Archive for the ‘John Sumser’ Category



(December 31, 2007) I am back from a wonderful week of holiday activities. After a long session in the recording studio with family and friends, we all went to see some lively Gospel music in a remote roadhouse on Christmas eve. The whole group was drenched with sweat from all that dancing by the end of the evening. Two days of listening to the ocean crash below my window in Gualala, CA (on the Mendocino Coast) was the perfect frosting on a holiday cake.

I guess it was all about ears, feet and happiness. Listening, dancing and loving. It was a delicious end to a year of good old fashioned hard work. It was the perfect sweet ending to the first phase of building a new foundation.

The year began with a change in office space, the second in as many years. interbiznet, the company I founded many years ago, stretched to hold me in place. It was growing one way and I was headed in another direction. After a dozen or so years, I wanted a refresher course in the fundamentals of recruiting and the recruiting industry. Ultimately, I sold the company and no longer write for interbiznet.

I owe a great deal to Jason Goldberg and miss his disruptive presence already. Jason hired me to be the editor of last May. You might recall that it was a turbulent and noisy transition. Jason never flinched. His way of managing my role was to remain completely hands-off. That allowed to evolve into a simpler traffic generator than it had been. These days, the site gets about 50% more traffic than it did last spring.

I am looking forward to getting to know his replacement, Jeff Seely.

When Jason Davis (my predecessor and the founder of left, the difference was palpable. Jason is a master of web community development and online political intrigue. He is now ramping up a tremendous thing at the website. We speak regularly and he remains the best online community developer in our industry.

Over the course of the year, I have found Michael Kelleman’s work on the website to be inspirational. Michael (or Animal as he prefers) is the coordinator and host of one of our industry’s two great entertainment nodes. I religiously scan his RSS feed (the stories on the right hand side of the page). Michael has the pulse and direction of the industry in his hairy palm. He has assembled a great team of content producers.

Jim Stroud is other source of infotainment in our space. (Don’t miss his late breaking interview with John Sumser.) Jim is an all around nice guy. That makes him the perfect complement to Michael’s on stage persona. With his newly redesigned site, Jim is poised for real growth in 2008.

Joel Cheesman, aka Cheezhead, hit his stride in 2007. With the exception of some weird hang-up with Jobster and Jason Goldberg, Joel (maybe it’s just too many Js), Cheesman continued to set new ground for the industry. Cheezhead xtra routinely delivers smart commentary from the industry’s talking heads. Joel is on his way to becoming a publishing powerhouse.

With absolutely no prodding, Shally Steckerl became a major promoter of the Recruiting Roadshow. He has been really generous with his time and help.

Speaking of the Recruiting Roadshow, the Las Vegas event will definitely be held on the 27th of February. More to come.

See you in 2008.

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

(December 21, 2007) There are a lot of people to thank for this past year. Starting and building the momentum of the Recruiting Roadshow took a lot of effort from a lot of people. Shifting from my comfortable home at interbiznet took support and energy. Bearing up under the new scrutiny at took some patience and the muffling of two layers of duct tape.
A number of good friends fed me with a straws (through the tape) at the difficult times. It’s good to have and build friendship as a part of making a living. My work is colored by the people who nourish me with their stories about the recruiting world, their ideas about what it could be like and their hopes for bigger and better times.  
I’ve always been fortunate to have relationships with people who start companies. As an entrepreneur who thinks about strategy, it seems pretty normal to inhabit a world that mostly includes other leaders who build businesses for a living.
Over the years, I have seen a thousand good tricks for making things happen. This year, though, I may have been shown the ultimate trick. 
Steven Rothberg, you may know, is the hard working founder of Very, very few people in our industry work as hard or as persistently as Steven. Through sheer tenacity, he built CollegeRecruiter into the powerhouse it is today. Steven spoke at both the Dallas and Atlanta Recruiting Roadshows.
Somewhere along the line, Steven sent me a wonderful had written Thank You note. It was short, sweet and very thoughtful. I was astonished by the way it changed my perception.

