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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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  • An Interesting Alternative

    (April 2, 1999) Overall, the problem with Korn-Ferry's Internet offering, FutureStep, is that it erodes the company's brand name with its most valuable asset, the candidates who might fuel its next generation of growth. With a volume of about 20,000 annual placements, Korn-Ferry has little use for two or three hundred thousand non-filtered profiles. The effect on potential candidates is easy to understand. After spending an hour or more to complete the FutureStep intake process, candidates rarely hear from the company with anything resembling Internet immediacy. The result...the street is awash with hopefuls who invested an hour with Futurestep and got no results. Futurestep makes disappointment the predominant first experience most people have with the Korn-Ferry brand. It's bad marketing.

    The recently announced Heidrick and Struggles Internet play takes the direct opposite approach. Leaders Online is designed for high quality, low volume with reduced investment from a candidate in the initial intake process. Rather than taking a massive plunge into a sea of unmet promises, Leaders Online is designed as a component of a desktop based recruiting play. The website might be better thought of as the closing mechanism for a direct marketing proposition than as a high visibility resume collection portal. We expect that many of the applicants who find themselves becoming a member of Leaders Online will be there as a direct result of a targeted marketing campaign.

    The Heidrick team has focused their energies on meeting the requirements of their high end corporate clients. The value proposition and high price point are designed to deliver recruiting results for specific clients with specific needs. We will be surprised to see Leaders Online in a Wall Street Journal - Futurestep type relationship. The targeting and results requirements are significantly more sophisticated and specialized. From our perspective, the core concept is light years ahead of the rest of the market. Leaders Online has a significant degree of promise. We'll know more about execution in a year or so.

    As we mentioned in this week's review of CareerCast, simplicity is the ultimate virtue in web design. The LeadersOnline crew has a significant distance to go on this front. The site includes a number of strange decision paths that keep a user cycling between two pages. The interface is stiff. The graphics feel like the product of a very formal corporate environment trying to enforce Friday as a casual day. But, these sorts of problems are normal in a first release. As you know, we tend to focus on the underlying business model. From here, it looks like LeadersOnline offers a meaningful difference in the conception of the net as a Recruiting tool.

    The trick will be balancing the demands of branding with consequences in candidate volume. It's a problem shared by many of the corporate newcomers to the Internet Recruiting space. To the extent that LeadersOnline is able to continually simplify its candidate intake process while maintaining a low profile, the fundamental strength of the Heidrick and Struggles brand will be enhanced and expanded. To the extent that it becomes a down-market play seeking lots of visibility, it will erode the company's reputation for quality as FutureStep has done for Korn-Ferry.

    In entrepreneurial circles, the prevailing wisdom is to ship first and fix later. A reputation for high quality can only be compromised while a reputation for low quality can always be improved. In this regard, it is interesting to note that TMP (, with its pending acquisition of Ward-Howell, has become one of the 10 largest executive recruiting firms. Clearly, TMP will be able to constantly uplevel its reputation. Although this sounds counter-intuitive, it makes them a competitor to be feared. Third party Recruiters are simply not used to dealing with players whose MO is "buy market share, then improve quality". Heidrick and Struggles has delivered an offering that currently maintains this delicate balance.

    - John Sumser Not Just April Fools

    (April 1, 1999) A day early.

    Joining the throng of third party firms out to critique the Internet as long as they haven't integrated it, F-O-R-T-U-N-E Personnel Consultants (a 99 office Executive Search Firm) is spinning the results of their latest survey to justify their inaction. With a press release titled "Survey Results Reveal Good Candidates are Scarce But On-line Resume Databases Miss the Mark", the folks at F-O-R-T-U-N-E resorted to the oldest trick in the statistics hand book.

    55% of their survey respondents thought that online recruiting was the least effective way to fill a management position. Only 13% thought that using an executive recruiter was the least effective. It's a modest twist on the "we may be bad but we're not as bad as that guy over there" dodge. Ironically, the press release refers the reader to their website for more information.

    And what a website it is. We particularly enjoyed the fact that the company was willing to spend the money to use stock photos of Barbara Walters, Monica Lewinsky and Roger Kossack look alikes. They really liven up the trailer-park feel of this particularly embarrassing offering.

    On one level, we agree with their assertion. Job Boards do miss the mark. With unemployment in the college educated ranks well below 2%, there are only 600,000 bodies in play at any given point in time. And, they're unlikely to be the ones that are sought as company managers. We've been singing this song for a long time.

    But, F-O-R-T-U-N-E (Man, that's hard to type) never delivers on the promise. A company that is smart enough to understand what doesn't work ought to be smart enough to figure out what does. The web is critical for long term Recruiting endeavors because it offers intimacy and speed, not database access and broadcast postings.

    We never cease to be amazed at the fact that professional Recruiters can't see the obvious ways that the web can make their jobs easier. Ah, well.

