interbiznet: The Recruiting News

The Recruiting News

Please Click On Our Sponsors

Please Click On Our Sponsors

Recruiting News for the Human Resource Professional

Please Click On Our Sponsors

Please Click On Our Sponsors

Please Click On Our Sponsors

Please Click On Our Sponsors




Click On Our Sponsors

Click On Our Sponsors







Find out more
About IBN

Got a news tip?
Jean Collins

Our Rate Card



Trends Reports



(Over 60)

Company Job Listings
(Over 4000)

Email to IBN


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

© 2013 interbiznet.
All Rights Reserved.

Materials written
by John Sumser
© TwoColorHat.
All Rights Reserved.

Go Home

Click On Our Sponsors

Daily News. Archived Weekly. Click Here For The Current Issue.

The Electronic Recruiting News is a Free Daily Newsletter For Recruiters, HR Managers, Advertising Agencies and Clasified Advertising Operations

  • (New Offer) Prepublication Offer for the 2002 Electronic Recruiting Index. Order Today!
  • 2002 ERI ATS Buyers' Survey Executive Summary (requires Acrobat),
  • Read the interbiznet Bugler or sign-up now and have it delivered to your mailbox.
  • Interested in Advertising? Contact Us
  • Endgame?

    (March 05, 1999) HotWired reports that Peoplesoft has a plan to harvest its massive employee databases. With over 30 Million employee records in its hands and lots of pressure to make a web play, the company is positioned to make a significant move on the targeted delivery of niche information.
    "Those 30 million people buy an incredible amount of goods and services for their companies," said Ray Gadbois, vice president of marketing for the soon-to-be-launched PeopleSoft Business Network.

    The company plans to use its data to create a huge network of Internet sites organized by job function, where employees can buy almost everything they need.

    Purchasing managers who use PeopleSoft to keep track of supply-cabinet inventories, for example, might get pitches from the online arm of Staples. PeopleSoft plans to charge an upfront fee to connect Staples to the potential customers and would get a cut of all transactions.

    That's just one possibility PeopleSoft is considering. Gadbois said the company hasn't hammered out the financial details yet, but e-commerce will be a big part of its revenue.

    -HotWired March 04, 1999

    We can't imagine that there's anyone in our audience who isn't intrigued by the idea of having targeted access to 30 Million currently employed potential candidates who are organized by functional specialty. While the concept is in a primitive form, the possibilities are very interesting.

    As we were reminded yesterday (see below), all change is not incremental. The odds that our industry is going to mature through a horse race run by the current players is far removed from reality. Discontinuous change (things that happen overnight and rearrange everything) is the foundation of the web. Think for a moment about the newspapers, third party recruiters and HR Departments who were left behind when the web first exploded. Many of that group still don't get it. They were surprised by an overnight turn of events fueled by a generational shift in demographics and a radical change in technology.

    Our business is in a very immature form. To date, the most visible aspects are Job Boards and a few fledgling services that help customers navigate the bewildering array of opportunities. From here, it looks like our industry has made the giant leap of automating the unemployment office. Large databases of jobs, thumbed through by candidates are hardly likely to be the shape of the medium term future. The time is ripe for a well funded player to start making some quiet moves. Discontinuous change is in the air.

    What makes the Peoplesoft news interesting is that it showcases the kinds of competitors and assets that have not yet been fully introduced on to our playing field. While we react with amazement at's bold television advertising strategy, potential entrants with much deeper pockets and better angles are sitting on the sidelines waiting for things to get a little more interesting.

    Were we Peoplesoft, we'd stop talking to reporters and make sure that the final product was never presented as a company venture. You might remember the huge flap when AOL began using their somewhat smaller database for similar purposes. Though we think that the privacy question is an over-played Red Herring, it's a great big one. Some of the best moves are made quietly. The Peoplesoft idea is not an industry endgame (in fact, we don't think we'll see an endgame for quite some time). It simply points out that all of the pieces are not yet in place. It suggests that the industry can still be moved by a discontinuous change.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    A New Standard In Sophistication

    (March 04, 1999) We're not often surprised. Many years of watching the industry unfold have occasionally lulled us into believing that incremental change is the only way things work. Though the web is revolutionary, people generally aren't. In a business environment, change often moves at the pace of the most reluctant customer. The conventional wisdom is "you can't move too far beyond customers or you'll cut off your growth."

    So, when the commercial came on last night, we were unprepared.

    Imagine a sequence of about a dozen shots of typically cute 6 to 8 year old children. Shot individually in a casual portrait style, the kids are each answering the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Their answers include things like:

    • I want to be downsized
    • I want a dead end job
    • I want to be bumped aside
    • I want to work for an idiot
    • I want to work so I can party all weekend
    • I want a job that I hate
    • I want someone else to get credit for my hard work
    and so on. After all of the "interview" shots are complete, the tagline is flashed. It's something like "What did you want to be when you grew up?". It's followed by the logo.

