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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall

It's better to
do a few things
really well than
than to do
a lot of things
If you can't
make the necessary
commitments of
time and energy
to your
scale back
your plan.
John Sumser

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(August 14, 1998) What is the technical term for a superficial and misleading analysis? We can only come up with the unprintable b***s***. We happened across yet another piece of bad advice distributed on an HR mailing list.

It was an essay on the process one should use to pick an Online Recruitment Advertising Supplier. In a nutshell, it said (metaphorically)

  • Look at the car, is it pretty?
  • It should have a door, can you find it? Is it easy to open? Can you see the road from the driver's seat?
  • Do other cool people own a car like this?
  • Sit in the car and pretend you are driving it? Does it feel cool? Do you want to be a racecar driver when you grow up?
  • Now you know enough to buy it. Give the nice lady some money.
Given the fact that a year's worth of most Online Recruitment Ads would easily make the payment on the Beamer we've been eyeing, the analogy isn't that far off.

The article reminded us of "Mr. Rogers Visits Electronic Recruiting." In the rush to market, lots of pundits are poking their heads out of their gopher holes. We like the company but wish that they'd start serving full meals. Cotton candy is not a good component of a healthy diet.

If you are faced with the question of choosing an online Recruitment Advertising Supplier, the only way to know if you're making the right decision is by taking it for a test drive. Not as a pretend job hunter but as a recruiter. Most credible services encourage potential customers to "try before you buy".

Given that effective recruiting includes tailoring your ad copy for each publication, the initial results can be somewhat tentative. There will always be a learning curve as you master the nuances of this service versus that one. The results you get will vary over time.

What our industry doesn't need is a large group of dis-satisfied customers who were misled into thinking that you can judge a book by its cover. You judge Online Recruitment services by their results. It takes time and involves less role-playing and more response testing.

- John Sumser


(August 13, 1998) Classifieds2000 is the only member of our little universe to make the latest list of the 50 fastest growing domain names (yesterday's paper version of USA Today). It's fascinating to watch the larger herd chase after the latest hip way of thinking about the Web. Perhaps someone should remind the investors and analysts that a large crowd isn't necessarily a good thing.

Now, if you can sell every member of a mob a tee shirt or a pet rock, perhaps sheer volume could be a good thing. But fast growth rates generally indicate short lifespans. Lottery fever, Internet style, is the motivating factor behind this rush to hugeness.

It is nothing short of remarkable that our "little" industry sits here, behind the hype, actually chugging out profitability and growth measured in dollars. Stock valuations are way up, cash is moving, customers are getting results. Meanwhile, back at the "fad farm", everyone is falling over themselves to latch on to the next big "portal" (the vogue term for large website-tv channel wannabes). We'll ask the question that the market seems to miss. "If you made your money giving directions and suggestions, doesn't becoming a destination cut off your roots?" Or, more simply, do restaurant critics ever open good restaurants?

There are certainly a huge number of improvements coming our way. The competition for customers is bound to heat up. Lottery fever will strike some of us. There will be several casualties. The current business model is quite primitive and our market targeting is limited to cherry picking. But, these are problems that will solve readily with maturity and stable investment flows.

- John Sumser

Writing And Positioning Job Ads

(August 12, 1998) The job posting opens with this paragraph:
As corporate America's wet dream - a low-cost advertising medium with an ever-expanding audience - the Web has become a proliferation of product plugs and repurposed content from other media. Not so in the case of NOVA Online.(emphasis added)
Apart from the language, the remarkable thing about this job posting is that it was positioned as a news item in Wired Magazine's online News Service. Wired, who also publish a Recruitment advertising Service called Dream Jobs, titled the news article "Intern Dream Job".

Is it news or is it an ad? We'll leave the question to the journalism scholars who are still busy counting the number of angels on the head of a pin. We think you should grasp several key things from this little example

  • If you simply view the web as an advertising extension of print, you're missing huge opportunities to discover candidates
  • The web is best seen as a way of communicating
  • The distinction between ads and news is much fuzzier on the web than it is in other areas (You can't always tell the difference)
  • Writing a job posting is not the same as copying language from a job requisition
  • Job ads need to be positioned so that they will be seen by the right audience
With those issues in mind, take a look at Dream Jobs. The site contains a treasure trove of well written job postings that clearly target their audience.

Human Beings learn to use new tools by analogy. If we don't understand something, we compare it to a known quantity and make decisions from there. It's a useful approach to skills acquisition.

The problem with this tactic is that it often creates a "mindset" problem. If you view the web as a different form of News Media, you'll make a series of assumptions about what works and what doesn't. You'd assume, for example, that classified advertising deserves its own section. Posting jobs on job boards is a symptom of this mindset.

The positioning of a job posting as a news story shatters these notions. The important question is how to reach your potential candidates, not where to post your jobs. It's not nearly as subtle as it sounds at first.

- John Sumser


(August 11, 1998) We're increasingly encountering recruiters who have mastered the small niches. They understand that they're purchasing eyeballs. They'd rather pay more per visitor for the right visitors than less for generic visitors.