    We spend a lot of time, as a company, calling and talking with working Recruiters. Although it's still in the anecdotal stage, we thought you ought to be aware of an emerging issue. From what we can tell, attrition in the ranks of professional Recruiters (usually around 13%) is creeping up on 25% for 1999. We're considering a formal survey soon. Right now, our Rolodex is 6% out of date during the first quarter. Last year, it had only changed 3% by the end of the first quarter.

    That's because candidates are extremely hard to find. Recruiter's compensation hasn't changed to reflect the new environment. So, when hours per placement go up, income goes down. Owners and managers, in true Dilbert fashion, apply pressure to the Recruiters and don't invest in real solutions (building a long term candidate pool).

    We're sure that's how it is at F-O-R-T-U-N-E. Though their survey had little to do with Internet Recruiting methods, they trumpeted the problems (learning curve) of online Recruiting. We're betting that the press release was aimed at their workforce.

    Stay tuned to this space. Friday, we will be placing the new offering from Heidrik and Struggles under our microscope. Will we make it three in a row?

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    The Other Glove, Please

    (March 31, 1999) The large box was dropped unceremoniously on the doorstep by our trusty FedEx guy. "Yippee", shouted the staff, "more goodies". We unwrapped the box to find, what else, a single Red Boxing Glove. As Mark tried it on (Mark is our official goodie tester), the staff began chanting "If the glove fits, you must acquit." The accompanying press release was titled "Resumail Network Takes The Gloves Off". We're hoping that they took both of them off and will be sending us the left hand glove sometime soon.

    It looks like they only got one glove off, however. We expect to remain disappointed. Mark thinks it's divine guidance. From now on, we have to fight with one (ungloved) hand behind our backs.

    It's lots of fun getting PR stuff from companies. While we favor Tee Shirts and other articles of clothing, we get giddy from some of the stunts. One company sent out a great big box labeled conference survival kit. It contained two orthopedic inserts with their product's name on it. We can't remember the name, however and we're sure that it wasn't 'sorefoot'. At least they sent out two.

    Back to Resumail's well deserved thrashing.

    Resumail has purchased the domain name "" and that's what all of the fuss is about. According to their press release:

    " stands to corner the online recruiting category by tremendously increasing exposure to online job seekers through this corporate positioning and online branding. is the first and only company in the world to standardize the process of online Recruitment."


    The purchase of the name is an interesting footnote. It's just a little soon, we think, to stage a PR campaign that features a single red leather glove. But then again, Mr.. Simpson is now doing commercials, we hear. And, a company called is making extremely similar claims without using any gloves at all.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Career Cast

    (March 30, 1999) In the swirl of hype and change, Rick Miller is a font of common sense. Miller, who runs the low-profile, highly effective CareerCast seems to possess an actual vision of the future of Electronic Recruiting. By consistently placing one foot directly in front of the other, he has built his company in the shadows of larger and noisier competitors. It's time to take another look at his progress.

    For starters, CareerCast has gone to some lengths to eliminate the need for companies to build Resume Spiders. Their Resume Database, bargain basement priced at $600 per year, offers broad access to the various resumes tucked in home pages and out of the way micro databases. Resumes are reformatted and standardized to improve their usability. The database's search engine is powerfully refined to deliver accurate results on the first pass. It's the best single place to begin experiencing the customer service that is the heart of the CareerCast reputation.

    The company also offers Job Posting and Distribution services. Like Junglee, CareerCast offers "do nothing" Recruiting. You post the jobs on your page and CareerCast comes and gets them. Jobs are posted to a variety of potent network partners. Unlike Junglee, the relationship is direct and consistent. Rather than purchasing "do-nothing" recruiting services from a middleman, CareerCast is right there and able (and willing) to work the kinks out of any problems.

    These features alone would make CareerCast a must see option when building an online Recruiting Strategy. Recently, however, they have added a slew of features that positions them as a looming large competitor. From internal workflow to response management, CareerCast has unfurled an offering that rivals anything currently on the market for depth and breadth of service.

    For instance, ResumeServer, their response management tool, takes all of the guesswork out of integrating website responses and job posting responses. In other words, with CareerCast, it is possible to place job postings on your company website, have them distributed and have all of the responses integrated into a single database. Rather than paying one of the flourishing database companies to design a one-off solution, CareerCast allows recruiters to get on with Recruiting.

    They also offer a fully capable applicant tracking module.

    When we reviewed the complete integrated system, we were most impressed by its absolute simplicity. If you haven't followed our reviews over time, you may not know that we think that real simplicity is the most important part of web interface design. Any fool can create a website. Well endowed fools seem extremely skilled at developing overly complicated and hard to use interfaces. Delivering a simple, intuitive product takes extremely focused (usually expensive) engineering. The problem is that getting to simplicity requires that you pass through the complexity, understand it and minimize it for your customers. Designing simplicity into an employment related administrative management tool requires a kind of passion that is in extremely short supply. CareerCast has managed to pull off this feat. The site and its subsets are disarmingly simple. It's a really nice job.

