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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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© TwoColorHat.
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(October 22, 1998) As usual, Larry Breault (with a website at is establishing the pace for his peers at Management Recruiters International. Recently, amidst much fanfare and promotion, Larry added a number of links to salary surveys to his attractive website. While the material is not original content (most of the links point to FutureStep salary data and have the odd consequence of dumping a Future step ad into an additional window), Larry basically gets it. Recruiting, in the 21st Century, is about constantly delivering new value to prospective candidates.

When was the last time you met anyone who had a career? Most of the solid players we know have had a number of bounces. From consumer goods to industrial marketing, from banking to accounting, from mainframes to PCs, from MacIntosh to Windows, the essence of their so called careers seems to be in the telling of the story rather than the actual details of the history. That's why we find it so odd that the bulk of online content provided by Recruiting entities is devoted to "career issues".

We have a hard time imagining a 40 year old person who wakes up thinking about his/her career. In fact, we can't imagine that thought process at any time during the day of a productive manager or employee. We're tempted to see the term "career" as a code word for "How can I continue to ensure my employability, challenge and compensation?"

Most of the thinking, writing and counseling on the subject of "careers" seems to have its roots in HR. Employees, on the other hand, are concerned about raises and professional development. The fact that so many recruiting operations focus on career constitutes a failure of imagination and marketing.

We received several notes concerning our coverage of Futurestep this week. They mentioned the notion that Futurestep doesn't position itself as an IT recruiting operation. Does anyone remember the wave of PR that accompanied the grand opening of Futurestep? We're sure that it included a heavy dose of "downstream to IT" but can't find a record of it. It's either creeping senility or a plain old mistake. If you have a recollection of the question, please let us know.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Resume Management

(October 21, 1998) Yesterday, we spent a pleasant afternoon with some of the team at HireSystems. After the obligatory tour of our spacious offices, we got down to business. HireSystems is on to something.

The company competes in the market space occupied by Restrac, Resumix, I-Search, Personic and so on. These companies all attempt to help recruiting operations manage and sift large volumes of incoming resumes. Typically, they focus on search technology and complex categorizations of data. They either emphasize it to the point that an installation requires full time staffing or ignore its importance. More often than not, complexity drives a wedge of customer dis-satisfaction between the company and its users. When complexity isn't the issue, the search engines barely function.

HireSystems takes a different tack. Positioned as a complete outsourced solution, resumes are processed offsite and hosted on hyper-secure (physically bomb proof) web servers. The data itself is extracted through sophisticated scan improvement and pattern recognition technology. Each candidate's information is verified by a human being prior to acceptance in the database. The relational data is simple to access and search because of the attention paid to to the data entry process. Duplicates are removed (and counted!) up front.

Through the clever use of the web as a work distribution tool, the costs of human processing are kept well below anything achievable within a corporate structure. Detailed quality assessments ensure the accuracy and consistency of the human process. The HireSystems approach combines people and technology at the front end of the system. By doing so, the time consuming results of mistakes in data integrity are tackled early where the cost is cheap.

At the next level, the system offers detailed applicant tracking and communication processes. It would be extremely simple to convert the HireSystems offering into a tool that allows long term management of various candidate pools using the tools that come with an installation. The system also offers embedded media response measurement (with resume quality statistics) and summary level reporting.

In a nutshell, HireSystems offers a truly comprehensive solution for the back office components of resume management, applicant tracking, candidate pool management, multi-level status reporting, media performance measurement. It's all wrapped in a simple to use search technology that facilitates recruiting rather than data management.

Conspiracy theorists and crystal ball gazers will be interested to note that the company is owned, in part, by the Washington Post (who is building an extremely interesting empire of candidate acquisition tools).

Simplicity is never developed in a hurry. The most simple pieces of technology require years of patient refinement. What distinguishes HireSystems from the rest of the pack is a solid commitment to deliver simplicity without compromising results. Add a sprinkling of cost-effectiveness and you'll understand how wowed we were.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Press Releases

(October 20, 1998) The promotion of an online service requires a balance between credibility and attention grabbing. Our desktops are a sea of droning Press Releases that repeat the same tired lines. There must be at least 50 services that claim to be the "premier" Internet Recruiting Tool. We've often wondered if all of the imagination in the industry had simply evaporated.

This morning, we received the following press release from Bridgepath, one of our current crop of favorite little enterprises. (You might remember our reviews of their launch party.) The Press Release works for Bridgepath because it simultaneously makes a noteworthy point, promotes their service, offers quantifiable statistics and says something new. We bet that they get more than our attention from this one. Beats, MonsterBoard in Time Not Spent at Web Site

San Francisco, Calif.-October 21, 1998 -- According to a Relevant Knowledge September Web Report released yesterday, users unfortunately spend an average of 34 minutes laboriously searching jobs and resumes on This is far too long.

FACT: The average job seeker spends five minutes a week reading seven e-mail announcements from BridgePath ( about jobs that specifically match his/her interests. "We're proud of the fact that our job seekers receive tailored e-mail job announcements instead of spending 34 minutes weeding through thousands of job postings," said Auren Hoffman, president of BridgePath. "With BridgePath, the jobs find you."

The exhausting task of constantly checking sites (like and searching through thousands of postings is now an antiquated process. BridgePath acts like a "matchmaker," where job seekers enter their personal profiles into BridgePath's Web site ( and are contacted via e-mail when a job opportunity that matches their qualifications arises.


Founded in 1996 and headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., BridgePath ( is one of the nation's leading online recruiting services. Its mission is to increase employment opportunities for job seekers by dedicating itself to several key principles, including: using the most advanced technologies, possessing a deep understanding of client needs and placing employees quickly. The company's focus on these principles allows it to find recruits faster and with greater cost efficiency than conventional recruiting techniques (i.e. headhunters, classified ads and employee referrals).

Nice Job! And, the core question more time on a website better.. bears a close evaluation.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


(October 19, 1998) FutureStep, the Korn-Ferry/WSJ partnership, is best described as an IPO play. While the service breaks new ground on a variety of levels, the marketing engine that drives the operation seems more focused on IPO awareness than customer service. Given K-F's moves towards becoming a public company, this should be no surprise.

Ostensibly, FutureStep is a move by the parent company "downstream" into the exploding Information Technology Recruiting space. This probably explains why, on a recent train ride into Westchester County, NY, we were confronted with a large FutureStep billboard. Positioned for message delivery to the riders on the train, we felt safe in assuming that a look around at our fellow passengers would clue us in to the target demographic. There was no shortage of middle managers, bankers or advertising executives. There were no (zero, zip, nada) obvious IT folks on the train.

While it is not unusual for a company to hide its intentions by targeting a different demographic than its PR indicates, the game is usually played by more sophisticated marketeers than you'd ever expect to be in K-F's stable. As you know, we believe that the simplest explanation is usually the right one. We've formed the opinion that Future Step is a disaster from a marketing perspective. If you were really looking for IT folks, the WSJ is nearly the last place that you's make the play.

You've heard our critique of cumbersome forms based recruiting processes. While we won't bore you with another kicking of that dead horse, the candidate anecdotes are beginning to arrive on our desktop. Without resorting to overkill, we'll say that badly executed direct e-mail can destroy a venture much more rapidly than badly done postal solicitations.

One of the real problems, from our anecdote pile, is that K-F ends up delivering FutureStep to candidates who are also likely customers. This is the fine line that all high level search firms have to walk. Badly conceived e-mail campaigns appear to be costing the parent company in ways that won't hit the bottom line for a couple of years.

A number of the themes in the K-F offering bear a more detailed analysis. Stay tuned.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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