What Do You See Happening? Thoughts on 2001.

As we come to the end of another year, and the first of this century, it is perhaps wise to take a few moments and ask ourselves what is different today from a year ago. Last year I wrote a column around this time that predicted some things that would occur this year. Here are the key points I made in that article: The first point I made was that everyone would use the Internet to look for a job. And I think this has happened. The job boards have grown in size, in number, and in type. There are broad-based sites such as Monster.com and focused sites such as Techies.com. And, there are sites like FlipDog that scrap job listings from all sort of corporate websites and present these to candidates. Generally surveys show that almost all candidates use the Internet at some point in their job search, and I think I could say all recruiters use it to some degree to find candidates. The large number of job boards and their increasing specialization make it very hard for them to be profitable. While it is critically important for them to build a nationwide image and brand, only one of two of them has any wide name recognition. I think that over the coming year many of these job boards will merge or be acquired or just quietly disappear at it becomes more important to make a profit. My prediction for 2001 is that by this time there will be only 1 or 2 nationally known job boards and a handful of regional and specialized boards left. Everyone will use them and they will have added more services to their basic offering. Some of these added services may include interviewing help, skill assessment, career advice, and applicant tracking services for recruiters. What do you think? I would love to include some of your thought and comments in a future column. My second prediction was that organizations will build exciting recruiting websites. On this I was almost dead wrong, unfortunately!! What I have seen this year is an increase in “good” websites and a broadening of the companies that have recruiting websites. All of this is for the good. However, to be effective a website has to be a tool for selling your organization to a candidate and it needs to have the ability to continuously communicate with a candidate or potential candidate and build an ongoing relationship. Of all the organizations I survey, only a few have built a really exciting site. A few good sites include The Boston Consulting Group, Federated Department Stores, Texas Instruments, and Goldman Sachs. My 2001 predication is that websites will continue to evolve and become more relationship- and sales-oriented. Do you agree? Are there any great sites you would like to submit? My third prediction was that even small companies would find themselves looking for ways to organize and track the resumes and other information they collect about candidates. On this I was absolutely correct. But, the vendors to service this need are fragmented and none offers a completely satisfactory solution for most organizations. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> We evolved over this year from the client-server systems (which are dead) to the ASP (Application Service Provider) model where you, in effect, “rent” software for a period of time from a vendor. This way you save the cost of purchasing and installing a client-server system and get the benefits of continuous product improvements. The best system at the beginning of 2000 was probably Personic Software. While it is still an excellent product, it failed to move to the client-server world as fast as others and lost strength because of that. The systems that are emerging include PureCarbon (formerly Intralect), Hire.com, Recruitsoft, and Brass Ring. Of course there are many small firms with good solutions for smaller organizations, and there are many hybrid systems that are hard to categorize. In fact, even the ones I mentioned are all different and are far from the traditional applicant tracking systems we used to know. My prediction for 2001 is that the mess will continue for most of the year with some winners emerging toward the end of 2001. The winners will be those systems that have gathered a significant client base and are profitable. Everyone else will either be acquired, merged, or on their deathbed. I believe that one or two of the ones I have mentioned will be the winners as it is really too late for newcomers to get into the act. What do you think? Why am I right or wrong? And my final prediction was that there would be a continuing move away from the traditional resume to the use of tools that verify skills, build relationships and screen candidates for specific abilities and competencies. Again I was on target but perhaps a bit premature. This trend seems to me to be the biggest one for 2001. Many organizations are now adopting screening tools and retooling their websites to do more screening for them. The vendors are getting better, too, and offer a lot. Take a look at epredix.com, Brainbench.com, Reviewnet.net as examples of how screening can become an integral part of your selection process and your web site. Well, that’s how I wrap up my last year predictions. I will have some additional predictions for 2001 in a future column and I’d appreciate your thoughts and comments. I will incorporate as many of them as I can into that column. Hope you are having a great holiday season!

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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.

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2 Comments on “What Do You See Happening? Thoughts on 2001.

  1. Kevin — Always look forward to your perspective and views. It is obvious you have been through more than just a few iterations. What’s ahead — consolidation, shake-out, more outsourcing, demand will tail off (continue), and by mid-year things can get back to normal.
    Thanks for your keen insight, intellect, and WIT!!

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  2. Hi Kevin! (And ERE)

    I would like to comment on your insightful past and future predictions as we
    enter 2001. The basis for my comments has to do with the need for looking at
    things in new ways.