    The full package can be set up for about $13,500 and will solve the bulk of the administrative problems facing an online Recruiter. The company's client list looks like a roster from the "serious technology companies" annual club meeting. From Lockheed to Northrop, IBM to Oracle, they're all here. CareerCast seems poised for a large round of growth. Any competitor in the space would do well to take a close look at the offerings. A fully capable set of tools at a very attractive price point does not bode well for companies trying to find a new home for preexisting overheads. CareerCast is a from scratch web play. It is fast becoming a model of how to do it right.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Hodge Podge

    (March 29, 1999) The ongoing discussion about massive job postings to Usenet seems to be having the following results:
    • Net Temps continues to push the issue forward. DICE has joined in the proactive movement towards a solution.
    • A number of boards are simply ignoring the problem (CareerMagazine, Recruiters Online Network and
    Proposed remedial efforts include sending an extremely nasty email to the organization with the job. We'd bet that the RON, CareerMag and Headhunter customers will be upset. To see how far its gone, you might want to look over a filter developed so that Usenet readers can see through the haze. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the "blacklisted" posters.

    Thanks to Kevin Strange at Net Temps for keeping us posted on the evolution of the subject.

    A reader pointed out that one reason for's refusal to handle headhunting clients is that is a headhunter itself. It's an interesting and illuminating twist that we really hadn't considered.

    You might want to take a look at the incredible network Westech has pulled together. Westech, now owned by a newspaper chain, has kept its efforts stealthy while building a major force in the business. In Silicon Valley, there's a curse that goes "May you get lots of press and Venture Capital investments". Westech understands the curse and has gone a long way to avoid it. Their customers really benefit.

    Heidrick and Struggles, arguably the largest "silk slipper" Recruiting Firm, has finally made its entrance in the online Recruiting game. It's offering, Leaders Online, uses the tagline "linking the best in business with technology's brightest". More on the subject in an upcoming article. Meanwhile, take a look for yourself.

    The Melissa virus is all over the news today. Jesse Berst's Anchor Desk offers its usual pretty useful tips on what to do.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    What's Up?

    (March 23, 1999) If you look back at the top of this page, you'll notice a couple of little changes. Our March '99 print newsletter is now available for downloading. The print newsletter has an interesting circulation and tends to get passed around a wide variety of offices. This issue features a detailed look at one company's complex web strategy and the person behind it. It also covers some useful sites, a range of people finding tools, marketing tips, our current Top 100 Recruiting sites, and the usual tidbits.

    Along the road to publishing this edition of the print newsletter, we've undergone some changes here at IBN.

    After two solid years of bouncing around the North American continent delivering classroom seminars, a couple of simple things dawned on us. First of all, it became increasingly clear that many job boards were going to be delivering free seminars as a part of their marketing strategy. It's a natural and important evolution. Internet Recruiting tools currently require a heavy dose of education before customers can effectively use them. Secondly, it became clear to us that classrooms are not effective in delivering the sorts of advanced techniques that we've pioneered.

    As a result, we've split our training product line into two separate components. For the past couple of months, you've probably noticed the piece at the bottom of this page offering our onsite individualized training. By focusing on the specific needs of a specific company, we've been able to leave our customers glowing, effective and ready to move full tilt into the online recruiting game. We're convinced that this customized approach is a necessary part of building a solid online recruiting team. With a dozen, of these engagements under our belts, we can assure you that our customers end up extremely satisfied.

    In the print newsletter, we're announcing the second part of our training initiative. Seminar In A Box, our CD based training program, will begin shipping on June 1, 1999. The idea is simple. Rather than taking a full day out of the workplace to digest relatively foreign ideas, we're building a day long training program that can be constantly reviewed by all of the people in an office. The courseware is built around our day long Advanced Searching and Sourcing Techniques seminar and includes video, text, testing and a completion certificate.

    We are convinced that solid Electronic Recruiting can only happen in a work environment that shares a base level of competence. With a CD based training program, the workforce can be trained during slack hours. Because the material is reusable and repeatable, it's now possible to create a solid foundation of expertise within a company. We're proud of the fact that we're the first (as usual) to use the technology to reduce costs, increase benefits and further expand the capabilities of our customers.

    We're offering the course at $295 for prepublication orders (through June 1, 1999). After that point, the package will sell for $395. Given the fact that similar seminars, held in hotel classrooms away from the workplace, retail for $995 per person (and more), we're sure that you'll agree that the offering is a bargain.

    You can learn more about Seminar in a Box and get a copy of the order form by downloading the print newsletter. It's a great way to bring your entire office up the learning curve.

    - 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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