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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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  • Targeted Marketing

    (January 15, 1999) While it isn't perfect, Yahoo's Company Index is the best place to begin targeting clients and candidates. Clearly subdivided into company types, the page covers over 400,000 companies who were clever enough to get listed in the first place.

    Lycos offers free access to the Dun and Bradstreet database of companies. Once you've identified a target in Yahoo, this is a great way to get top level information.

    We mention these two standard resources to illuminate a point. The essential skill in targeted marketing is the same kind of research that makes a Recruiting Operation really hum. While we understand that some HR Departments still believe that "poaching" is unethical, it gets clearer every day that the line between Recruiting from a competitor and "reaching the passive candidate" is blurry at best.

    But, effective research for targeted audiences, whether for advertising purposes or for direct solicitation, requires a very clear picture of Recruiting goals and objectives. If you are the least bit hesitant about what you are trying to accomplish, someone else will beat you to the punch.

    Assuming that your objective is to acquire the best possible talent for your company, the best place to find it is rarely in the group of people who are actively looking for work. The most desirable candidate usually has a job and is reasonably content. Finding those people and creating an environment in which they are comfortable about "switching" is the core of strategic Recruiting.

    In the days before the labor shortage, brute force Recruiting involved a percentage game. Boiler rooms of Recruiters "banged" the phones in search of candidates. HR Departments outsourced this "distasteful" task, preferring to keep their hands clean. These days, when speed is the difference between filling a slot and having it stay empty, the distinctions are not so clear.

    Once you have identified target companies, the next trick is figuring out who you can reach. The web is full of great tools (Black Widow and FlashSite are two starters) that enable a Recruiter to rapidly scan the contents of a target website. Learning to Recruit in this new environment requires a shift in thinking as well as the acquisition of new technical skills.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Customer Satisfaction

    (January 14, 1999) In the early fall, we began disclosing the results of our survey of 2,500 Recruiters. While the bulk of the results are contained in our 1999 Electronic Recruiting Index, we published our rankings of Customer Satisfaction. (If you haven't seen them, download a the Executive requires that you use Adobe Acrobat). As our industry changes and matures, maintaining a focus on Customer Satisfaction is the critical issue.

    The Computer Job Store's ranking in these results is nothing short of remarkable.

    Branding and fancy-shmancy marketing aside, Recruiters ultimately determine the success or failure of the various firms that compete for their dollars. The fact that the Computer Jobs Store could, hands down, outdistance all of the other players in the marketplace is testimony to two factors. First of all, the firm targets candidates by specialty and by geography. That's where the real action is. Secondly, the firm aggressively ensures that customers receive a stream of real results...candidats placed in jobs.

    While interface, technology and branding are important components of building a long term presence, we're sure that customer satisfaction and the resulting word of mouth recommendations are the real key.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


    (January 13, 1999)

    We always enjoy the missives from, Australia's largest online employment operation. They tirelessly produce an email note called JobStuff which is a "groove webzine that covers everything about work - from advice on how to be a more persuasive speaker to tips on re-doing your resume". Subscribe and see how they're doing down under.

    The Web Is A Work Environment
    Video is coming fast. By Christmas, 1999, we expect to see desk top video cameras installed in most newly purchased computer systems. Sony offers a system, called "FunMail" (under $200), that allows desktop creation of video attachments for email. We can easily imagine recruiting operations who prefer sending a "FunMail" kit to airline tickets and lodging for first round interviews.

    In practical terms, this means that Online Recruiters need to learn to think about the web as a work environment rather than an advertising outreach or research tool. It won't be long before the Recruiting desktop includes a video window. That means that the applicant tracking database will need to be configured to handle video objects. That means bigger hard drives, more intranet bandwidth and mower power in the servers.

    Dust off your already tired wallets.

    It's Getting Very Serious
    Today, announced that it has hired a very seasoned high tech company builder as its CEO. Robert Montgomery joins the rapidly growing team to "direct is growth in global operations".

    With it's recent acquisition of operating capital, Computer Jobs Store has added its share of talented business builders. Every time we look, it seems like Hot Jobs has picked up another key industry player. Datamain continues to collect a solid set of technical minds. Restrac is joining the fray with a vengeance. The combined Monster/OCC clan represents a formidable brain trust. (Their approach to workplace design is covered in an interesting FastCompany article). Yahoo! Employment is kicking into overdrive.(They've hired Silicon Valley's most prestigious PR firm to support their growth.) Job Options (formerly Espan) continues to aggressively seek traction.

    It's a season of tremendous growth in our business with lots of management changes and more than 20 companies who have grown their staffs to mid-size company proportions (over 75 employees). It's also a treacherous time. New bright minds don't get added to the mix without fulfilling their desire to leave an impact. Robust companies end up rethinking their core assumptions as they add new players. Mistakes get made.