    It was brilliant in conception, audience targeting, execution and placement (towards the end of the Monica-Barbara interview). The commercial never mentioned the Internet, searching for jobs, posting resumes or the normal technical components of most of the advertising done in the industry. There was no picture of a computer, no mention of clicking, linking, browsing, emailing or searching. The message was simple and clear:

    "Your kids are following your example. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. We can help you change that."

    Earlier this week, we described the physical realities of the contemporary employment marketplace. There are only 500,000 candidates in play to fill the 3.5 million job openings. If Electronic Recruiting is to be successful, it has to reach beyond the low hanging fruit. The commercial shows the work of a company that understands the question. By gently repositioning their service they have managed to reconceive a component of the industry.

    The ad was much more like a pitch for financial services or insurance. Interestingly, the target audience is very similar (parents with kids in elementary school who don't like their jobs, are worried about their future, and are unhappy with the example they are setting for their children). It was a giant step towards industry maturity. For the time being, it puts in a class by itself.

    We are not what we do. In an industry as young as Electronic Recruiting, it's no surprise that the players tend to position themselves according to technical capabilities. It's predictable that, in this early stage of industry evolution, most advertising uses technical terms and describes detailed processes. Understanding the value that our customers and candidates receive takes some time. Learning how to talk about it takes even longer.

    In the land of MBA's, this is called a "value proposition". The question is never "What do you do?" or "How do you do it?" or "How is it better than a competitor?" Rather, the question that concerns our various customers is "What do I get out of the deal?" has set a new standard in sophistication. For one of their audiences, they've very effectively delivered a new message. They are opening a new audience. The pitch is: restore tarnished dreams. Keep your eyes open. A company that can deliver this level of play is going to be making a difference in other areas.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    On Display

    (March 03, 1999) Mill Valley, California (our home) is an interesting place. Lots of relatively well known writers, musicians and creative celebrities have their primary residences in our town. We're fortunate enough to be a part of a number of circles of writers. Recently, a good friend who is a widely respected author published what she considered to be the most important book of her career. The critics chewed it up, focusing on a minor portion of the entire story. Rather than the hit she had hoped for, the book failed because of the reviews.

    We know a fellow who runs a restaurant. The concept was fantastic, the chef specially recruited, the decor refreshingly different and the menu eclectic. Unfortunately, the first time the local food critic visited, she was served cold burnt food. Needless to say, the review was terrible. Interestingly, since restaurants are really built on word of mouth, he recovered and the restaurant is a thriving concern today.

    The point of these two stories is that reviewers can significantly influence a business that operates in public. This dynamic, which isn't a big part of non-web commerce is very important to understand in 21st Century Recruiting. All of your hard work can end up in the "circular file" as the result of a couple of bad reviews. The emotional shock of being on the receiving end of a negative review can send the organization spinning in the wrong direction.

    The web makes you subject to the vagaries that influence reviewers. Misunderstanding is common. The factors that influence much of the review process are beyond your control. It's a new aspect of the recruiting business that you must learn to deal with.

    Knowing how to handle a negative write-up is pretty important. Generally, we judge ourselves on our intentions while others judge us on our behavior. The restaurant certainly didn't intend to serve cold burnt food, but that's what the critic got. Their choice, once the review was published, was to moan about the review or to make sure that no customer ever got cold burnt food again. Or both. They wisely focused on improving their performance.

    After last week's article about the new advertising scheme at, we got a thoughtful note from Tony Lee (the guiding force behind the endeavor). With a great deal of diplomacy, Tony said:

    Just saw your report last week about our banner ads. You absolutely have a browser problem--popping out ads are not intentional.

    In one specific release of IE 4 that Microsoft says was only a beta version, our JavaScript isn't compiled properly, and the ad banner pops out of its window. That doesn't happen on Netscape of any other version of IE. Microsoft says that less than 1% of all IE 4 users have this problem, and they suggest that users of this version upgrade their browser, since many sites are affected by the bug.

    I really wish you'd called me about this before publishing an error. Please publish a correction as soon as possible. We would never create an intrusive ad on our site, and we've turned away substantial revenue from potential advertisers that have requested any kind of interstitial ad, which we don't accept. Feel free to publish any or all of this note.

    Notice that he was polite enough not to say "upgrade your browser, you moron". He didn't know, unfortunately, that we very specifically double and triple checked our software and used several machines to verify what we were seeing (even though we mentioned it in the review). The potential for insult, when trying to defend against a bad review, is high.

    Notice also that he asks for advance notice of the review. Can you imagine a credible restaurant reviewer who called ahead and said "I'm reviewing your restaurant tonight, be sure to have the best waiters available and warn the chef. And, if you have a bad experience, please call me before you write about it?" Of course not. The review process works precisely because advance warning isn't provided and intentions are not factored in to the analysis.

