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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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Materials written
by John Sumser
© TwoColorHat.
All Rights Reserved.

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  • Focus On The Candidate, Not The Job

    (November 05, 1998) Occasionally, we slip into MBA-speak and utter the word "paradigm". We are generally trying to explain that old assumptions do not always apply in the new business environment. We immediately apologize and fumble for an alternative.

    It's hard to explain how different the world looks when you shift your focus. What seems subtle or obvious at first become the foundations of a whole new way of seeing things. Things change when you change the way you look at them.

    In 21st Century Recruiting, the candidate is everything.

    Like most businesses that have flocked to the web, Recruiters and Recruitment Advertisers have begun the process by moving their existing ideas to the web. What they have discovered is an increasingly savvy candidate whose demographics are in flux over time. The labor shortage simply accelerates the requirement for tailored solutions.

    In the good old days, Recruiters competed for talent on the basis of size, neighborhood and connection with decision makers. In the coming weeks and months, the focus will inevitably shift to candidate pooling and candidate retention. Businesses that focus on the candidate life cycle will flourish while those that focus on the job opportunity will flail about.

    Candidate retention is not the same as employee retention. The two are related, but candidate retention involves maintaining relationships while the candidate works elsewhere. Armed with the right data warehousing tools and the continual delivery of value to a candidate throughout their career, Recruiters who personalize and focus on the candidate are the ones to watch.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    The Learning Curve

    (November 05, 1998) Make no mistake about it. Learning to use the Internet as a Recruiting tool is neither inexpensive nor pain-free. While the rule book has hardly been compiled, there are several obvious pitfalls.

    While Recruiters, as a class, are effective personal communicators, many can not write to save their souls. They rely on a stock of boiler plate and form letters. Generally, a recruiter is skilled at written communication to the precise extent that she is not gifted with the phone. Most recruiters are very bad writers.

    Unfortunately, the Internet is a medium that emphasizes written communication.

    Once you are fully functional online, the volume of negative mail is fairly impressive. Getting used to receiving 50 to 500 pieces of negative mail each day requires an emotional adjustment. No one tells you about this difficult part of online recruiting. It is not unusual to see companies make serious mistakes when first confronted with this normal aspect of the online marketplace.

    Bad writing compounds the problem.

    Here are a couple of pointers. While this list isn't comprehensive, it points in the right direction.

    • Manage candidate expectations up front. Never encourage them to sign up for a service based on the "hope that they'll get a placement". This dynamic creates the frustrations that turn into negative mail. Make the exchange (deliver value in return for credentials) complete in the first step.
    • Never communicate with successful and unsuccessful candidates in the same piece of correspondence. That simply increases the frustration of the unsuccessful group. The whole point of having a database is that you can avoid this problem.
    • Avoid, at all costs, the use of the word "you". Wielded effectively, the word oozes intimacy and can cement deals. But, few writers can avoid slipping into the use of the word as a formal, plural form of address. In a direct marketing piece, any hint that the communication is targeted at a class (ie. 'some of you') destroys the effectiveness of the entire message. The web is a vehicle for intimate communication. Like most intimate relationships, any hint of objectification can destroy progress.
    • Email is not a good tool for form letters. There are many tools available to help tailor bulk communications.
    • Question your assumptions when communicating with online candidates. We routinely see mail that opens with phrases like:
      We felt it was worthwhile to use this e-mail to more fully explain our service rather than provide our bi-weekly career management content.
      You have to wonder if any of the readers of a sentence like that understand it at all. (What, exactly, is "bi-weekly career management content"?) Assume that your readers have absolutely no idea who you are and what you are talking about even if they have submitted something to your website.
    Really, the services of a professional writer are a very useful part of getting online. Many ad agencies are beginning to offer copy editing and creation services. A key component of effective online Recruiting is the written word. Understand that bad writing may have a more negative effect on your efforts than bad phone manners. We know that you'd never tolerate a recruiter with bad phone manners.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Maximizing Search Engines

    (November 04, 1998) Do you know that the major search engines do not show anything stored in a database? AltaVista, HotBot, NorthernLight and the other massive search engines simply don't have the capability to "look into" a database. This means that jobs that are posted to one of the Job Boards (or to your internal database) will simply never show up in a search engine.