    Navigating the path to company maturity is tricky. Online Recruiting represents more than 30% of all Internet Advertising sales volume (and, if you include commissions on placements probably equals 25% of all e-commerce revenue). But, the principles that drive our business are unlike retail or simple portal enterprises. Our customers are businesses, our candidates are in and out of the market quite quickly.

    The talent required to really grow a business to the Billion dollar level is missing, in general, from the Recruiting trade. That means the new players all have to learn the nuances of a new industry. Our general advice? Stay focused on the fundamentals. Fatal mistakes come from combining too much innovation and growth at the same time.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    It Happens

    (January 12, 1999) Remember Sumser's law? Each time the online population doubles, the average experience of a user is cut in half. A cynic would say that the net is getting dumber with each passing day (and the rush to buy questionable stock might just support the idea).

    One of the consequences of Sumser's law is that the rate at which obvious mistakes are made is increasing.

    Although no one has really taken the time to describe it, there is a very predictable learning curve associated with using the net in its current form. From browser commands to bookmarking, from learning an email program to understanding the nuances of email, there are a series of hurdles that each new user must conquer. And, along the way, standard mistakes are repeated.

    This morning, we found ourselves on the receiving end of yet another email list error. The owner of the list sent a couple of messages out to the entire group of subscribers by mistake. An unhappy subscriber sent a complaint note which was forwarded out to all of the subscribers. Soon, the mailboxes of all of the list recipients were filling with unsubscribe requests and grumpy notes. So far, we've gotten a couple hundred. Each of the list users assumes that their mail won't be redistributed. The problem is a simple one to fix but, as usual, it happened after business hours so there was no one around to fix it.

    One rather intelligent recipient of these hundreds of grumpy notes wrote:

    Dear everybody!

    Do not respond by using "reply" or "unsubscribe" to these messages - it ends up broadcast to the whole list and do nothing to solve the problem. Rest assured the list manager will fix it as soon as possible and send a humble apology. What you are seeing is a mailing list loop due to a misconfigured mailing list administrator program. It happens sometimes. Break the loop. ***Do not reply***. Play nice, be patient, and it will go away in a few hours.

    Unfortunately, his note was met with a rousing chorus of "Who the f*** do you think you are?" Which prompted yet another round of grumpy mail.

    The lesson? In the days of the old net, when memory was scarce, a lot of these problems were addressed with acronyms. You've certainly seen some of them...LOL means "laughing out loud"...ROTFL means "rolling on the floor laughing"...RTFM means "read the f***ing manual". This problem can be solved by RTFM.

    When you launch new technology (mailing lists, java and so on) make sure that you understand the impact on new users. There are more of them every day and they behave in reasonably predictable ways.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Recruiting Community

    (January 11, 1999) It's the single buzzword that has stuck over time and we, as long term readers will remember, hate it. A carryover from the slowly dissipating self-help movement, the term is used to describe everything from mountains of personal data to mailing lists to chat sessions to aggregated piles of millions of personal home pages. Community.

    In our personal lives, community includes the local merchants, the places we leave the kids in emergencies, the guy we'd like to run over (but help in the floods), the wacky group across the street, family, friends and the kids' friends. Sometimes warm and sometimes prickly, community is that sense of familiarity and security. It's dependable, if not always perfect.

    For years, based on our personal experiences, we've held fast to the notion that community has to have a physical component (or at least the possibility) to really hang together. That's why we are such big fans of MBAFreeAgents, the New York City company that blends online community and routine get togethers. They are, to our knowledge, the only site for job hunters that makes a go of creating a real network.

    Part of the question is fundamentally technical. Since chat sessions and mailing lists do not allow for a method to develop longer term relationships, those tools actually destroy more "community" than they create. The physical component, a regular meeting place or, soon, video, combined with the storage required for documentation purposes are a requirement for real community development. In other words, you can't have "community in a mailbox". Interestingly, while there are several efforts underway, we only know of two successful models on the Recruiting side of the equation. (It's really one that works and one that might.)

    While it isn't publicly visible, the web team at Management Recruiter's International (MRI) are building an extremely interesting blend of an extranet and intranet that allows the development of relationships between recruiters in all 750 company offices. Organized by interest area and supported by the company's longstanding commitment to regional meetings, MRI is really transporting an existing community online. They began with a community and are assembling the required technical pieces of the puzzle. Being a franchise operation makes them more agile in the webbed environment.

    The Recruiter's Network bills itself as "The association for Internet Recruiting". They are in the planning stages of opening regional chapters. The key questions of financial incentive and organizational structure remain unresolved. But, they're headed in the right direction. As a reciprocating network of professional who help each other while mastering the new recruiting environment, we can easily imagine success. All it will take is for the Recruiter's Network to find a couple of talented volunteers.

    Meanwhile, more and more operations are developing mailing lists and chat areas, calling them community and trying to develop advertising billings.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Customized Onsite Consulting

    (Early Winter, 1999) 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.

    Contacting Us
    Call, fax, write, email. We'd love to talk about your project.

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