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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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  • Tidbits

    (February 26, 1999) Egg on our face? Loyal readers will know it's neither the first nor the last time. In our enthusiasm for (the website formerly known as, we blew several key variables in the equation. Dan Frawley is the CEO, Doug Berg is the president. We invented a whole new person called Dave Berg. claims to prohibit headhunters from using their site but seems to make room for companies like Volt and Addecco.

    It's a funny distinction and isn't alone in making it. Somehow, companies who recruit employees are good customers. The third party recruiters who work for those companies are not good customers. We wonder how they deal with firms like Lucent who have set up entire internal temp agencies or folks like Gateway2000 who have outsourced entire subsets of their recruiting business. Is a PEO a headhunter or a customer?

    While we can understand the idea that "there is some business we just don't want", the Recruiting Industry is undergoing far too much change to build a business on outmoded ideas.

    While it makes some sense to develop services that are exclusively used by "headhunters" (whatever that means), it's a one way sort of exclusivity. It is a lot easier to tell who is a "headhunter" than it is to tell who isn't.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Intro To

    (February 25, 1999) It's quiet this time of year in Minneapolis. Unlike the hype driven PR machines in Silicon Valley, New York, Boston and Atlanta, business in the most famous Twin Cities is more like Garrison Keillor than not. But, it is well worth remembering that Minnesota has produced Jesse Ventura, Bob Dylan, the artist formerly known as Prince, Control Data / Honeywell and, of course, the annual ice festival. Frankly, our memories of the region are limited to some dark mornings when the car was frozen to the hotel parking lot. Brrrr.

    There's something about a place where it's permanently smart to stay indoors that produces remarkable things.

    Take a look at (the website formerly known as JobKeys). While a number of similar niche competitors (Computer Jobs Store, DICE) have been wrestling with the consequences of an infusion of money, has been building quietly in the background. With a staff of 125, a powerhouse management team (Harvard MBAs, Microsoft Execs, general smart people and meaningful analysts) and a city by city roll out strategy, the company has cobbled together an interesting business while no one was looking.

    A review of their client lists shows just how important a few companies are to the growth and development of the industry. With over 100 clients in the book (suggesting a business volume of about $1.2M/year), the company has clearly cherry-picked the customer lists of DICE, Net-Temps, RON and so on. While they serve both sides of the recruiting spectrum, it's reasonably clear (and smart) to build from easy to acquire customers into larger accounts.

    So what's the deal? Certainly no one is running around griping about a shortage of places to post jobs. Well, offers a fuller spectrum of Recruitment advertising to its clients. It looks like the initial sell is a typical Job Board pitch. It's the upsell that differentiates techies from the rest of the pack.

    According to Dave Berg, CEO "We much different than most pay-per-job services in that we charge for services more like an agency would. We do have packaged services that range from $3,500 to $56,000 per city we are in, but these dollars go to more than "job postings". We advertise our employers in local TV, Radio, and Print as a part of our incredible advertising campaigns that we run." While other players (HotJobs, for instance) understand that the real equity in our market is relationships, techies is the only company we know of that is built from the bottom up to optimize those human networks. In the case of HotJobs, realizing that HR decision makers have budgets that are much larger than the job posting component has led to the development of a Job Fair business and an internal redefinition (HotJobs is now a "recruiting solutions provider"). Techies began its operations with the idea that job posting services were a door opener.

    The whole concept probably sounds like a minor nuance. The trick, we think, is that the ad agencies (who have the same product offerings) enter this market with high overhead operations. The business model seems to be built bottoms up form job postings. They have the exact opposite overhead problem which gives them an interesting, short term, competitive advantage.

    Keep your eye on them.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Video II

    (February 24, 1999) Last week, we began our experiments with video in earnest. The office looks increasingly like a film studio with a variety of cameras with computers attached to them. We're becoming Sony fans in a deep way. Their digital video products (from desktops to laptops to still cameras to digital video) are designed to work together with a minimum of fuss.

    At the TED9 conference, Sony began to introduce laptops with built in video cameras. Based on the remarkable VAIO series 505 laptops, the machine seems as much like a camera with a computer built around it as anything. The new machine, with its integrated video conferencing and still camera capabilities is priced below the market (about $2,500). By Christmas, we expect to see similar systems (and desktops with integrated video) falling well below the $2,000 mark.

    In reality, all the pieces are in place except bandwidth. That's coming on fast.

    In the normal run of business, there are now three companies competing to bring high speed data to our little town this spring. The local cable company is introducing cable modems. The local phone company is delivering DSL. A phone company with local aspirations is promising a third alternative. The high school kids and local business people will have very high speed connections well before summer.

