In a recent conversation, we were discussing the potential of the Web as a tool for finding the right person for an executive slot in a technology startup. There is little question that, in its current configuration, the Web is ineffective for this classic type of management search. We agreed that using job postings on any of the major job search Websites or the newsgroups would create a flood of the wrong type of candidates.
The Web is currently an ideal mechanism for finding and filling professional and technical slots. It falls down as a means of finding perfect candidates for critical slots. Or does it?
Seeing the Web as simply an aggregation of home pages for Recruiting Firms, Job Ads, Resume Banks and Corporate Recruiters is a very limited perspective on the technology and its potential. From time to time, we're as guilty of this mistake as anyone. The technology is powerful and new; the variation in design and approach make for interesting conversation. In each individual Website, there are examples of strength, weakness, naivete and sophistication. The real power may exist as a consequence of all of the Websites, however.
We get concerned, from time to time, about overly emphasizing the importance and consequence of Bill Vick's Internet Professional's Association (IPA). The IPA strikes us as an evolving harbinger of things to come, rather than a final solution. (If you're not a member, you ought to join!). The key insight that IPA brings to the party is that the Web is a tool for increasing the effectiveness of the industry as a whole. Besides the obvious benefits of information sharing, IPA offers a more profound opportunity. Information sharing leads to the formation of business alliances which, in turn, lead to better management of placements. The Web increases a Recruiter's access to other Recruiters and creates a synergy in the industry that geography used to prevent.
At the same time, the barriers to entry in the industry are dropping. Shawn's Internet Resume Center is a fascinating example of the transformation. Begun as a smallish Website of job related links and a few resumes, Shawn's has matured over 18 months to become a profitable Resume bank and placement center. Telling just who is a publisher, who is a recruiter, who is an advertiser or who is a job bank is increasingly difficult. And, it changes regularly.
In other, more centralized industries, the near term Web Shakeout is beginning to be noticed and commented on. The general sense of those forecasts is that the Web will retrench and become increasingly an internal function (behind the "firewall"). The very nature of Recruiting implies that the change will be experienced differently in our industry. We imagine that Web based recruiting will expand and that the IPA, or some similar, competing organizations will begin to deliver candidate information through the firewall. Pieces of these kinds of alliances are already in place in operations like OCC and JobWeb
Back to the original question -- is the web a useful tool for filling critical slots. It turned out that the four of us in the conversation had met through the web. While we were discussing the question, we filled two key slots with a series of phone calls and emails to other Web based associates. The opportunities and candidates would have never come our way if we hadn't been in the Webbed end of things. So, the answer, we decided, is yes though we never actually used a Website to accomplish the transaction.