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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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We're Changing Our Name To Chrysler
(November 05, 1999) In 1980, Tom Paxton released a satirical folk song called "I'm Changing My Name To Chrysler". Times were different then. One of the key government interventions was a billion dollar bailout of the Chrysler Corporation. Back then, a billion dollars was a lot more than a Dr. Evil tagline.

O the price of gold is rising out of sight
And the dollar is in sorry shape tonight
What a dollar used to get us now won't get a head of lettuce
No the economic forecast isn't bright
But amidst the clouds I spot a shining ray
I begin to glimpse a new and better way
I've devised a plan of action, worked it down to the last fraction
And I'm going into action here today

I am changing my name to "Chrysler"
I am going down to Washington, D.C.
I will tell some power broker `What you did for Iacocca
Would be perfectly acceptable to me!'
I am change my name to "Chrysler" I am leaving for that great receiving line
When they hand a million grand out,
I'll be standing with my hand out
Yes sir, I'll get mine

(c) 1980 Accabonac Music

From what we can tell, the same mentality has hit the Electronic Recruiting Marketplace. Flooded with lots of new money, established players are changing their names at astonishing rates. We're always tickled by the companies who change their names and then are astonished that no one remembers them or knows who they are.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Life Takes Work

(November 04, 1999) Now that KForce is battling for access to the same media slots, we see less and less of the Interim ad campaign. Pioneering the use of regional time slots (also coveted by the Monster Campaign), Interim was the first company to use the web to advertise its employment website. There was a big PR flurry for a while (including a short term relationship with AltaVista through Worklife). We're guessing that the recent merger with Norrel sapped the company's money, attention and interest in the web.

Although we're not sure we can explain it, you can sort of tell when a website has become a low priority. Somehow, the energy is missing, the excitement is gone and the site seems to whither on the vine. It's not that the graphics change. It's more like regular attention really shows in very subtle ways.

It wasn't all that long ago that we found the Interim approach so attractive that we raved about it. In late 1998, we awarded the company one of our coveted Top 100 Electronic Recruiters Awards. Funny how quickly things change.

We routinely encounter a broad range of clients and readers who have lost their grasp on the fact that a website is a communications tool. By definition, it has to stay lively (with ever changing content) to remain interesting. It's lot of work.

The web is not a place. A website is not a place. Saying that you are the biggest company on the web is like saying you are the biggest company on the phone. The appropriate response is "So What?" The purpose of a website is to engage and retain an audience. To do that, you have to pay attention in routine increments with real investment behind the attention.

A website is not a one night stand, it's a commitment of marriage to an audience.

So, it's sort of sad to visit the Interim website. The lack of attention and investment (which first appeared as a decrease in advertising) shows. It's like visiting a ghost town.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Step 1: Deconstruction

(November 03, 1999) We've mentioned before that we like ROMAC's KForce. The relocation section is the best we've seen with data down to the level of local school contact information (including the name of the Principal). Though we imagine that training through a site like KForce should be free, they do offer a 10% discount on critical tech training. The broad range of articles in their "knowledge services" includes a solid, short primer on Employment Law.

Although the largest part of the labor shortage involves getting any candidates at all, KForce offers an interesting approach to post-discovery candidates. They "package" known entities at varying levels of quality. The "Romac Validated Candidate SM" is a sort of "golden resume" with assessed skill levels, verified information, and confirmed backgrounds. The value added process makes the hiring transaction move that much faster (when there are available candidates to be packaged).

Romac is trying hard to "move their thirty-seven years of staffing expertise on-line and unbundle their service offerings". KForce takes them a step closer to that objective.

You can tell that we've been hanging around with a few too many intellectuals when we say that Deconstruction is the first step in moving an existing 3rd Party Firm online. We've witnessed far too many failures to think that the process is straightforward. Deconstruction (or unbundling) means taking a microscopic look at existing services and figuring out exactly which parts of the whole contribute what value. In other words, the move online requires a moment (the beginning, really) of fairly intensive introspection and planning.

In shorthand, the questions are:

  1. How can we describe our business in the smallest pieces possible?
  2. How has the marketplace changed since we got good at this?
  3. What needs to change?
  4. How do we implement that online?
Obviously, the process is significantly more involved than the simple questions indicate.

We like KForce, in part, because it demonstrates an intelligent beginning of a move down the path.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

New Email Newsletter

(November 02, 1999) Over the years, we've been promising the delivery of a daily email newsletter. One project or another has always come between the promise and the delivery. For the past couple of months we've been cooking up the product, training editors and distribution people, working the kinks out of the design, getting the name right and so on. By the middle of next week, we'll be ready for launch.

