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Joe and Sony Style
(August 05, 1999) What do Starbucks and Sony have in common? It's more than the fact that their products go into various parts of your face. It's more than the obvious overlap in demographics. It's more than the Starbucks store in the middle of Sony's Metreon.

Both companies are at the leading edge of the changing definition of branding and advertising. Both companies are producing a new kind of magazine. Both companies are using the specialty publishing division at Time Life to accomplish their investigation of the magazine business. Both companies advertise in each other's new venture.

For Starbucks, the new magazine is called Joe, a (you might have guessed) glossy coffee table thing that is high on pretty fluff, low on content. For Sony, the magazine is called Sony Style, a large format, picture laden offering that includes highlights from the Sony Catalog and stories of creative people who (oh by the way) use Sony stuff.

Both magazines take advertising from companies who have a tenuous connection at best. The business model includes profitability as a significant goal. The search for profit forces the editorial/advertising team to consider a broad range of alliances and customer relationships that wouldn't be a normal part of the parent company's core business.

The endeavors are important to our industry for the following reasons:

  • Increasingly, recruiting will involve targeting demographics. It's the only way you can reliably find "passive candidates" in a shortage market and continue to minimize time per placement.
  • Targeting niche demographics will always involve a game of tiny statistics. The costs will be beyond the reach of most companies and small Recruiters. Business models that combine targeting and profitability will become a part of some Recruiting shops.
  • Delivering content that is relevant to a target demographic is outside of the core expertise of most Recruiting shops. More than anything else, these ventures demonstrate the importance of content as a vehicle for reaching potential candidates.
  • Understanding how new style partnerships are working is critical for making the right strategic moves.
  • The essence of both magazines is to use the parent company's brand recognition as an umbrella. Allied companies who are competing for the same discretionary income are invited underneath the umbrella and treated like customers. This is co-opetition at its finest.
It's likely that we'll return to Joe and Sony Style over the coming months. Currently, Joe is the better model for what could evolve into a Recruiting platform. The idea to take away from your first look is that profitable magazines, with the added benefit of offering access to potential candidates, are looming in our future.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

No Excuse Recruiting

(August 03, 1999) We call him Mr. Tools. While the rest of the players have been focused on the candidate side of the Equation, Tom Murray (of IT-TA) has been really working on the client management side of things. A quick look at the website will demonstrate an arsenal of tools designed to help Recruiters get back to Recruiting.

>From robotic management of multiple result streams (fancy words for handling all of the data from posting on a number of job boards) to automated referral programs, Tom's company has focused increasingly on building tools for Recruiters. His business assumes that the job boards are doing just fine, thank you, in their job of supplying Recruiters with potential candidates. IT-TA focuses on adding value once the jobboards are done with their work.

Tom says his approach is "No Excuses Recruiting". His sees his job as doing whatever it takes to see that a Recruiter has a pipeline of qualified candidates, easily accessible, resulting from job postings and web searches and other extraction techniques. IT-TA bundles the results so that a recruiter can clearly focus on the real tasks of building a relationship and reducing cycle time. He proudly points to organizations that he has helped achieve a 7 business day Recruiting cycle.

When he says "No Excuses", he means that a Recruiting manager can depend on IT-TA to deliver an adequate supply of opportunities to fill a position. The difference is clearly left in the hands of the trench level Recruiter. This way, the Internet ceases to be a time sink and starts behaving as a valuable sourcing tool.

He tells the story of Recruiters who are hiring trolls to work under bridges collecting tolls. Everyone knows, in his story, that there is a tremendous (say, 40%) shortage of trolls and that there is an ongoing talent war. While IT-TA can help pinpoint potential trolls in a variety of automated ways, and deliver them directly to the desktop, he is finding that performance shortcomings amount to one of the following excuses:

  • I sent Mr. Troll an email and he didn't reply.
  • I called Ms. Troll and left a voice mail.
  • I looked at the Trolls and all of them already had jobs.
  • I didn't see Tom's list. When I looked on the Net, there weren't any trolls.
  • The Resumes I got were more than 90 days old.
  • By the time I had an approved offer, Ms. Troll already had a job.
  • There were no perfect matches in the resumes I received.
The point of Tom's story, we think, is that even if you take all of the confusion out of Internet Recruiting, there are still structural problems in Recruiting Departments. While the industry has purged lots of old timers who specialized in CYA tactics, there is a severe shortage of skilled Recruiters who know how to pursue a candidates. If you take inexperienced Recruiters and cripple them with long approval cycles, nothing happens. If you shorten the cycle time, nothing is going to happen without training.

Tom's goal is to deliver Internet data in a way that allows a manager to start focusing on the internal issues. By routinely fulfilling his end of the deal, Tom makes it possible for a manager to clearly assess real recruiting problems and determine whether or not they are professional (a training requirement) or organizational (a cycle time problem).

We hope more of the companies in the mid ground start to take this perspective. It will help the industry segment nicely into candidate centric operations and client centric operations. The change would be refreshing.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


(August 02, 1999) The other night we showed an out of town visitor the impact that the web has had on our city. We planned an evening of dinner, movies and a little shopping in the SOMA district if San Francisco. We scavenged the movie times online and then ordered our tickets with the push of a button.

We were headed to Metreon, Sony's new complex.

With 14 theaters, five restaurants, several shops, three "amusements" and the web as a role model, Metreon is like nothing you have ever seen. We've begun to think of it as the intersection of the web and architecture. It's part shopping mall, part theme park and all web.

The stores and attractions flow into each other like the seamless experience a web surfer has moving between sites. Microsoft's first retail store, a Sony outlet and a store dedicated to Sony's PlayStation anchor the retail experience. Starbucks and branches of five San Francisco eateries provide the dining. There's an IMAX theater, an attraction based on "Where The Wild Things Are", an adventure based on "The Way Things Work" and a video arcade. The arcade features a 100 player interactive game and "Virtual Bowling".

The five story building has a glass wall that frames San Francisco's new Museum of Modern Art (often accused of being more interesting on the outside than the inside). You can arrange for Metreon Money at the simple information kiosks. The vendors and restaurants all take the subway toll card like currency.

Our movie tickets shot out of the ticketmachine the moment we inserted the credit card. The influence of EDS (who runs the website and information system) is at the infrastructure level. It's easy to see the integration.

The big story, of course, isn't all of the gee whiz technology (and it's everywhere). Rather, Sony has unleashed a different model for a night out that can be initiated from your desktop. Once on the scene, the experience is like cruising through a complex website. The stores and attractions flow into each other. Lighting and architecture are used to define environments rather than harsh boundaries. Lots of executives seem to take the "here's how we did it" tours.

Metreon is not a theory or a futuristic prediction. It's alive and (apparently) profitable in downtown San Francisco. We see it as a solid example of how quickly the world is changing to absorb and expand on the web experience.

If you are considering designing or redesigning a Recruiting Website, we suggest that you take a very close look at Metreon. Set aside a day on your next trip to San Francisco. The experience will tell you more about where we're headed than you can get in any other way.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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