    It's an unfortunate and unpleasant part of the new business environment. Critics can visit your website 24 hours a day. If the server is slow or their perceptions skewed for some reason, you get the consequences. The best advice we can give you is to continue to focus on improving your performance. A bad review sometimes offers the opportunity to begin a dialog. The fellow who owns the restaurant later called the critic and said, "We took your review to heart and redesigned our kitchen to make sure that no one ever had that experience again. Thanks." The reviewer never visited the restaurant again but the owner was able to convert a negative into a positive. He now routinely talks with the critic about menu ideas and believes that a large part of his success comes from the bad review.

    Learning how to take and digest unsolicited but widely read feedback is a part of the game now. As the proprietor of an online service (your website), you communicate with an audience that can be influenced by a wide variety of factors that are out of your control. The very best you can do is make sure that your delivery is close to perfect. Use negative feedback as a tool for improvement.

    We, by the way, remain huge fans of the work Tony is doing. It's clear that the experience we had is not a part of a new approach to advertising by But, you can understand, we're sure, how a visitor might experience deep frustration with the site and make the assumption that a new form of advertising was being experimented with. Customers always judge you on the basis of their experience, not your intentions. They impute your intentions from their experience. Managing this dynamic is the essence of e-commerce.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Unemployment Rates and Demographics

    (March 01, 1999) We've been digging through the unemployment and census statistics for a client. Even though we know this stuff, seeing it again in detail is a continual source of refreshing reminder. Did you know that:
  • The unemployment rate for holders of college degrees (bachelors and above) is 1.8%!
  • Less than 25% of Americans have a four year (or more) college education?
  • Unemployment for those with High School Diplomas (or less) is over 8%.
  • The fastest growing occupations (in numbers) do not require a college degree.

    Unemployment numbers (the percentages) are more complicated than a body count. They make all sorts of wild assumptions (the kind of stuff that keeps government statisticians happy and busy). But, let's walk through some "back of the envelope" thinking about those numbers.

    Roughly, there are 120 Million people in the American workforce. (The others are too young, too old are not working right now.) If 25% have a minimum of a four year college diploma (that's high by a couple of points), there a 30 Million college graduates in the economy. If the unemployment rate translated directly into the number of people who are out of work (and it doesn't quite), here would be slightly more than 500,000 bodies in play. You might well ask additional questions about the mix of training in this group and so on. We know that there's a large pocket (say 50,000) who have PhDs and are trying to get one of the non-existent college professorships.

    So, 450,000 people are available immediately to fill the more than 2.5 Million discrete job postings. (There are over 35 Million listings but duplication is the current name of the game.) That's the numerical essence of the shortage we've been talking about. The other 2 Million openings are going to be solved in one of three ways:

  • The person who takes the job will be recruited from a competitor.
  • The job will go unfilled.
  • A less than perfect fit will be acquired and given additional training.

    As we survey the landscape, it seems that the "job board" business is overly focused on the impossible problem (filling jobs for college graduates) while the easy one goes unresolved. By leaps and bounds, the economy is built on people who don't have college degrees. And, there are plenty of people available to fill at least some of the openings.

    Meanwhile, the Recruiting profession is cluttered with misconceptions about the "ethics" of competitive hiring practice. As we discussed last week, an odd distinction (it's a carryover from an earlier time) that separates directly employed recruiters in HR departments from the subcontractors who serve them. There are really no ethics involved. If you have an opening that requires a college diploma, there is (at the very best) a one in five (20%) chance that you will find someone who is available to take the job. 80% of those placements will have to come from one of the three options we outlined earlier.

    - 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.

    All material on this site is © 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by IBN:
    (The Internet Business Network), PO Box 2474, Mill Valley, CA 94941
    Send comments to

  • interbiznet this week
    (thru Mar 07, 1999)
    1st Steps In The Job Hunt
  • Beat The Screen
  • Not Net But Soon
  • In Their Shoes
  • Cliches
  • Aging Opportunities


  • interbiznet Listings
         - Associations
         - ATS Companies
         - Public Companies
  • interbiznet Trends (New)
         - Bugler
           Daily Industry News

         - ERNIE
           ERN in Email

         ANNUAL REPORTS:      

  • Electronic Recruiting
         Index (ERI)
         - 2002 ERI
         - 2001 ERI
         - 2000 ERI
         - 1999 ERI
         - 1997 ERI
         - 1996 ERI
         - Report Pricing


  • Integrated Employment
          Branding Presentation
  • 2003 Trends Whitepaper
  • interbiznet Listings
  • interbiznet Trends
  • interbiznet Bookclub
  • Top 100 E-Recruiters
  • Presentations
         - Recruiting Then/Now
  • Recruiter's Toolkit
  • Seminar In A Box
  • ERN Archives
  • 1st Steps In The Hunt


  • Our Rate Card
  • Demographics

    Last Week's ERN

    Feb 28, 1999
  • Kinds of Recruiters
  • Video II
  • Big Fun
  • TidBits

    ERN Archives

    Past Issues
    Recruiting Seminars
    About interbiznet
    interbiznet publications
    Coming Soon: Tour This Site