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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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  • Internet Recruiting Strategy

    (December 17, 1998) There's no shortage of mumbo-jumbo on the question of strategy. The seemingly chaotic marketplace produces consultants, pundits and wild-eyed entrepreneurs at an astonishing rate. Strategic advice is most often given by people who have never run a website, placed an ad, struggled through volumes of conflicting responses, built traffic, written press releases, managed cash flow, built a web page, or depended on recruiting results in their business operations.

    We are always tickled by the current crop of consulting ads on CNN. The video shows kids playing in a schoolyard at recess. The voice over goes something like "Aren't they cute. So young, so innocent. We're talking about your consultants, not your children." Unfortunately, for the most part, those who can do; those who can't teach; and, those who can't teach consult.

    Early on, fascinated by the consequences of management and wanting to have meaningful influence, we solicited the advice of a sage professor. "What does it take to become a management consultant?", we asked. "Six years of school and twenty years of hands-on management experience", he replied. Having followed his direction, we've concluded that he was completely on-target. A critical component of really good consulting is helping clients avoid the mistakes that everyone else makes. Only deep, long term experience makes this possible. The development of a sound strategy depends on knowing where the predictable risks are.

    On some levels, Internet Recruiting strategy is very straightforward. The key questions are:

    1. How many people (and at what rate) are you trying to hire (or place) over the next five years?
    2. What kinds of people are they (What are the requirements for experience and credentials and, importantly, how are the base requirements likely to change)?
    3. What are the major sources of each class of recruits (universities, regions, companies, professional associations)?
    4. What is the forecast supply for each class of candidates (How intense will the competition be)?
    5. As a group (for each class), what are the demographics (age, income etc)?
    6. What is your budget?
    7. What are the factors that influence your budget?
    8. What are the consequences of failure (how important are your goals)?
    Unsaid, but important, is the fact that an Internet Recruiting Strategy is a subset of a comprehensive approach to your Recruiting problem. It is only useful to consider the net as an alternative once the total problem is defined. The net is one of an arsenal of tools rather than an end in itself. Long term usage of online recruiting should be seen as a part of the answer to the question "Which method provides the most cost effective results?"

    As is usually the case, asking the questions is a ton easier than answering them. A Recruiting strategy that doesn't account for a five year horizon (knowing that it is infinitely subject to change) is a recipe for bad decisions. The successful implementation of the strategy depends on achieving cost efficiencies over time rooted in labor market conditions.

    With this core information in hand, the next step involves market and advertising research. We'll get to that in an upcoming column.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Customized Onsite Consulting

    (Early Winter, 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. Nicki is a seasoned recruiting research professional and an acclaimed trainer with extensive hands-on experience solving sourcing problems with the Internet. 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 prospective candidates
    • 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.

    Going Downmarket with Digital Work

    (December 16, 1998) Up to this point in the development of Online Recruiting, the market has been focused on companies who employ or retain a recruiting staff. While CareerBuilder clearly began the downmarket move with its alliance with the ADP sales force, the vast majority of American firms have had no meaningful access to the net as a recruiting tool.

    In operations with less than 100 employees, there is often no observable single customer for Electronic Recruiting services. While this segment contains the vast majority (80%?) of American businesses, the HR Department is usually staffed by a part time payroll assistant to the head bookkeeper. There is little time to master the vagaries and complexities of the Recruiting Marketplace. Advertising agencies have little chance of building a real business from these tiny accounts. Key placements are occasionally handled by a recruiter who is known from the golf course or the local Rotary club.

    Offline, the HR needs of these companies are served by companies like ADP (for data processing) or CareerTrack (for supervisory and skills training). No one, as yet, has delivered a well priced, full service Internet Recruiting product into this end of the marketplace. It's a tough segment with constrained resources and limited time for learning the nuances.

    Although their execution contains some rough edges, DigitalWork is attempting to change all of that. By combining a range of online tools for small businesses into a single integrated package, the service offers a form of one-stop shopping for small companies. The services include website traffic builders, press release development and distribution (key for small websites), printing services, a membership network, long distance services, couriers, news monitoring, software updates, sales builders and online recruiting tools (an interface to RecruitUSA). It's kind of like an Office Depot for Internet Services targeted at the Office Depot customer.