The bottom line in deciding which job posting service to use? Measure your results by testing several. Results can vary by industry, profession and phase of the moon. Only you can tell where the right intersection is for the results that you need.

One area in which you can exercise control: The quality of your job postings determines their success. Read the archives at dreamjobs. It is a stellar compilation of effective job postings.

It's easy to get confused by a title. Job postings are not postings (like you see on internal bulletin boards). They are ads. They need to be written like ads. They are called postings because advertising was a no-no in the early days of the web. That is no longer the case.

In general, the more jobs posted in a database, the lower results. Unless your provider has a clearly articulated traffic development plan, each new job in the database will diminish the effectiveness of all of the others.

It's important to remember that as the net doubles in population, the average experience of users falls by 50%. This will remain true until service is universal. It means that your sophistication is increasing while the average is declining. It's a recipe for bad design. You have to fight to remember this one.

- John Sumser

The Future

(August 09, 1998) We've been laughed out of some very nice offices for suggesting that Online Recruiting will dwarf conventional methods within five years. Here's a thought. We've recently counted (actually, we estimated since we've run out of fingers and toes) the number of companies with employment pages online. Here's how we did it.

Our crack research team, assembled and working on the 1999 Electronic Recruiting Index, took a random sample of 15,000 company websites from Yahoo!'s listings. They discovered that 22% of these companies had Recruitment Information. The average number of pages devoted to Recruiting info? 7.

Yahoo lists about 350,000 individual companies out of a universe of 1.3 Million with registered domain names (duplicates don't count). The total? It's reasonable to suggest that there are 286,000 companies with jobs advertised on their sites and a total of 2,002,000 pages devoted to the subject. Most of these pages are manually composed and maintained.

Although we're sure to draw gasps, we generally estimate that a well done, manually composed, effectively marketed and maintained single web page costs a company about $1500 (minimum). That's not to say that many of the 2M pages meet the criteria. It just suggests a benchmark for valuing the potential. Using these numbers, the market has invested over $3B in web pages. (Even if you drop the cost of a web page to ridiculously low levels, the final number is still huge.)

Add Job Board revenue of over $400M this year, revenues from pure recruiting plays and various eyeball acquisition programs and you have an industry that, in its infancy, rivals the newspaper Recruitment Advertising Marketplace ($5B).

It's becoming common to see a rep from the Monster Board on TV being introduced as part of the "only business making money on the web." Well, there are a couple of others in our industry and lots of players right on the edge of making it.

The future isn't going to look much like the current playing field. As soon as investors begin to grasp what's going on in our little "tombstone" industry, the money will really begin to flood in. Alliances that use the web as their central metaphor (like the Junglee-Amazon marriage from last week) will begin to overtake conventional databases with their reinvention of the unemployment office metaphor. Training, as a central component of Recruiting practice is shaping as a central performer. Microsoft is demonstrating a powerful total supply chain recruiting model.

At the root, however, is the simple bit of demographics we've been belaboring for years now. There's a worker shortage multiplied by a skills shortage. The future places a premium on solving both simultaneously.

- John Sumser

Recruiting Online:
Fall 1998 Seminar Series

(August 02, 1998): We will be delivering seminars in 18 cities this Fall.

Searching and Sourcing Techniques (The Toolkit)
Faced with an overwhelming array of possibility, Recruiters are swamped with opportunities to waste time on the web. In this seminar, you will learn how to mine the data fields and use your Internet Recruiting time effectively. The one day presentation covers spidering, flipping, and depth searching...all of the tools required to unearth the passive candidate. Our emphasis is on the integration of the Internet into your daily Recruiting activities. The course includes a A CD Chock-Full Of Net Software and Tools.

Seminar Schedule
Sep 21: Boston, MA
Sep 23: Hartford, CT
Sep 25: New York City, NY
Sep 28: Princeton, NJ
Sep 30: Reston, VA
Oct 02: Nashville, TN
Oct 05: Detroit, MI
Oct 07: Tampa, FL
Oct 09: Toronto, Canada
Sep 21: San Diego, CA
Sep 23: Los Angeles, CA
Sep 25: Walnut Creek, CA
Sep 28: Las Vegas, NV
Sep 30: Denver, CO
Oct 02: Schaumburg, IL
Oct 05: Houston, TX
Oct 07: St Louis, MO
Oct 09: San Francisco, CA

Graduates receive:

  • $2,000 In Special Offers From 5 Online Recruiting Services
  • A One Year Subscription ($395 Value) To Our Subscription Only Web Site
  • A CD with over 30 pieces of useful software
  • All Course Materials

    Enroll today, seats are still available. There is a discount available for early registrations. The seminars have a Retail price of $995. If your payment is received by September 1, there is a $150 discount. For Payments received by September 11, the savings is $100. We also offer group discounts You can learn more about the seminars, register online or call our sales office (415) 377-2255 to register.

    Contacting Us
    Call, fax, write, email. We'd love to talk about your project.

    All material on this site is © 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 by IBN:
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