A Sourcing Network on Steroids

For recruiters, sourcing is the hot topic right now. There is tremendous focus on social networks, Internet search, and employee referral as ways to generate quality candidates. Most organizations are struggling to find the volume of quality people they need to fuel their growth and ensure their ongoing success. A handful of tools have emerged over the past few years to make certain aspects of sourcing easier for recruiters.

Mostly these address ways to get at the hard-to-find, happily employed talent. These include Jobster and H3, which address referrals; ZoomInfo which provides an easy but powerful way to search the Internet for senior talent; and a variety of social networking tools such as LinkedIn that make connecting to people much easier.

However, no site does the whole job. Recruiters are learning ways to ferret out the silent candidates by using “stealth” Internet search techniques and, for jobs that are tough to fill, jobs are looking for candidates instead of the other way around.

For active job seekers, the primary way to look for a new position is to use the various job boards that have sprung up like mushrooms over the past decade. Increasingly, job seekers are augmenting these job-board searches by using corporate career sites and referral networks because they have found that their success in actually getting a job from a job board is low.

But something revolutionary is on the horizon. Conceived by visionaries and seasoned recruiting pros such as Hank Stringer and Jim Hammock of Hire.com fame, the newest and most exciting product I have seen in a while is Itzbig. It promises to be as game-changing as the early applicant tracking systems or job boards were.

Some Perspective

In the early 1990s, Resumix and Restrac (later Webhire) introduced the first applicant tracking systems. These were revolutionary and provided recruiters with an easier and more effective way to store and access resumes, as well as ways to track and manage candidates. They pioneered the use of keyword searching and optical character recognition.

I can remember when we first got Resumix at the company I worked for and how proud and excited we were with our new ability to actually find someone’s resume! Within a few years, most Fortune 100 and many Fortune 500 firms had purchased one of these systems.

Soon after, Career Mosaic and Monster appeared as tools for both the recruiter and the candidate. They provided applications designed to replace classified ads and to reach out to the rapidly growing group of Internet-connected people who might want to look for a job online. These tools revolutionized how people look for jobs and how we advertise them.

These tools fundamentally changed recruiting by harnessing computer power and the Internet. The hope was that the days of paper resumes, file cabinets of unread paper documents, snail-mailed applications, and Sunday mornings spent pouring over classified ads were over.

Supplemented as they are, by an increasing number of Web-based software tools, they have improved our ability to attract, find, market to, communicate with, screen, assess, track, and hire people for our organizations.

However, job seekers and recruiters are ready for something more. Until recently, nothing really fully tapped the power of the Internet or fully reflected emerging Web 2.0 concepts. Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Publishing defined what Web 2.0 means. These include such things as putting the user in control of his or her data, offering a service (not packaged software), designing the site for user participation, adapting the application to many devices including mobile phones and other media, and tapping into the collective intelligence of all users.

A Web 2.0 Sourcing Network

Itzbig is the first tool I have seen that has been built on these principles and offers both the job seeker and the recruiter an entirely new perspective on sourcing. Itzbig is designed as a sourcing network and mirrors the world of the recruiter and the job seeker. It puts the job seeker in control, provides anonymity and security, makes looking for a job fun, and taps into as many people and jobs as it can.

It is actually very hard to describe in words actually how Itzbig works. The simplest thing is to go to the website and try it out. It is anonymous and revealing. I have struggled with how to frame it so that you get a sense of how different it is, and maybe a scenario will help.

Suppose you are a software developer looking for a new job. You go to the Itzbig site. It will ask you for just three things: what kind of work are you interested in, where you want to work, and an email address so that the system can communicate with you.

Once you enter, for example, that you are interested in a software developer position in Austin, Texas, you will immediately see any jobs available in that area that meet your general interests. You refine your search by adding to your profile as much information as you want. This is actually a lot of fun as you can see in real time how many jobs you are qualified for and get information about what organizations are looking for.

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Perhaps you specify that you have expertise in Ajax or C-Sharp. Watch as the list changes dynamically as you add information. You can submit your name and address or choose not to until you are contacted by an interested recruiter. You are in control. Nothing is hidden. No one is lurking. This makes Itzbig attractive to the person just thinking about doing something different but perhaps is not ready to raise her hand.

