Archive for the ‘Issues’ Category

Decline of the Teen Workforce” recently published by the Oregon Employment Department laments young people’s non-participation in the workforce. It notes employer concerns that work ethic, customer service, and communication skills add to their worry for those who do go to work.

The article is remarkable for generally failing to identify the underlying problems and suggests a set of possible fixes that may do more to aggravate the problem than fix it. It typifies “Boomer Thinking,” itself part of the problem.

Until area employers grasp the issue is not with labor supply per se, or its ability to deliver, but with how to find, attract, engage and retain a next-generation workforce, the going is likely to continue to be tough for candidates, recruiters, employers, everyone.

Developing strategies for intergenerational recruiting, using traditional and social media to create brands and communications that connect, deploying existing and emerging technlogies effectively, and managing workforce dynamics are some of the key issues being addressed at the upcoming Oregon Recruiting Roadshow.

This learning and networking event is provided for area employers at no cost to you:

Friday, June 20, 2008

8:30 am PT – 2:30 pm PT

adidas Corporate Headquarters
5055 N Greeley Ave
Portland, OR 97217

Join industry leader and analyst John Sumser and a fantastic line-up of experts on hand to answer your questions and more.

The day’s agenda, speaker profiles and easy registration are available online now:

The Oregon Recruiting Roadshow is made possible by the generous giving of our sponsors: Arbita [], ZoomInfo [], PCRecruiter  [] and, the official online community of the Recruiting Roadshow.

adidas are hosting the event and providing for your comfort.
If you have any special needs, questions, comments or concerns please contact us via email at recruitingroadshow (at) or call (415) 683-0775.

Don’t miss this event, invite your friends, and register today: You’ll be glad you did.


JobJacking Revisited

(January 17, 2008) From the beginning, there were ‘issues’. Vertical search engines (and gasp, big giant universal search engines, too) make their money by taking other people’s intellectual property and doing something with it. When Google ‘indexes’ your web pages, it is copying them into its database for its use. When a Job Board ‘scrapes’ ads from other job boards and corporate websites, they are doing the same thing.

Most people turn a blind eye towards this aspect of using the Internet. After all, the benefits outweigh the costs for almost everyone involved. It’s a polite version of ‘the ends justify the means’. There is an old fashioned word that describes using other peoples stuff without their permission. Two aspects of this issue are coming to the surface in the Recruiting Industry:

  • The ownership and usage of job descriptions and job ad content and
  • The ownership and usage of personal information

Between the growth questions in social networking software applications and business model adjustments in the Job Aggregator space, the overall question of data ownership is coming into focus. Interestingly, it’s never really framed as a question of ownership

Take a look at these bits and pieces. They provide the foundation for the next several articles.


John Sumser. – © 2008 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA


(January 15, 2008) Isn’t it weird that the labor shortage is happening in an explosion of data. It’s easier and easier to find information about people while it’s harder and harder to find them. The number of needles is declining while the size of the haystack is growing.

Isn’t that how it seems?

There are some pretty odd trends that amplify the problem.

  • The percentage of jobs that require advanced education is going up. The percentage of North Americans who get advanced education is going down.
  • In the face of a shortage, much recruiting focuses on the way a candidate looks rather than on performance. This is particularly true in intergenerational and interethnic recruiting.
  • The education system continues to prepare students for jobs in factories. The video game companies do a better job of preparing them for work.
  • Hiring based on credentials continues to vex both sides of the equation. Do you want someone with an accounting degree or someone who can do accounting? Credentials, which should be the last resort of a competent recruiter, are poor substitutes for a quality guarantee.
  • Inflationary pressures are driving turnover. It’s being reported as an increase in the unemployment rate.
  • The recession we are in is localized to housing and retail. Yet, companies with clear paths to increased growth and profitability are behaving like the recession is universal.

Now, more than ever, the most important piece of technology in your arsenal is between your ears.


(January 14, 2008) A great strategic plan is animated, rational and showcases the manifestation of a vision. It is a wonderful story with archetypal plot elements. It is a triumph of logic and reason over chaos.

Reality is never like that.

Reality is paradoxical, inconsistent, occasionally flat. It is rarely logical or reasonable. When reality resembles a great story, all of the BS detectors go off like car alarms after a small earthquake.

Seeing the future changes it.

Here are some of the pieces of the paradoxes. Notice the inconsistencies.

  • There is a labor shortage.
  • World population doubled twice in the past 50 years.
  • Population is declining in the top 50 Industrialized countries.
  • The population of the US will grow by 20% over the next 30 years.
  • The nursing shortage is global.