    >>>> I think that over the coming year many of these
    job boards will merge or be acquired or just quietly disappear at it
    becomes more important to make a profit.<<<<< Monster.com is definitely gobbling up the recruitment advertising industry, as well as the recruitment industry. But that is their business model to maintain their core business competencies, and they do a very good job at that. However, I believe there are other functions that job boards can serve, if the central focus to make a profit is set aside. What about including job boards as value-added services, rather than as the main service? For example, look at online learning portals. Just as Universities offer career development services to its students to find jobs afterwards, why not apply a similar scenario to enhance a complimentary - not competing - service? It may or may not become a profit center, but it adds to the entire value bundle. I believe there is still tremendous value in the niche, or industry-specific job boards. I know this because most of my constituents are job seekers who share their frustrations and anecdotes with me. In a free-agent job market, job seekers are not so much interested in *THE* company as they once were. They are more interested in how they fit into an overall career path, and then what companies offer the kinds of jobs that will support that career path. Companies have to really start taking a hard look at how they recruit in this regard. In today's unstable job market where companies themselves do not know if they will be in business from one year to the next, I truly believe that the context of recruiting really has to change. One area that I see a need for is to have no "recruiters" but "career brokers." It is almost like having an agent if you are an author or an actor. The value here is that the employer will hold independent career brokers and the talent they offer in higher regard because they know their clients - or job seekers who retain them. There is more need for this now as temporary and contract work becomes a way of life rather than the exception. I really believe it is all about context....contextual selling for a lack of better words to explain what I am trying to say. >>>>My prediction for 2001 is that by this time there will be only 1 or 2
    nationally known job boards and a handful of regional and specialized
    boards left. Everyone will use them and they will have added more services
    to their basic offering. Some of these added services may include
    interviewing help, skill assessment, career advice, and applicant tracking
    services for recruiters. What do you think? I would love to include some
    of your thought and comments in a future column.<<<< I think the way to view "added services" should bundle career services as an entirely separate function, rather than splitting them up as skill assessment, career advice, etc. I think if job boards want to really profit, they need to become full-service from the get-go. Otherwise fragmentation occurs in service offerings and branding is diluted as a result of this. >>>>My second prediction was that organizations will build exciting
    recruiting
    websites. On this I was almost dead wrong, unfortunately!! What I have
    seen this year is an increase in “good” websites and a broadening of the
    companies that have recruiting websites. All of this is for the good.
    However, to be effective a website has to be a tool for selling your
    organization to a candidate and it needs to have the ability to
    continuously communicate with a candidate or potential candidate and build
    an ongoing relationship. Of all the organizations I survey, only a few
    have built a really exciting site. A few good sites include The Boston
    Consulting Group, Federated Department Stores, Texas Instruments, and
    Goldman Sachs. My 2001 predication is that websites will continue to evolve
    and become
    more relationship- and sales-oriented. Do you agree? Are there any great
    sites you would like to submit?<<<< I don't think we will ever consistently see a significant growth in organizations building exciting Web sites because of time and money constraints. But what I do see is the NEED for more firms to address that need on behalf of an organization. There is still a wide gap in Web design and Usability in terms of promoting relationship building. It might be a cool technology to send an auto response to an applicant who has posted his/her resume to another really cool resume database, but to the applicant, that is exactly like getting a postcard in the mail that says his/her resume was received and is now on file. Yucko. Online, there is so much more potential to step beyond that kind of old-fashioned thinking. What if a scenario went like this: "hi! thank you for submitting your resume. While we are reviewing it, please feel free to speak with one of our employees who has volunteered to talk to you and answer any of your questions you may have about our company.....etc." The company I think that does a GREAT job using a similar approach to this is Cisco.com. Take this one step further and you get your employees involved in the process not only through an employee referral incentive, but it re-injects new excitement into their existing jobs as they share their experiences with interested candidates. The possibilities are endless. Now that is cool! >>>>>My third prediction was that even small companies would find themselves
    looking for ways to organize and track the resumes and other information
    they collect about candidates. On this I was absolutely correct. But, the
    vendors to service this need are fragmented and none offers a completely
    satisfactory solution for most organizations.<<<<< And I don't think this will ever go away either. Because change is inevitable. I was at a meeting yesterday where I was asked if I would like to help package a "product" by putting a career vignette on a CD-ROM that could be sold. I declined for the simple reason that we are no longer a product-based economy, but a service-based one. By the time that CD-ROM is packaged and sold, it is already outdated. A better approach? Have an online portal site that lets you customize what YOU want to put on that CD-ROM. You're selling the service of providing a choice of content and the by-product is the CD-ROM to store your choices on. Some of the online music vendors are letting customers make their own individual music CD's which is so cool. I know from talking to a local bookseller in my area that sells used software, they won't take it unless it comes in the original box - consumers want that packaging. Well....send online consumers t-shirts with your logo on them instead to get past bulky and cost-innefictive packaging. The affiliation becomes more important than the package - it becomes a relationship. I think Amazon.com does a great job of this (I love getting my coffee mug from them each year at Christmas time ).

    This is how resume distribution should work. Whenever you try and create a
    product that is all things to all people, all of your entire business
    efforts are directed at selling the product to the consumer, and NOT meeting
    the needs of the consumer who could care less about the product. Why not
    provide a resume distribution hub where recruiters and organizations can
    customize their needs – online? “My resume distribution service”? Some
    vendors are trying to do this. But too much attention is paid on the brand
    and not the service. Although they are interdependent, I believe service
    comes before the brand; I know this contradicts brand-minded pundits. But
    without service, your brand cannot be supported.

    Here’s a BIG stretch: what if you let candidates create their own ideal job
    descriptions, and recruiters create jobs within the context of their
    organizations to fill those positions? Whenever I have students introduce
    themselves, I have fun with them by asking them to tell me about themselves
    within the *context* of their ideal job.

    Happy Holidays everyone! And thanks for this wonderful resource. One of the
    best.

    Rebecca Smith, JCTC, MS candidate
    Author, Online Educator & Producer
    Rebecca Smith’s eResumes & Resources
    Electronic Resumes and Online Networking (Career Press, 2nd Ed., 2000)
    The Unofficial Guide to Getting a Job at Microsoft (McGraw-Hill, 2000)
    Web: http://www.eresumes.com
    A Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine Gold Star Site for Best Resume Tools and
    Tips

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