Tentatively, we're going to call it the interbiznet Bugler (that's bugler as in toot toot not buggler as in creepy crawly). The idea is to cover the Internet News as it relates to the Electronic Recruiting Industry. We'll also cover the items that we can't get to in this newsletter (The Electronic Recruiting News). We've occasionally run a segment called Tidbits which covers the little items. You might think of the interbiznet Bugler as a daily emailed version of Tidbits plus other relevant Internet news.

The goal is to supplement our daily missives with more direct news that you can use.

Donna Troisi, the full time editor, has been charged with sifting through the billions of bits of information to provide a package that saves time for our readers. We've asked her to become our eyes and ears on the announcements, industry trends, technology changes and other issues that shape our evolving industry.

If you've registered for our free newsletters in the past, we'll be sending you the interbiznet Bugler each day. About 15,000 readers have already signed up. As you might guess, sponsorships are available.

Here's a sample of the kind of material we plan to offer:

Privacy, Peeping Toms, and (Justified?)Paranoia
Most human resource professionals and job seekers agree on issues of workplace privacy according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and careers.wsj.com. When it comes to the issues of videomonitoring and searching employees, they differ significantly.

RealNetworks' popular RealJukebox software for playing CDs on computers secretly monitors user listening habits and other activities and reports this information, along with the user's identity, to RealNetworks without informing consumers that they are being identified and monitored by the company.

In a 34-page report prepared by the its domestic terrorism unit, the FBI is warning police chiefs nationwide that it has discovered evidence of religious extremists, racists, cults, and other groups preparing for violence as New Year's Eve approaches.

Year Looks Good for Students
Based on the results of the most recent Jobtrak.com index, college students looking for jobs in the Year 2000 will have many options.  The index shows a 22-percent increase in total job openings posted in September1999 compared to September 1998.

A Makes-Sense Partnership
To fill 2,000 staffing position, Bell Atlantic will now be able to search through the rolls of State unemployment offices due to its new partnership with the U.S. Labor Department.

Lessons To Learn
The recent withdrawal of Levi Strauss & Co. from the e-commerce world comes as no surprise to some, naming the site's slow-loading pages, irrelevant graphics, and the inability for customers to find what they are looking for as the primary reasons. Levi's withdrawal shows how the customer experience is the key driver of success or failure in any e-commerce.

Personal recommendations of products and services is the new marketing-based platform of "beyond the banner" firm L90. Consumers will be given incentives to pass the word to other interested parties who will be given incentives to pass the word, etc. The firm filed for a $69 million IPO in September.

In a related story, PeopleLink Inc., has joined forces with Commtouch, Lipstream, and Well Engaged in an effort to increase visitor attraction and return to Websites by connecting people with each other.

You're Invited to Sign Up
The Technology Advisory Board, a worldwide group of technology professionals and executives are paid cash for their opinions and advice on surveys designed to shape the technology industry's decisions.

Magic Numbers
Professional employer organization firm, Employee Solutions secures credit for development and expansion to the tune of $20 million through Foothill Capital Corporation.

Best Practices
QDI Strategies' study highlights the differences between conventional wisdom and best practices applications on the business-to-business use of the Web.

The just-released CareerMosaic Index reports that job seekers on their databases are looking for a broader range of interests and job titles. While computer and engineering jobs are still widely sought, this survey shows that the Web is increasingly becoming mainstream.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Cheap But New

(November 01, 1999) Here's how it works:
  1. You browse through our job postings and find the positions that meet your criteria. Keep in mind that you should also meet the minimum requirements posted on the job!
  2. You apply for the positions that would be a good match for you.
  3. If you are offered and accept the position that you applied for the company will pay you $50.
With this approach, WorkInBoston.com has opened the door on a new generation of pricing and positioning. Though $50 is distinctly cheap, the core idea (that recruiters are going to share revenues directly with candidates) is spot on. The trouble is the targeting.

Just exactly who is going to apply for a job based on a $50 lottery style motivator?

While it is clear that the economics are shifting, the WorkInBoston.com model still reeks of the old days. Unwilling to bet on their own ability to identify and place candidates, the incentive is too low and too random. Send us your resume and we might compensate you (based on our ability to deliver interesting jobs) will soon be replaced by "please join our network, here are the incentives". Functioning more like the purchase of options, online services are going to compete for the opportunity to represent very specific candidate-clients.

While WorkInBoston.com sets an important precedent, it will be surpassed by better financed, more market aware entities. And, quickly.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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