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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

    (March 19, 1999) Net Temps, the Tyngsboro, MA job posting service continues to press on. We received their current disk-based offering in the mail along with a couple of America Online CDs (unrelated). The marketing campaign (disks in the mail) seems to consistently outperform the more traditional direct sales methods of the competition. We often wonder why no one else is using the disk-in-the-mail approach.

    On the Net Temps site is a feature that we believe points to the future. Hire Temps Online presents the credentials of selected candidates who are available for work. The Net Temps process facilitates the hiring manager with the firm who "owns" the candidate. A hiring manager can shop through a set of candidates (organized by state and willingness to relocate). Once you find an acceptable worker, the systems puts you directly in touch with the Temp firm. We think this is a harbinger of a new form of recruiting service.

    It simply takes time. Getting money from investors in large hunks (or buying your division out from the parent company) comes with a penalty. It's like one of those joke contests...first prize is a 3 day vacation in Cleveland...2nd prize is a one week vacation in Cleveland. With venture financing comes a good news bad news scenario. The good've got money. The bad've got serious growing pains.

    Throughout our little industry, the growing pains are more an less obvious. From the funny stories about the DICE webservers going out the minute they were bought to the rearranging of the deck chairs going on in recently financed high potential operations, getting through the first round of new money simply opens the door to execution problems. One of the real tests of a manager in the web business is how well they handle cancerous growth.

    If one of your suppliers is crowing about their recent capital infusions, be wary. Money means an infusion of new people who probably don't know much about the business. If your job board, posting service or agency is focused on growth, they are probably not focusing on you.

    America's Job Bank, which claims job postings in excess of 800,000 is a government service. We're hard pressed to understand why the government has hired a PR firm to promote this free service.

    Check back with us over the next couple of days. We're just about to publish the first 1999 issue of our print newsletter. It will be on the website today.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    IE 5

    (March 18, 1999) The latest version of Internet Explorer is available online today. Expect web traffic to slow significantly as the early adopters clog Microsoft's download servers. The new version (5.0) offers faster web performance from improved graphics rendering and more intelligent use of cache.

    We've been advocating the use of Internet Explorer for a couple of years now. Without delving into the nearly religious conflict between the pro-Netscape and pro-Microsoft factions, using IE simply makes good business sense. It's as simple as the very reasons that Microsoft is having so much legal trouble. When all of the pieces are designed to work together, things work better.

    We use Microsoft Office for much of the publishing, presenting and forecasting work that we do. When we standardized on Netscape products, our researchers spent hundreds of hours reformatting data between the two. Simply standardizing on Microsoft IE gave us a significant productivity bump.

    Don't rush out and get a copy of version 5 this afternoon. It will take forever and there are likely to be bugs in the first release. Instead, take a moment and look through ZDNet's pretty useful review of features and additional downloads.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Green Recruiting

    (March 17, 1999) Growth is granular. While we typically talk in figures like 100,000 jobs here, 100,000 jobs there, a close look at the Irish Internet puts things in a different perspective. Irish unemployment is hovering around 9% (low by European standards....Spain's figure is 20%), there are aggressive moves in process to import work and business.

    5,000 new jobs in software and technology position Ireland as the fastest growing technical economy in Europe (on a percentage growth basis, of course). Ireland has the highest per capita Internet penetration of any European country. As a result, the Job Board and Online Recruitment businesses are beginning to take shape.

    Here are a few of the most interesting entrants. Our rough look suggests that at least 200 firms have some form of Recruiting presence.

    Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


    (March 16, 1999) Olsten, the temporary services company, has released an interesting study (see the press release in our archives). According to "The 1999 Olsten Forum: Staffing Strategies", "newspaper classified advertising remains the most effective method of Recruiting. Only 5% of this year's hiring will be generated through the Internet. 38% of companies have online job applications, up from 17% two years ago."

    "Clearly, there is still a large window of opportunity for companies to leverage the Internet and other technologies as part of their recruiting strategy," Says Gordon Bingham, Olsten VP. "Over the long term, we expect the Internet to replace traditional classified advertising as the primary source of applicants."

    Hmmmm. Spin is everything, isn't it.

    We think the numbers are close. But, and it's a great big but, the study results are nothing short of incredible for an approach that is barely 5 years old. Conservative and tied to the low end of the market (where the demographic shortages are much less severe), Olsten is all but conceding full market penetration in, at most, 3 years. If their customers say 5% of all hires will be from Internet sources this year, the number is probably closer to 7.5%. Can you remember another time during which a radical alternative for hiring emerged in such a short time? It would be legitimate to conclude that 20% of all hiring will be Internet based in 2002.

    Defensive press release writing is an art form. A close look at the Olsten websites (Corporate and WorkNow) shows why it was important to say that "there is still a large window of opportunity for companies to leverage the Internet." Given the low quality of the offerings, there had better be a remaining window of opportunity. When Olsten uses the word only, it is like saying that only 5% of record album owners had purchased a Compact Disc in 1987.(By 1991, the number was 80%. By 1993, it was getting hard to find record albums distributed on vinyl.)

    Certainly, there is a broad range of market opportunity open and available for savvy players to exploit. Our take is that, as an industry, we won't get the hang of using the Internet until well into the next decade. While big lumbering players like Olsten continue to constrain their investment in the Internet, more agile competitors are seizing the opportunity. While the behavior is understandable, it's unfortunate for stockholders and company employees.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    The Ides Of March

    (March 15, 1999) We can't see it yet, but there's a shift afoot. Last week, we spent a morning with the folks from (mentioned in an earlier column). Their implementation of the Recruitment Advertising game in regional markets is telling.

    Without being overly opaque, isn't really a web enterprise. The core idea of the offering is a clever integration of a variety of media into a single, focused Recruiting pitch. They combine video, outdoor advertising, print, radio and the web into a unified message system that happens to display some information and collect some data on the web. The message has depth and is spread carefully across the media in order to clearly communicate the Recruiting story that their sponsors want to tell.

    Well, that's stretching it a bit.

    One of the challenges facing is that sponsors don't necessarily see the benefits of telling the whole story. Obviously, the web is an ideal method for delivering an insider's view of a prospective employer. In showcase company profiles, offers a look at the cubicles, the internal players and a sense of the real company. But, getting at the data can be like pulling teeth. Not because it's a bad idea but because recruiters just haven't gotten the hang of thinking about the larger story and its presentation.

    Fully implemented, a Recruiting campaign on is an amazing thing. Billboards, commercials (radio and TV) and print ads lead interested potential employees to a full spectrum web presentation of the company and its opportunities. Each component of the campaign offers the employer benefit in terms of brand awareness, publicity or pure recruiting data. But, as we said, this makes it something other than a pure web play. By integrating the other media into a single way of doing business, is setting standards beyond the simpler aspirations of straight web enterprises. They offer an industrial strength tool (at industrial strength prices) that seems likely to produce industrial strength results.

    Meanwhile, pay attention to the Lycos-USANetworks deal as it falls apart. Portals, which we have pooh-poohed over the years, appear to be ending their reign as the web business model of the month. By undervaluing Lycos in the transaction, USANetworks is driving a nail in the coffin of a way of seeing the web that was, at best, temporary. Portals, which assume that the web can be converted into proxies of the television network model, miss the real long term strength of the web. Rather than being a mass-media, the web is a medium for the masses. Although investors would certainly love to find the "one size fits all" model for building a web fortune, we think that there's a way to go before we reach the promised land. To the extent that a web business mimics the mass-broadcast model, it is at risk.

    What we really like about is that it points towards a way of doing business that integrates a variety of things into a single purpose. It's closer to the mark.

    - 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.

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