations produce contacts and meetings. The golf course creates opportunity. Bars facilitate introductions. Little league games, boat shows, jogging trails, PTAs, alumni associations and carpools are all more likely to produce the next assignment than the unemployment office.
The unemployment office has lines, bureaucrats and last resort candidates. The first visit is often an exercise in humiliation and confusion. Outside of Hollywood and seasonal construction trades, no one needs or wants to get good at using the service.
Why do you suppose that so many online services seem to be modeled after this low usage approach?
(February 24, 1998) CareerMosaic continues to plow ground in the ad distribution business. Through a series of well targeted alliances and niches, the service is expanding its throughput and coverage. The folks at CM are clearly wrestling their huge success into the tiny niches where candidates really live.
Here's the current roster. They seem to be adding more each day.
In addition, Career Mosaic appears to be building out a solid partnership with Yahoo. It includes regional job fairs (take a look at the Dallas Fair and the Yahoo Dallas Site.) We expect to see the partnership extended to all of the regional Yahoos. With a tiny bit of web/databse integration, they could easily expand into well trafficked zipcode level job fairs.
Our hats are off to the folks behind these projects.
(February 23, 1998) Best Internet Recruiter, who we raved about last week, has joined us as a sponsor. Click on the button to visit them. They offer one-stop recruitment advertising placement. We're proud to have them as a sponsor.
The more we think about the HotJobs approach to recruiting online, the more impressed we become. Their clear focus combines a reduction in hassle for recruiters and a solid emphasis on delivering results. Expect to see the features they offer become widespread industry standards. The job hunting features allow a candidate to easily track his or her job hunt, their instant-form engine reduces data entry errors, their back end integrates the recruiting workspace. All in all, it creates an environment in which the recruiter-candidate transaction is targeted for improvement. They're breaking conceptual ground!
The name CareerBuzz evokes images of a martini swilling Rat Pack escapade with a slurred narration by Dean Martin. So, we clicked. Instead, we found a career hive and several varieties of bumbling insect. Notably, and probably in honor of Mr. Martin, the Stinger allows you to "develop a virtual personality." (We suppose that if you have a candidate who is in need of a personality, this is the place to send them.)
A product of Success Advertising, a Recruitment Ad Firm, Career Buzz goes to the extreme of including "beemail" and Lewis and Clark Bees (career guides immodestly borrowed from PJScout). The online rate card includes the following price structure:
Their FAQ page includes a potentially brilliant feature with the following description:
So you don't sweat it! Hit this button when a nosey (sic) neighbor or supervisor comes by. They'll never know you're having fun or looking at other job prospects.Unfortunately, the so called "panic button" is not linked to anything and is guaranteed to produce rather than reduce panic. We're pretty sure that "nosy" means busybody while "nosey" implies a nose of Jimmy Durante proportion. We're not sure why you'd worry about someone with a big nose knowing that you were looking for a job.
CareerBuzz joins our pile of "names least likely to produce results" with CareerBabe. We're looking forward to CareerBordello, CareerBimbo, CareerBeer, CareerBite, CareerBlowhard, CareerBombardier, CareerBanana, Career Balloon, CareerBigWig, CareerBike, CareerBS, CareerBritanic, CareerBrainDrain, CareerBozo, CareerBusybody, CareerBurrito, CareerBrotherinlaw, CareerBuffoon, CareerBingo, CareerBO, CareerBoat, CareerBobbit, CareerBowling, or CareerBaglady.
(February 02, 1997): Our educational series has been expanded. We will be delivering seminars in 15 cities this Winter. We will be offering both of our successful courses, updated to reflect the changing web environment.
Seminar I: Management, Strategies and Tactics
Seminar II: Advanced Searching and Sourcing
Graduates of both receive:
Enroll today, seats are still available. There is a discount available for early registrations.
This is our Winter 1998 Seminar Schedule. We will be delivering both seminars in each city.
Call our offices for more information at (800) 358-2278
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