    At the same time, most (70%) web users begin their hunt for information on a search engine. Our current system (lots of jobs in huge databases) requires users to find a "job board" and then do their employment search. In other industries, this is called a distribution bottleneck.

    A small company,, has proposed an interesting small solution. For $10/job, they will make a search engine friendly version of your job listing. While an interesting first step, the best possible position is to have all of your job listings searchable on your site.

    Assuming that you have a database of job openings associated with your site, you should find a way to have "hard copies" of the job listings. Submit the URLs to the search engines on a regular basis. It's one of the best things that you could do to increase candidate flow.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


    (November 03, 1998) Few people have driven the acceptance of the Internet as a Recruiting tool with Bill Vick's passion. Bill, the founder, CEO and driving force of the Recruiter's Online Network (RON), has consistently driven the state of the art. Each year, RON introduces thousands of third party Recruiters to the Internet.

    RON offers job postings, a resume database and broad distribution along with a sea of useful tools for Recruiting Offices. At $495 per year, the basic membership is an ideal starting point for small shops finding their way around the online world.

    Most electronic recruiting sales operations (the job boards in particular) build their businesses by "cherry-picking" existing customers from each other. RON focuses almost exclusively on the third party organization that is just beginning to use Internet tools. As a result, RON tends to generate a great deal of marketing material that simultaneously educates and sells. They understand that as the web doubles in population, the mean user experience drops by 50%.

    For Instance:

    Don't book the trip to Disney World yet. Internet job posting is an investment that will yield great dividends for you. However, it does not work overnight. As with so many things in this life, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. This is one reason that we require trial members to post 5 jobs right off the bat. We want to put time on your side.

    Many RON members generate 10-35% of their gross annual billings by posting jobs at RON. What are the secrets of successful internet recruiters?

    • They Post Everything:Candidates can't find it if it isn't there! The objective is to create an inflow of responses to specific positions. Then, network from these candidates to make your placements.

    • They Sell Their Jobs:Take time to write a good job post. Is the title informative? Would you want this job?

    You should not expect to make a placement the first week -or even necessarily the first 3 months. Over time, as the number of jobs you post increases, so too does the "job net" that RON casts for you. RON's low cost makes it easy for you to afford to stay in the game while you're "ramping-up" your online recruiting efforts.

    Marketing copy that sells while managing expectations and educating the end user is central to the growth of the industry. We continue to wonder why there is no operation like RON for Recruiters in HR.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


    (November 02, 1998) Things are really cooking here at IBN. We've just shipped our October print newsletter (requires Acrobat). If you are not on our mailing list, you might want to sign up to ensure that you get the material. Recovery from the Fall Seminars has been brief. We'll be in Philly this week for the annual HR Information Systems trade show.

    If you can't see the presentation in Philly, we've placed copies on the website. This fall, we're delivering two stock presentations:

  • Basic Recruiting
  • Basic Strategy

    You may need to download a Powerpoint Player to see them (It depends on how or if you installed Microsoft Office.)

    Read this article: Top IT Secrets outlines the issues that form Wal-Mart's case against (the suit covers Amazon's recruiting efforts). The implications are broad.

    According to the rumor mill, both Hot Jobs and the Monster Board are planning to use spots during the SuperBowl to promote their brands. The cost of acquiring candidates just took another major leap.

    Today marks the launch of Yahoo's Employment Arena (everyone's gotta have one).

    Expanding on Yahoo! Classifieds' extensive nationwide database of job listings, Yahoo! Employment adds employment news and feature articles, in-depth industry and company profiles, areas for the college graduate and aspiring entrepreneurs, salary and benefit information, relocation resources, networking forums, and links to businesses and career-related Web sites.

    The site provides users with access to the most extensive job database on the Web with more than 360,000 listings and 15,000 companies aggregated from industry leaders including CareerBuilder's Network, Career Mosaic, DICE,, Hot Jobs, The Monster Board, Net-Temps, and Virtual Job Fair.

    From a Recruiter's perspective, it's good to know that jobs posted on other major sites are also shipped to Yahoo. What's more useful are the brief industry overviews (good for a quick orientation); salary surveys and trends (from the Wall Street Journal); company profiles (often containing key contact info); and, a section on High Tech Careers (from Virtual Job Fair).

    Though the site is exclusively focused on the needs of the active job hunter, there are tons of useful tools for Recruiter's who are taking a more proactive approach.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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