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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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  • Hot Jobs

    (January 08, 1999) They don't serve third party recruiters and we'll never understand why. They didn't get their "elephant absorbs a careerist" commercial on the superbowl. Their model, which emphasizes measurable reliability for customers prevents them from aggressively scooping up the customers who are bailing out of the newly merged "Monster". (The news on the street is bad enough that we're expecting an "Original Formula OCC" (remember Coke?) any day now.)

    But, HotJobs has the ablest technical staff of anyone in the business. At the core, HotJobs routinely punches out the technical fundamentals better than anyone in the game. Their team constantly rethinks the online recruiting process and adds features that separate them from the rest of the pack and raise the competitive bar.

    There are two new tools on the site which are bound to become staples in the Electronic Recruiting Arsenal: embedded customized testing and lexicon based data extraction.

    The easiest to explain is the testing tool. With each job posting on Hot Jobs comes the opportunity to add screening questions. The test responses can be weighted and resumes that don't meet the criteria are not forwarded to the customer. It's a great way to weed out the fluff in postings that receive high volume responses. We expect to see recruiters get very good at designing screening questions. The feature will spread quickly.

    Less easy to describe (and probably more valuable) is the lexicon based extraction process. Essentially, the HotJobs database parses resumes and extracts data about a candidate. The process is quick and the feedback is delivered to the candidate immediately after resume submittal. By creating a mechanism that encourages candidates to enter refined and validated data, HotJobs provides a subtle quality guarantee. The extraction process is optional (a candidate can simply cut and paste a resume). Last summer, HotJobs quietly installed this feature on the candidate side of the equation.

    Positioning the extraction tool, which any competitor who attempts to duplicate the feat will have to do, is another thing. We think that extraction is a valuable form of feedback for a candidate and immensely useful for customers. Framed as "this is what our simulated recruiter sees in your resume", extraction is the beginning of an automated feedback tool (are you listening Futurestep?). For a Recruiter, the benefit is a loose sort of standardization.

    The feature is a starting point for much more intelligent matching, relationship building based on testing feedback and more consistent quality in the output of Online Recruiting Systems.

    It's clear that HotJobs is listening hard to its customers.

    And, they are still going to do a SuperBowl ad!

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Striking a Nerve and Standards

    (January 07, 1999) Yesterday's article on the changes at Monsterboard/OCC brought a flood of email. The following comment was typical:
    the new addition of Monsterboard (to OCC) brought a doubling of employers/user subscription prices and an attitude of "you really need us because we're the biggest and best" (at least from one sales rep from the company whom I talked with just before the change. Smug attitude doesn't win customer use or loyalty. You'd think they were Microsoft!

    So far (as of 1-6-99), we've received 42 pieces of email from frustrated customers who are venting their concerns (we sometimes function as the industry's complaint desk!). Generally, we reckon that for every complaint we receive, there are 150 (at least) who didn't complain to us. That's a lot of customers in play.

    Stephen L. Talbott publishes a regular email newsletter called Net Future. If you are interested in the larger implications of technology, Net Future is a solid counterpoint to the vast sea of pro-tech hype the swamps the web. Thoughtful and extremely intellectual, Net Future provides an alternative voice.

    This month's central article (which we've added to our archives) tackles the question of standards. As 1999 progresses, we expect to see a strong push to standardize data in the Internet Recruiting arena. Between vendor initiatives (XML, HRML, Junglee-type plays) and customer desires (buried in administrivia) there will be a number of efforts to bring predictability to the information we trade online.

    It is not clear that standards are a good idea.

    Talbott's article, though not written for Recruiters, will give you a perspective on the question that you won't get from the voices pushing for standards.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    It's Monstrous

    (January 06, 1999) The newly integrated TMP website ( was available online yesterday. OCC customers clicking into their established links are greeted with a screen that takes them into their new service. The message says:
    The Online Career Center (OCC) and its sister site, The Monster Board®, have joined efforts to test a series of new career management and job search technology tools.

    OCC users will notice a different look to the site. The changes provide users with access to online career experts, interactive quizzes, resume samples, career books, an active community of like-minded professionals and 175,000 job opportunities! For your convenience, user names, passwords and stored information will remain the same.

    For your convenience.

    Somehow, the message doesn't convey much about customer convenience.

    Streamlined and easy to navigate, the new and improved Monster will undoubtedly receive solid reviews as an example of functional web design. The interface is simplified and close to losing the edginess that the monster motif used to give it. The homey funkiness of the old OCC interface is gone completely.

    We like TMPs moves towards vertical markets. Jobs and advice are clustered around interest areas like IT, Executives, Mid Career, HR and other specialties. It simply feels breezier and easier to use.

    There's a lesson here, however. It is clear from the OCC message that the needs of existing customers were not factored into the process. As you know, an interface change creates cost and learning curve problems in the daily lives of people who depend on the service. The decision to modify a web interface must account for the impact on existing customers. Once they are put in the position of having to learn to use a new tool, they may as well learn a competitor's system. Design projects that don't factor in the requirements for continuity, while winning awards, are liable to lose revenue.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


    (January 05, 1999) We are huge fans of Peter Yessne's Staffing Industry Report. If you want an insider's perspective on the comings and goings in Third Party Recruiting, this is where you go. Yessne tirelessly covers the trends, changes, acquisitions and events of note. The website, which is really a series of ads for their paper products, includes a nicely done set of monthly reviews of online recruiting. The real meat of the operation, however, is their paper newsletter. Get a subscription..

    In general, the third party segment is still looking over its shoulder at the net.

    With deep rationalization, the over arching sentiment boils down to: "The Net will never replace recruiters because the net can not provide the chemistry of a good fit between a company and a candidate." Even though nearly 40% of the industry has come online, most Recruiting usage makes this assumption.

    Like booksellers who refuse to believe that books can be purchased without being thumbed and stockbrokers who swear that clients are incapable of doing their own research, Recruiters who persist in believing that the net will not replace them are in for a rough ride.

    It's not that the argument is wrong, by the way. It's that "chemistry" is not an equal factor in all placements. By refusing to integrate a new tool using chemistry as a justification, recruiters narrow their businesses to those placements that require an ingredient of personal chemistry. Just as all books won't be purchased online and all stock trades won't happen on the net, not all recruiting will be replaced by the web. But, what remains is lower margin, higher cost work.

    What the web does best is pick the low hanging fruit.

    The consequence, for Recruiters who drag their feet, is declining transaction volume and higher costs per transaction.

    - 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.

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