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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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  • Turning Information Back Into Data

    (November 20, 1998)Earlier this week, Excite announced the integration of a service called "Jango" into their career operation. Jango, like Junglee before it, gathers job postings from corporate sites for distribution into a variety of career sites.

    Yesterday, Restrac (the crown prince of old school clunky enterprise systems) bought Junglee's Recruitment Advertising Distribution business from Combined with WebHire (Restrac's sourcing and resume management system) the deal cements Restrac's opportunity to move from the old school to the new.

    Meanwhile, CareerCast, the scrappy, technology-centric career hub is simultaneously using the Junglee/Jango approach to integrate the job offerings within a very large conglomerate into a single public site. The project is a component of their plan to enter the market with Junglee and Jango.

    The implications are quite interesting.

    From time to time, we've mentioned the emergence of XML (remember our story about HRML?). As the next year unfolds, the process of posting jobs to various websites will get increasingly easy. (It is interesting to note that the companies serving third party recruiters have yet to enter this market phase!) "Robots", in the form of interrogations from advertising distributors, will "come" to your company's job postings and carry them to the places you want them posted. All of the relevant information will be contained in the posting.

    As the process takes root, ownership of the industry will shift to the companies that provide this service.

    In the early stages of the "horse race", three distinct models are emerging. Excite, we think, has the native advantage because they are more closely tied to audiences (and that's where real results are). Restrac, however, has emerged as a significant player with clear access to customer pocketbooks. CareerCast remains a dark-horse who could chart the actual technical future.

    For Recruiters, the question is going to be figuring out how to make their staffing information standout in a sea of information that is about to become a Tsunami of data. With postings flowing easily, volume will increase, results will decline and end users (job hunters) will get swamped. Ultimately, these moves will do nothing but amplify the importance of laser precision in the targeting of advertising delivery.

    In the short to medium term, the playing field is shifting.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


    (November 19, 1998) Yesterday, we mentioned that some of the companies that provide training in the use of the Net as a sourcing tool have branched out into what they call "retention". Now that they've taught thousands of recruiters to scavenge for names, they plan to sell techniques that help companies hide those same names. We always love mercenary businesses that create a conflict and sell to both sides. It's fun to watch them go under.

    The really great thing about the model is that once they've sold enough companies the "hide your employees" package, they can go back to their original customers and sell a "here's where we told them to hide" package. It's the ultimate perpetual motion cash flow machine.

    The second best scam in the niche is the "we'll get you to the top of the search engines lists" scheme. Since search engines perpetually change the rules, these training companies get to build "subscription" relationships. And, the next client always creates the need for refresher courses for the last client. Another perpetual motion cash flow machine.

    We know a fellow who calls these sorts of businesses "self-licking ice cream cones".

    The sad news is that both approaches take advantage of Recruiters who, stung by a technology that steals their low-hanging fruit, are desperate for quick fixes. Essentially, they teach ever faster methods for accomplishing the wrong things. Imagine, if you will, an educational process that trained fully certified blacksmiths in half of the time in 1920. The good news would be that the students spent less time in school. The bad news...they'd graduate into a world that didn't need the skills.

    There is a very important distinction between efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency is the discipline of doing things faster and cheaper. Effectiveness is doing the right things. Efficiency leads to business failure because it tends to focus on repeating the mistakes of the past. Effectiveness focuses on the act of discovering the larger problem.

    To integrate the Internet into a recruiting practice, you have to ask the question "what is effective recruiting in today's marketplace?" The answer involves a hard look at labor supplies and relationship development. Recruiting that involves long term value based relationships doesn't require a cat and mouse approach.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    No Magic Bullets

    (November 18, 1998) There are several, hard to reconcile, approaches to the integration of the Internet into a Recruiting practice.

    The Web, as it grows and matures, offers an expanding series of tools that allow a Recruiter to exploit "marginal" opportunities. The high profile success stories are always about these opportunities. Unfortunately, the successes are short lived. The "marginal" opportunities depend on "being there first". They work better for very early adopters than they do for the later. Examples include job posting, advanced search techniques, broadcast email and so on. Each "marginal" approach involves an innovative use of technology to solve an old problem. As such, these techniques get high and quick visibility.

    Then, there is the application of the Internet to Internal Synergy problems. Every office, no matter how large or small, has communication problems that can be readily addressed by opening the company's information flow. Usually implemented as an Intranet, the objective is to solve another age-old's predictable that the right candidate ends up on the wrong desk. In theory, an effectively designed Intranet helps harness these misplaced resources.