    It's a great idea that takes our long standing admonition to serve the whole customer to new heights. For small buyers, each of the bundled services represent a branded selection from an overwhelming array of possibility. Individual customers may not get the optimal solution for any particular problem (RecruitUSA limits its offerings to large broadcast job boards), but (and its a big but) shopping convenience is optimized in favor of the customer.

    An obvious next step in the DigitalWork interface will be the tracking of orders and recruiting efforts so that the "gateway" becomes a more completely useful tool. We imagine an integrates suite of reporting and tracking tools. (If DigitalWork doesn't provide this sort of management, the category killer will!). The idea is good enough that you should expect to see others join the fun.

    Many small firms will solve their recruiting problems by utilizing services like DigitalWork. They will gain their sales momentum by aggregating services so that the customer's learning curve ceases to be the sales issue.

    Take the time and register. You may want to find a way to become a partner or offer a service through this timely and brilliant innovator's winning new entrant.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    The Post

    (December 15, 1998) You can now earn a degree from an online law school. Concord University is a division of Kaplan Educational Centers which are, in turn, a subsidiary of the Washington Post. The post has been a very consistent, relatively low profile, player in the transformation of recruiting that is part and parcel of the web era.

    An early funder of Junglee and the muscle behind HireSystems, the Post appears to be weaving an extremely cohesive strategy that just barely skirts a move into full fledged recruiting. Like a stealthy ninja, the core strategy locks down relationships with candidates and potential candidates early in the life cycle. In this way, the post continues to derive revenue from its core customers without tripping across the line directly into recruiting. They stretch the definition of advertising delivery to its extreme with value added products for candidates and customers alike.

    According to their websites:

    The Washington Post Company is a diversified media organization whose principal operations include newspaper and magazine publishing, broadcasting, and cable television systems. The company also produces electronic information services, provides test preparation, education, and career services, and offers online information covering federal and state legislative and regulatory activity.
    Kaplan's Career Services division, which will produce more than 300 career forums this year, serving 6,000 companies and more than 150,000 candidates. The division includes CareerExpo, The Lendman Group, HireSystems and Crimson & Brown Associates. The Lendman Group, widely recognized throughout the country for originating the career fair concept, serves corporate clients seeking highly sought-after technical personnel and sales and marketing professionals. HireSystems uses cutting-edge intranet technology to help companies, on an outsourced basis, develop relational databases to manage, track and distribute their own resumes and job openings. Crimson & Brown Associates is the nation's leading diversity recruiting and publishing company, helping companies identify, interview and hire talented minorities as well as international and women MBAs from top-tier colleges and universities.
    Over the long haul, Recruiting in a time of labor shortage will depend on long term relationships with candidates. There is no better example of this approach, in its formative phases, than the Post's integrated suite of companies. Were we running a large candidate tracking software company or a complex Recruiting concern, we'd benchmark ourselves against the Post's visionary endeavors.

    The Post's approach deserves a much longer evaluation. Try to explain the fact that they own the first online law school. The intelligence behind this move points towards the future of our industry.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


    (December 14, 1998) This Christmas, kids in America are being buried in gifts. The sheer number of adults in the population continues to grow faster than the number of children. The ratio of gift givers to gift getters is skewing towards the gift givers. It's another face of the generational labor shortage.

    According to a soon to be published study called "The Emerging Mind", gift generated stimulation hurts learning by decreasing concentration. The stimulation from gifts actually causes chemical changes in the brain that creates a viscous cycle. Stimulation causes a requirement for more stimulation.

    The theory goes on to suggest that kids on the receiving end of the overabundant gifts will begin to measure their intrinsic self-worth in terms of the amount of money that is spent on them.

    Whether or not you buy this scrooge-ish view of the holidays, it underlines an important fact. Not only are workforce demographics in flux, the newly minted worker has a radically differing experience of childhood, adults and the underlying reasons for work. Workers are becoming scarcer and different.

    The requirements for increasing doses of stimulation is an argument for using the web as a recruiting tool. Shorter attention spans imply higher response rates for quick, focused pitches delivered in the blink of an eye. It's a web-ready generation.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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