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Happy Holidays from John Sumser
and the Staff at interbiznet.com

Is That A Recruiter In Your Pocket?

(December 23, 1999) Shades of Mae West.

The growing sense of momentum at Personic is pretty astounding. From a sleepy small presence only a couple of years ago, the company is blossoming as a real participant in the market. While last decade's market leaders in the applicant tracking industry are struggling with ethics, identity and financing, Personic (once named EZAccess) is cleverly and effectively moving upstream. Their products are integrated, sensible, comprehensive and innovative.

Take EZPocket, for instance. The modular add-on to Personic's core offering gives Recruiters the ability to work from a Palm Pilot. Much more than a gimmick, EZPocket is the first product we've seen that begins to grasp the real changes going on in Recruiting. It is critical, in a market driven by decision time, for Recruiters to have instant notification of the availability of the right candidate. It's quite surprising that there are no other observable remote real time access services.

Face it, the Recruiter's life is increasingly going to be road bound. The way that transactions get closed is by face to face interaction. As the competition intensifies (and you ain't seen nothing yet), "house calls" to sign a critical prospect will become increasingly normal. The discriminator between success and failure in Recruiting is starting to be the willingness to go to the candidate. EZPocket makes it possible to carry workload with a constant stream of updates.

Our hats are off to Personic for being the first to "get it".

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Sales-O-Phobia (Drop The Chalupa)

(December 22, 1999) Here's another idea...make your system so human-proof that it will automatically generate revenue. With the right technology, customers may never have to interact with a human being during the transaction. If there's any chance that salespeople will be required, claim to be developing a "revenue positive referral network". When asked why your business plan has no sales cost associated with it, tell potential investors that you are going to "monetize the relationships" once your branding program is secure.

Really, "monetize the relationships".

Somewhere along the way to the higher consciousness of the web revolution the salespeople got cut out of the equation. It's too bad, we think. Without salespeople, we have the hardest time imagining how money comes into an Erecruiting endeavor. But, since the press has delivered its latest dose of "billionaire fever", it seems that technologists have discovered the holy grail. We see tons of business plans that simply have no meaningful sales function.

It's sad, to be sure, that the noble technocrats have to lower themselves to walk with the sales folks. It's sadder still that 20% commissions mean that 25% of operating capital goes straight to sales salaries. When you add benefits, perks, marketing, advertising and sales management, it's not surprising to see 50% of revenue headed towards the non-technical folks. It hurts right in the pocket protector.

And that's before you add the "project managers", administrators and customer service personnel. Why, a wild-eyed technologist, dreaming of Bentleys, could end up with less than 10% of revenue with which to fondle his/her dreams. Maybe it's not such a bad thing.

Sales-O-Phobia is our name for the myopia that seems to be at the heart of the unreasonable belief that the web is about technology pure and simple. Somehow, the "we're going to revolutionize recruiting with a one-size-fits-all solution" folks have forgotten that the web is primarily a communications tool. While books and CDs can be sold with little human interaction and only 25% of transactions failing, jobs and careers require humans throughout the deal. It all starts with sales and customer service.

If there's a salesperson in your organization, drop the technical Chalupa and make sure to wish them a Happy Holiday season. They provide the food that you eat. If you don't have one, put it at the top of your Christmas list.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Portle Schmortle (Here Portle, Portle)

(December 21, 1999) Here's an idea...be all things to all people. It's a guaranteed loser on all fronts and the best single way to ensure mediocrity. Then, make the claim that people have become unnecessary, henceforth replaced by the Internet. Then, work hard on the graphic look of your "home page" (brochure), making certain that the complexity is overwhelming. Finally, wander the planet proclaiming your own personal brilliance, looking for "funding".