Part of the trouble lies with the old fashioned need to generalize for global media markets. When you watch something like Crossfire or the Daily Show, you come away with the impression that National and Global trends are directly applicable to local conditions. It’s the same paradox as the “Strategic Plan / Reality” problem. Many things that can be generalized at a National or Global level fall apart in a local context.

Pundits have an easier time of it when they sound like a strategic plan. They are more successful if they can persuade you that reality is coherent. When their stories sizzle and swirl, their wallets fatten.

Change is definitely brewing. Today’s daily links on emphasize ideas that are slightly out of the American mainstream. They seem to be coming our way. In a highly collaborative world, the hierarchy just doesn’t make very much sense.

John Sumser. – © 2008 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA


(January 07, 2008) The commoditization of friendship is just the next step in the development of prime real estate on the word wide web. Do you remember when ‘community’ meant a place with buildings and people or at least a sense of belonging? Can you recall talent pipelines full of people not data?

Language has not kept pace with the changes that come from and through technology.  The relentless marketing machine dumbs down experience in order to standardize terminology. It’s how strip mining works in cyberspace.

You might trace it back to the Clintons. Remember “Friends of Bill”? That was the term of endearment for the world’s largest (at the time) political Rolodex. Friends of Bill paid small fortunes to attend  Renaissance Weekends. Being a friend, in theis context, was more important than actually knowing Mr. Clinton.

Recently, I asked a fellow who I’ve met a couple of times, swapped email with a couple of times and am generally aware of in the industry to be my friend on Facebook.

He said:

Hey John,are we “friends” ?i know we “know” of each other virtually … but i was actually going to try and limit my facebook to people I actually converse with 1:1
wanna start that ?

I replied

I went to bed wondering about the same thing last night. I really value words/concepts like friend, network and community. They are getting sliced really thin. Community means mailing list. Network means database. Friend means record.I don’t particularly like it.Have you noticed, though, that there’s an interesting new category? I think of it as people who are aware of each other and should be friends?

If we needed to talk to each other, we just would. No intermediaries or networking required.

That’s what I meant when I sent you the invite on Facebook. We’ve known of each other a long time and would most likely pick up the phone if the other called. The difference is as simple as I’m responding to your concern rather than going “okay” and hitting the enter button.

That may be too thinly sliced for your tastes.

If I’m beyond your cutline, that makes perfect sense to me.

However you decide, it might be interesting for us to have a deeper conversation about the implications and limits of friendship online in various settings.

Is one setting different from another in Profound ways? (Can you have 89 Million connections on Linked in and 3 friends on Facebook with a straight face? Why?

Do the differences in setting make a difference in Recruiting technique, reach or research results?

Like that.

Thanks for provoking my thinking another notch and good luck.

What do you think?

John Sumser. – © 2008 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA


 (December 18, 2007) The Recruiting Roadshow dominated my attention during 2007. With highly successful events in Minneapolis, Atlanta and Dallas, there’s a ton of information to sift through as the model goes through a refining process. Here are the first half dozen of the emerging themes:

  • New Market: When asked, over 95% of Roadshow participants have never attended a national trade show like ERE, OnRec, Kennedy, IHRIM or HRTech. This is one of the most surprising findings. The regulars on the trade show circuit inhabit a closed universe. What’s actually happening in the trenches is other than you’d guess if you only follow the shows and the online stuff.
  • It’s Really Local: There are people working in the industry who are smarter, broader and more interesting than the standard crew of industry celebrities (myself included). They are working to solve Recruiting problems in their cities and towns and are only vaguely interested in national trends or generalizations. Local speakers generate much more enthusiasm and response than national speakers at local events.
  • Schwag is a Currency: One of my Recurring nightmares is that I am being chased by a Recruiter at a National Trade Show. She’s got a bag full of colorful giveaways (schwag). She wants me to stamp her bingo card so she can win the raffle. She wants my schwag but isn’t vaguely interested in learning more about me. People who have never been to a trade show value schwag differently. They think of it as a gift. It means more.
  • Local Leadership is Critical: Poor Paul DeBettignies. (His motto is “Blame no one. Expect nothing. Do something.”) The Roadshow he produced in Minneapolis (with lots of enthusiastic help) seems to be catching on. Independent of our efforts, the second Minneapolis event was executed flawlessly and very well received. This means more work for Paul. Building infrastructure is not a one shot deal. This will be an area of really big innovation in our 2008 schedule.
  • The Training Deficit is Killing Us: There simply is no broad based training available for the Recruiting Industry. There are, indeed, noble experiments and small institutions. The universe of working Recruiters (between 500,000 and 900,000) have extremely limited access to professional development. At the very minimum, 10% want more now. The Roadshow illuminates this need.
  • Cynicism is a Barrier to Entry: The timeshare sales mindset (fee vacation if you listen to an arm twisting pitch) sullies possibilities. Many participants were simply shocked to discover that there was no hard sell to be found. As word of mouth picks up, the reputation for a PBS style approach will gain traction quickly.