On the recruiter’s side, things work just the same. You enter in the type of person you are seeking and then refine that with more details and specific needs and the list of candidates grows or shrinks accordingly. By doing this, you can get a good overview perspective of how many job seekers there are with a particular set of skills. You can do a rough market analysis of supply. This has never been available before.

At the same time, the candidate can see what the demand looks like for his or her particular skill set and interest. They can then adjust their expectations accordingly or change the focus of their search to better match the opportunities.

Itzbig is as much a source of invaluable data about the talent marketplace as it is a tool for recruiters and job seekers. Itzbig puts the user in charge and ensures privacy and anonymity as long as it is desired. It also incorporates the latest thinking about how people use the Internet. It offers flexible, personal, and dynamic control over your own information.

By using banner ads, print ads, interactive widgets, email, and more traditional sources, Itzbig is building a comprehensive network of talent. Using techniques honed over years as recruiters, they know how to attract talent that doesn’t traditionally use job boards.

For candidates, Itzbig will assemble job opportunities from a variety of sources, including job boards. As the network grows, it will attract more candidates and job openings, creating a rich mix of the two.

The company has chosen to launch Itzbig in local areas, starting with their home base in Austin, and spreading slowly out to Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. They have also chosen to focus on IT, initially, and their “quid pro quo” philosophy of giving information and control to both the candidate and the recruiter equally ensures they will be able to build a large network of talent.

They will be launching next in Silicon Valley, where things will get interesting. With a population of several million well-connected IT professionals, Itzbig could quickly become the most popular site for candidates and recruiters.

This is exciting stuff. We finally have an emerging service based on 21st century concepts. It provides candidates with a safe, fun, and informative search experience. It gives recruiters access to far more useful information than they have today.

I expect to see lots of competition emerge over the next few months. That is good. It will drive the evolution and bring much-needed usability and quality to the recruiting professional and the job seeker alike.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.


6 Comments on “A Sourcing Network on Steroids

  1. Having not used Itzbig my only comments are it sounds like Market10/JobFox redux.

    Not quite sure how it is ‘the first tool I have seen that has been built on these principles and offers both the job seeker and the recruiter an entirely new perspective on sourcing.’….as Mr Wheeler states.

    I guess time will tell. Maybe their matching algorithm is the best thing since sliced bread! I wish Itzbig all the best with it’s new product launch.

  2. Thanks John for pointing out that Jobfox has been successfully in this business for awhile. We have been getting tremendous word-of-mouth from employers and job seekers for our precision job-fit technology.

    We are already launched in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, San Francisco and Boston. More announcements to come.

    For those who don’t know, Jobfox began beta testing in D.C. area as Market 10. Now Jobfox, the company is led by Rob McGovern, the founder and former CEO of CareerBuilder. Many of the originial CBers are now back with Rob at Jobfox.

  3. Hi Kevin,
    I’m coming back into the business after 5 years as a consultant–had 3 kids, and my clients are somewhat ‘drawing me back’!! I’ve read ERE articles weekly during my absence, to keep abreast of what’s going on. I’ve always found your articles to be insightful, as are most from other authors on ERE.

    This one seemed a bit ‘zealous’ on your part and lacked the disclaimer I normally see on articles when a writer is commenting on a new site–that they don’t represent a companya s a consultant or investor. Do you, or anyone at your firm represent or are paid by this company in anyway?

    Seems that you an the Founders may have history, according to your article.

    I checked out Itzbig–the upfront payment is akin to everyone else out there in the job board space. I don’t see too much distinction from the old Market10 model either.


  4. You might be interested in a 15 minute interview I just posted on totalpicture.com with Jim Hammock. BTW, I have no financial interest in the company, but I do think they’re taking online job boards in the right direction.


  5. Thanks Mr. Clayton–my opoint is that authors kind of lose their ‘street cred’ when their isn’t a’ no financial benefit recieved’ disclaimer, which, unless Kevin Wheeler doesn’t read comments to his article, must be the case here.

    It’s a shame, I think it seriously devalues content here.


  6. Looks interesting. Trying to set up an account now. And yes, zealously promoted. I have a sneaking suspicion that I know exactly how the underlying technology functions, suffice to say that while the engine itself is probably very powerful and functional, the matching algorithms will only work as well as the data. So if you pull in lots of unstructured data from job boards, well…I’ll leave it at that. Curious to check it out — I’ll dig deeper and blog a formal review later (speaking of promotion…). Could be an increment better than many others.

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