Although we shouldn't be, we're amazed at the depth of the naivete that surrounds the Internet. Blinded by seven forms of Billionaire fever, it looks as though emotional maturation (and common sense) have been set back several years in many of the wannabes. Somehow, a pile of wires, some computers and a router (which we thought was the thing you used to cut a channel on a piece of wood) has become a substitute for delivering results and building relationships.

Finally, the press is starting to notice the failure of the "portals". As we've been saying all along, building a loyal audience requires focus and the delivery of real changing value. (The directions to our office provided by Yahoo contain two errors that get everyone who uses them lost!) The current incarnations of Portle City (as demonstrated by Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Lycos, AltaVista, Excite et al) leave so much to be desired that a reinvention seems unlikely (though it won't be a shortage of money that drives them under).

We think it's simple. There's only room in the world for a couple of K-Mart, WalMart, Target operations. The rest of us have to identify an audience and get to work. The principle is "scalable" (it works on a variety of levels of size and shape). Delivering predictable results to a specific group is the essence of building a business. The trick is clearly identifying the group and consistently delivering on your promise. It's not about automated features, it's about solving problems.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

Talent Auction Overview (From the Vault)

(December 20, 1999) Talent Auctions are the rage. We got a whiff of the current Economist article and started digging. "There's a bull market for talent, and we're all in it." So goes the line in Fast Company's recent piece. USNews is reporting on 'contingent workers'. Free Agent Nation (learn everything you need to know to make it as a free agent) documents the skillset. (Sign up for the FreeAgent email newsletter.) Temp 24-7 tells the grumpy inside story. Freelance New York gives the local angle. Fortune weighs in with Auctioning Humans. NetSlaves chronicles the horror stories.

It's still very early and hard to tell the auction houses from the outsourcers and the outsourcers from the Application Service Providers. Nonetheless, the market is growing fast.

Examples of Talent Auctions

Take a look at the list of online auctions at Yahoo. Although Idealab has yet to deliver an offering, a look at their portfolio of companies would suggest that they are heading in this direction. Michael Ovitz isn't far behind. Excite Classifieds (with its mammoth distribution network and auction sophistication) is sure to become an active player.

Auctions are coming, make no mistake about it. They are a much more efficient way to deal with the transaction between employers and contractors. As of yet, there is no significant momentum, but it's just a question of time. To learn about the more mainstream product auction sites, try

In particular, imagine a meta-auction site for employment based on a skills profile. The Internet Auction List Referral Tool is a great model.

For employment auctions to really make sense, the auction companies are going to have to adopt many of the practices of the Great Temp companies. Key to success will be solid background and reference screening. Guaranteeing that the work will get done is an additional critical question. So far, most of the endeavors are simple technology plays. That puts the Checking and Screening companies (like Avert) in extremely interesting positions if they can solve the liability problem. As usual, market adoption will be a function of lawyers, insurance and marketing, not the technology.

If you're scoffing, remember MBA Free Agents, the first web based service in this arena. The firm is consistently breaking new ground in the definition of what work can be accomplished on an interim basis. Clamping an auction on their backend would be a simple chore because they have worked the rest of the details out. For staffing firms, integrating auctions with their core expertise may be the only solution for their valuation dilemma.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

The end of the year is proving to be a hectic time for us here at interbiznet.com. The research staff is putting the finishing touches on all the charts, graphs, and captions that round out our annual Electronic Recruiting Industry analysis, the 2000 ERI. John Sumser is ensconsed deep in his bunker, focused on the final editing of this project. As the deadline looms and consumes our time, we present a 'Greatest Hits' assortment of John Sumser's Electronic Recruiting News articles.

Those of your concerned that John may be chained to his desk need not worry, as occasionally he is released for short, supervised walks. He will be slipping his insights into ERN articles as time allows over the holidays: barring the Apocalypse, there is no way to stop him. We appreciate our loyal customers in bearing with us as we present some of the best of John's articles from the recent past. Informative, pertinent, and well worth a second look. Thank you - and have a happy holiday season!

The Staff at interbiznet.com

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