    But, getting all of the pieces to work together is a frustrating endeavor.

    While we have more complex gear, we are working to understand the problems faced by an operation that uses dialup connections. A very fast machine with lots of video memory, coupled with a Logitech USB port Quick Cam Pro (about $150) produces passable video (although its hard to escape the feeling that you're communicating from the space shuttle). The real problem comes when trying to connect with others.

    Our "development cottage" is a standalone building with lots of electronics and a coffee pot. Work is likely to run into the night. The Dominos delivery guy knows how to find it. We work the kinks out of new things in the cottage.

    For the last week, the common phrases coming from the cottage have been "Hello, Hello, I can see you but I can't hear you. Can you see me, can you hear me?" It's as if everyone who enters the cottage has been thrust into the rock opera Tommy. Except, the repetitiveness is astoundingly frustrating. Each new connection, because both ends of the conversation are novices, requires fine tuning. Making video work right now requires an abundant supply of patience.

    The discoveries? The most important part of contemporary video conferencing seems to be a headset, of all things. Second, maintaining a deep level of quiet is critical. Every noise in the room is transmitted across the modem line. As a result, desktop video is not useful, right now, for real work if you are using a dial up modem. But, the change is coming fast.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Big Fun

    (February 23, 1999) Generally, we've been big fans of the largest pile of Career content to occupy a single place on the web. The Futurestep project, which cuts close to the edge that separates the advertising and editorial departments is problematic but innovative. The deep detailed material, ported over from the National Business Employment Weekly is bound to generate lots of repeat visitors.

    However, we are not in love with their new advertising delivery scheme and hope that their ad customers understand what they are buying. On our most recent visit to the site, each link we clicked on generated a new window with a tiny banner in it. Sometimes two. Rather than being able to peruse the material on the site, the bombardment of ads (and it was like a heavy rain) prevented us from reading the material. The message was clear...make a click and you'll get an ad.

    While we are hardly in a position to criticize an outfit that wants to sell lots of advertising, it has its place...adjacent to the content and available if a reader wants more. This new WSJ tactic makes it impossible to read the material. While the advertisers (who seem to be limited to JobOptions and the operation that charges insecure executives a lot of money to have copies of their resume bulk mailed) are probably getting a lot of clicks right now, we hope they understand what they are getting.

    In this style of advertising bombardment, someone who clicks on an ad is trying to avoid getting hit with another one. They arrive at their next destination frustrated because they were not able to get what they were looking for at the last one. That negative energy spills over on to the destination site and colors the reader's perception.

    It's a shame that greed of this magnitude is destroying what had the potential to be a great site.

    Follow up note:
    We tried the site on a variety of machines just to be sure that something wasn't misconfigured making our computers the source of the problem. This new advertising tactic is clearly intentional. Too bad its so poorly conceived. Other sites are delivering "instant ads" in separate windows. But, they manage to control the annoyance level by sizing the windows to the ads.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Juicy Tidbits

    (February 22, 1999) A great source of developers who have Microsoft certification? The Microsoft Certified Providers contact page. Overall, Microsoft sets an extraordinary example for "doing recruiting right."

    Free Resumes? Try CareerExpress with one little caveat. The free resumes on this site are from people who paid top have them distributed on the web. That's a guarantee that the potential candidates are either dumb, unsophisticated, really desperate or very new to the web.

    Reverse lookups always come in handy in our offices. Those little scraps of paper with phone numbers on them can occasionally be converted back into contact information. Simply enter the phone number and .... Presto!... out comes contact info. These three are the current best:

    • 411locate
    • Anywho
    • Infospace

      CareerCentral continues to deliver a remarkable bargain for Recruiters. Their satisfaction guarantee, low price point and commitment to deliver candidates in a specific time period makes them an attractive bargain for any Recruiter. Over the long haul, they may be cheaper than establishing your own sourcing department.

      Take a look at Lockheed's Internal Job Posting site. Powered by CareerCast technology, the site collects jobs from all of the 50 companies under the Lockheed umbrella. It's a fascinating use of the same kind of technology pioneered by Junglee (now Restrac). The CareerCast team is building an enviable track record and focusing on the fundamentals.

      Are standards coming our way? We watched, with some amusement, as a recent attempt to start an XML discussion list fizzled. The problem is that there is no compelling incentive for anyone to adhere to standards. The players in the conversation could agree on the most fundamental questions. The question is beginning to look like "Does the absence of a standard in XML create a market opportunity for a new entrant?"

      - 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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