None of this means that trade shows are anything less than critical to the functioning of the industry. Sometimes, I have the feeling that I am holding a lit match in a massive cave. The question is how to reach a majority of the industry not whether one method is better than anothr. Roadshows and tradeshows are different things for different audiences.

John Sumser. – © 2007 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA


Road WarriorToday is the last day of Kennedy’s Recruiting 2007 Conference in Orlando. It marks the closing of the industry’s conference season which has seen the annual pilgrimage to SHRM, ONREC getting down in San Francisco, coast-to-coast gigs from ERE, and HRTechnology blowing hard in the windy city – again.

SourceCon made its debut in Atlanta while other “focus groups” gathered under their respective banners of exclusivity: Recruiting Excellence 2007 in Boston, The Fordyce Forum in New Orleans, the DirectEmployers Association whooping it up in Vegas, the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) dusting things off in San Antonio.

Road warriors like Don Ramer, Gerry Crispin, Joel Cheesman, Shally Steckerl, Kevin Wheeler, Lou Adler and an army of vendors, sponsors and assorted groupies will be heading home to gather round their Thanksgiving tables, many thankful for the fact that the circus is over, at least for this year.

The recruiting industry’s conference business is big business. In so many ways, it embodies the industry’s infrastructure and creates the channels along which ideas, innovation, favors, contracts and money flow. From the podiums, assorted speakers, pundits and industry celebs promote their reputations as subject matter experts and as sometimes saviors of the human race.

In workshops and forums opinions are formed, behaviors are influenced, best practices honed. Over hurried snacks or fine-linen tablecloths friendships are kindled and rekindled, relationships formed, forged and sometimes soon forgotten.

The network of vocal and visible people – the publishers, promoters, speakers, track leaders, commentators, vendors, sponsors and the lucky delegates who follow the circuit – each year consolidates its position as the industry’s core.

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John Sumser's Recruiting Roadshow

When recruiters complain that sourcing online fails to produce candidates who match the requirements and/or fit-in in other ways they echo the complaints of candidates who face similar frustrations.

Posting resumes on any number of job boards and creating profiles on any number of professional or social networks — being cut and pasted, searched, tagged, indexed and archived — simply means that recruiters have more pools in which to find more frogs to kiss.

The problem is this: Kissing frogs sucks.

Normally it doesn’t take very long to realize that some frogs are easier to pucker-up for than others. The more “baggage” the candidate has – on paper at least — the harder it is to kiss that frog.

For candidates, being treated more like a frog rather than the other half of happy-ever-after simply leads them to stay out of the water. Besides, the last thing this new breed of “quiet working professional” wants is to be kissed by an employer to find they’ve been lumbered with an ugly sister.

itzbig is the first network of its kind which allows these quiet working professionals to anonymously look around and see what opportunities exist without having to jump in and make a lot of ripples.

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John Sumser's Recruiting Roadshow
Hot on the heels of the announcement that Facebook and Microsoft have been canoodling — and making good on my promise to get smarter about using Facebook made on — here is a useful guide I hope other newbies might find helpful.

Josh Lowensohn who wrote the guide for Webware kicks-off:

What is Facebook and why should you use it?

Facebook is a social networking service that lets you connect with friends, co-workers, and others who share similar interests or who have common backgrounds. Many use it as a way to stay in touch after finishing school, or as a way to share their life publicly. What makes Facebook different from other social networks are its extensive privacy controls, its development platform, and its large and quickly growing user base. Facebook has been called the “thinking person’s” social network. Compared to many other social networks, Facebook gets new features and improvements on a regular basis.

Don’t get too comfortable. “Facebook gets new features and improvements on a regular basis” means don’t blink or you’ll log on one day and not know what to do or how to do it!

Just in case you’re hungry for more, from Robin Good there is Social Networking: A Beginner’s Guide To Facebook, another handy reference with some additional stuff to work through.