    Neither approach solves the longer term problem...building a reliable supply of potential candidates. This is the real Electronic Recruiting question. In order to build relationships with enough potential candidates to ensure (say) 5 years of recruiting success, an operation needs to invest in the candidates themselves. Long term relationships must be built. There are few really sound examples of the approach, but we suggest that you take a very close look at MBA Free Agents. (There's a related story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal)

    At MBA Free Agents, the database is, well, fleshy. Half of the deal is the regular face to face get togethers. The other half is the company's ability to market a network of professionals in a niche. With patient building, the company is able to deliver a solid stream of candidates to its customers. The transactions are "webified", the recruiting is part internet and part cocktail party.

    While it's certainly true that the network can be facilitated using the net and its growth can be accelerated with online advertising and searching, the real value lies in customer relationships and network management.

    Companies that focus on the use of advertising and search tactics will be able to solve old-style sourcing problems. At least they'll be able to do this until everyone else catches on to the techniques (several search tactics training companies are now offering retention programs for companies who have been "raided" with the techniques they teach in other classes). You might remember that early automobiles clearly resembled the horse drawn carriages that they replaced. None of the carriage makers turned auto manufacturers survived. A different assembly technique and radically different design won that market war.

    The future of Recruiting belongs to companies willing to manage their part of the labor supply. You can't get there by learning the bits and pieces. It takes an integrated view of the problem before the attempt to solve it.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


    (November 17, 1998) We spent another delightful afternoon with the folks from Hiresystems. The company, which is a part of the Washington Post's full court press into our industry, provides resume management and searching services.

    The problem with most of the competitors in the marketplace is that the hands on implementation of a Resume Management tool requires detailed attention to data entry, scanning processes and information flow. Recruiting departments are often not very effective in organizing the core material. As a result, most resume management systems never tackle the problem of actually getting the data into the database. That's a customer responsibility.

    The Hiresystems solution focuses on getting the grunge work done. They've assembled an interesting decentralized team of home based data entry and cleaning professionals who work to exacting standards. Yesterday's conversation gave us a glimpse at the data entry interface and the quality checking process.

    Given that HireSystems takes responsibility for the whole resume management process, it's not surprising that their sales are up and prospective customers are drooling at the prospect. Like many things, attention to the grungy details is working as a market discriminator. If you handle extremely high volumes of resumes in your internal processes, check them out.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Defining The Problem

    (November 16, 1998) We got word that will be distributing a "co-branded" version of Wanted Jobs 98. Wanted Jobs is one of those mega-search tools applied to the various job boards. The user sets up search criteria and the "agent" runs around gathering relevant content (in this case "job postings"). The underlying scheme, we're sure, involves delivering targeted advertising to bulk job hunters.

    It sounds like a really smart idea with one teensy-weensy little exception. Job Hunters get in and out of the market so fast these days that they barely have time to remember how to write a resume. While targeted delivery of advertising is the right idea, we wonder how many users are going to be happy to discover thousands of opportunities. Targeted delivery is probably better understood to mean delivering the "right" opportunity out of the thousands that are available. Wanted Jobs doesn't do that. It's a really hard thing to do!

    If anyone is going to figure out targeted delivery, it's Warren Bare. This particular adventure just isn't the one. The real solution involves information extraction, comparative analysis and complex processing across industries. We'll get there alright, just not this time.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    New: Customized Onsite Consulting

    (November 09, 1998) Over the past four years we have had a large number of requests for Onsite Consulting. We are continually looking for new and improved ways to help with your Recruiting needs. We are now offering personal one-on-one Consulting in "Advanced Searching Techniques".

    We've recently added Nicky Gordon to our staff. Nicky is a seasoned recruiting research professional and an acclaimed trainer. She will be delivering these customized training programs in which:

    • We will explain how to make a clean move to web recruiting as the principal source of your income.
    • You will receive the tools needed to search the Internet effectively including A CD with over 30 Software Tools to get you started.
    • You get the full benefit of our "Advanced Searching And Sourcing Seminar" without having to leave the office.
    • You gain the knowledge needed to use Spiders and Robots, advanced Search Engine Techniques, Candidate Pool Access and the development of Just-In-Time Sourcing techniques. We'll teach you the skills and tools used by visionary recruiters.
    • You will get a detailed course of action; we will walk you through the steps involved in going from Job Order to Placement.
    • All Examples are done Online specifically tailored for your operation.
    Book your On-site consulting today. The fee for each One-Day Onsite Consulting is $2,500 plus Expenses. We are offering a discount to previous Seminar Attendees, our way of saying Thank You for your continued business. We would like to help set the techniques you've learned into action. Please contact us for more information.

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