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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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  • Tidbits

    (July 09, 1999) Today, Scotland On Line, the first Scottish Electronic Service we're aware of, opened for business. The business model is the most interesting aspect of this somewhat typical job board. The service expects profitability based on traffic of 20,000 job seekers per month.

    It's this sort of emphasis on profitability in small niche settings that will be the standard for most future endeavors in our space.

    Recruiter's Network, The Association for Internet Recruiting, conducted a recent poll on Internet Recruiting practices.

    • 34.2% of companies with over 10,000 employees had at least one recruiter dedicate strictly to Internet recruiting.
    • 71% of companies will be spending more next on Internet recruiting. 23% will be spending roughly the same and 6% of the companies will be spending less.
    • 71.3% of the companies polled spent 1-20% of their recruiting budget this year on the Internet. Almost 10% of the companies allocated 50% of their budget to recruiting via the web.
    • 45% of the companies polled had 1-20% of their hires come directly from Internet Recruiting. Roughly 1% had 0 hires and over 10% of the companies hired more then 50% of their staff from the web over the last year.
    • 83% of the companies had an employment section within their companies web site.
    The full results are available at http://www.recruitersnetwork.com/poll

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


    (July 08, 1999) The name is a clear play for the top of the list at Yahoo and other directories. Following the now ancient yellow pages strategy for naming a company (do whatever it takes to be the first on the list), 1-jobs.com is emerging as a minor force with a groundswell of momentum. The core company is a job fair producer who appears to be copying the playbook established by Westech.

    1-jobs.com is owned and operated by 1st Communications, an Ohio based Trade Show and Events Management Company. 1st Communications has had the foresight to open an adjacent advertising agency (a step we're certain is in the future of a variety of online job services). The company seems to be coherently organized around the principle of providing as much value as possible to its customers. This stands in stark opposition to the widespread strategy of amping up the equity value of a company by focusing on the Internet component. Again, this is a trait shared by Westech.

    1-jobs.com appears to be having the same impact on the parent company that VJF and Monster have had on theirs. The exploding value and utility of the web endeavor, originally conceived of as an ancillary function, is modifying the company's perception of itself.

    Although the transformation is difficult to manage, it's an enviable position. By investing in the web enterprise, 1st Communications is allowing the market to drive its evolution. It's a model worth considering.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Letters, We Get Letters

    (July 07, 1999) Our mail boxes get a daily dose of reviews, recommendations and love notes. Recently, we've received a spate of tough critiques of the redesign of the RON site. The first piece in today's mail read:
    Please forward this message to RON(they don't disclose an email address) and tell them their NEW AND IMPROVED website SUCKS ...as well as the fact that it doesn't work and produces GARBAGE for searches.If it ain't broke....
    We were quite surprised by the extent of the mistakes made in RON's current implementation. Bad links, vaporware services and opaque marketing make the site unattractive as a sales tool. The website bears your consideration as an example of how to ruin a business with a badly executed redesign. While we imagine that RON's current happy customers will never notice, the redesign will effectively eliminate the firm's growth potential. Some examples:
    • We found it interesting that RON now thinks that Job Hunters need software like PCRecruiter or EZ Access (headhunting tools) and that Resume Writers means "books about resumes", not people who write and edit them. (Each of the links in the last sentence are as presented in the RON website today.)
    • The new brochure-like website describes the Recruiting network as being divided into 67 specialties and 73 specialties in various places. Unfortunately, the specialties seem to be company name, city and state (according to the search engine interface).
    • The website offers a great service called Smart RFP which, unfortunately doesn't appear to work. (Smart RFP purports to allow an employer to submit requisitions which can be serviced by the network as a whole.)
    • A very close reading of the Membership benefits page will give you a picture of the depth of tools and resources offered to the third party firms in RON's membership. Unfortunately, you'd need an advanced degree in calculus or astrophysics to make sense of the offering at a glance.
    • Sadly, it's true that you can not find a phone number or contact information for the company anywhere on their site. Not including contact information raises all sorts of credibility issues. (For future reference, you can always gather contact information about a website by using Websitez or Alexa which is part of the 5.0 version browsers.)
    So, what went wrong?

    It looks like the team at RON went over the edge with a mandate to produce a simple interface. In total, the public website has no more than 15 or 20 pages (most devoted to describing the broad array of services available to recruiters. Unfortunately, no one bothered to produce a one page summary. The prospective user is left to drown in a sea of details posing as a simple interface.

    Developing a really effective tool for delivering your message online is an expensive proposition. It requires extraordinary attention to detail and the ability to create a message that rivals the best advertising copywriters. When botched, the result can sabotage your business objectives. This will happen even when (as we think is the case with RON) the underlying service is a very strong offering.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

    Trade Shows

    (July 06, 1999) As usual, June was chock full of trade shows and conferences. We went to the Computerworld Recruiting conference and IHRIM, missing the crowd at SHRM. Throngs of customers and vendors buzzing about the dynamics of online Recruiting. After a year devoted to marketing (at the expense of development), there was little in the way of new product announcements. The vendors came away hoarse. The customers came away more bewildered than ever. Newspaper business development people were talking with anyone who could spell "Job Board".

    At IHRIM, every vendor had a Recruiting pitch. While the typical SHRM vendor sells a component of an overall Internet Recruiting Strategy, the IHRIM vendors all saw the need for a comprehensive "end to end" solution. Unfortunately, not one of the offerings actually solved the problem. Meanwhile, SHRM is beginning to behave like a grocery market (minus the quality control). A customer could pull a comprehensive solution together from the various pieces represented in the vendor boots. The sad problem is that no one is really offering a one stop shopping service that mitigates customer risk.

    Besides the Monster Talent Auction (covered in depth last week), only a few announcements really grabbed our attention.

    • CareerBuilder has inked a long term agreement to provide services for NBC and all of its affiliates. This gives the recently-gone-public company a foothold in nearly 100 regional markets. The move is a significant move forward for CareerBuilder's strategy.
    • Headhunter.net announced the ability to take credit cards online. This is a good thing that should be widely copied (sad that it isn't a standard feature). We don't know how much this will help with the company's shift from a free site to a fee based site. We imagine that their traffic and results are in decline just as they try to move their IPO forward.
    • HotJobs announced an agreement to partner with About.com and TechRepublic (an IT community) for "content". The move signals a broad move throughout the industry to supplement Job listings with relevant information (not just career advice).
    • In a similar vein, Westech announced a content partnership with RemarQ. Westech has been quietly amassing a distribution powerhouse with key properties like The Street.com and SFGate. The network rivals CareerBuilder's entry.
    • Yet another consulting firm published a misguided view of our industry. Citing a whopping 300 employment websites, the report marvels at the problems caused by getting a lot of email resumes. Can you spell "look closer"?
    The funny thing is that these few announcements emphasize alliance and business development (except for the bonehead report). In a deeply technical industry, ultimate customer satisfaction is going to depend on functionality and results. The alliances take care of the results, in a way. The functionality might just start coming from more traditional HR Information Systems vendors. While there was no evidence that they had a solution, the booths seemed to emphasize the problem. It's about time for a surge in effort from these traditional (and somewhat entrenched) vendors. Though slow to catch on, the only way that you could possibly explain the lack of convincing offerings from this sector is that they are in development.

    We're starting to bet that the next 12 months will be a time for new features.

    - John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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