As far as I can remember, it was the first time ever that I had received one. Writing thank you notes is part of the conventional wisdom about doing business. I assumed that it was theory from people with no experience until I got Steven’s note.

As you can see, I remember the note very clearly almost six months later.

Steven got me started. I’ve been following his lead and hand writing Thank You notes. What’s amazing is the effect it has on me.

Thank you, Steven.

John Sumser. – © 2007 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

Roadshow 2008

(December 17, 2007) This week, we are finalizing the Recruiting Roadshow schedule for 2008. The one certain date is the 27th of February in Las Vegas. I’ll be filling you in on that one shortly.The current confirmed cities for 2008 are:

  • Boston
  • New York
  • Minneapolis
  • Dallas
  • Silicon Valley

That means we’ll be picking four or five from the following candidates:

  • Houston
  • Phoenix
  • Indianapolis
  • Seattle
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • Washington, DC
  • Atlanta
  • Ft Lauderdale
  • Chicago
  • St Louis
  • San Antonio
  • Denver

If you are interested in organizing, hosting, helping, underwriting, sponsoring, please let me know (john at

Martin Snyder, whose company Main Sequence Technologies (PC Recruiter), was one of the sponsors of the Dallas Recruiting Roadshow, makes a number of key points in his latest piece.

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It’s really delightful to get solid upbeat feedback after one of the Roadshows. This note comes from Jesse Zimmerman from Credera:

Super performance today! You guys were top notch experts at delivering a highly informative set of messages.The topics were incredibly appropriate and masterfully unpacked. You guys know how to put on a show!!

As I’ve shared with others, if I had to sum up today’s event, I would put it into these three words, “Not enough time”. It was so compelling that I completely lost track of time. Next thing I know, we’re done and I’m still salivating for more. My only suggestion for the future is that you make this a full day event. The message is so critical and the timing so perfect that it’s worth shutting down life for a full day to experience the Roadshow in it’s entirety.

Specific feedback to the points you made today: Your insight into the evolution of social demographics was a confirmation for me that our world as we’ve know it is coming to a close. Personally, I’ve experienced the ideological and iconic blessing bestowed upon great leaders such as Vince Lombardi and Jack Welch. And I’ve never felt more violated as a professional; however, as of late, I’ve felt the walls of control begin to lose their footing. And I’m now starting to see the ripple effect of young blood emerging into positions of leadership. What I experienced today in your message was a revealing truth that a new society is being developed and that young generations are on a mission to break down the bondage that is felt within the hierarchical infrastructure of big business as we know it today. From where I’m sitting, that’s a great thing. I’m a sold-out proponent of change that offers opportunities for healthier relationships and it seems like the message of transparency is “Step One” to getting us closer to more appropriate communication and behaviors.

Thanks for sharing today. This is my first encounter, and I was pleasantly impressed with thought and research that went into your presentation.

Looking forward to crossing paths again 🙂

Thanks again and I can’t wait to implement these new tools into my daily operations.

John Sumser's Recruiting RoadshowJason Davis and Steven Rothberg managed to be in Dallas without ever leaving the toasty comfort of their snowbound homes in the north. (Jason lives in Toronto; Steven lives in Minneapolis.) Although the magic trick was spectacular, smarter people might have figured out how to be in Dallas without ever going to places where it snows routinely.

The Houdini like magic trick was orchestrated by Bill Vick, the fabled Internet Recruiting pioneer as a waxed, waned and demonstrated Web 2.0 in a presentation on Social Media. (Bill can be found here, here, here and here. He seems to only live online.) Bill has been building and contributing to the Recruiting Industry for a very long time. Bill received a special award for compacting his talk into a very tight space.

His presentation was a blend of skype based interviews and introductions to the art and science of Social Media.

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John Sumser's Recruiting Roadshow

As usual, talking with Hank Stringer was a joy. Founder of (now part of Authoria) and itzbig (the incremental, bilateral matching system), Hank is having a temporary tour of life as a disabled person. With broken heel, transportation trolley cart, laptop and zeal, Hank is going to be doing the networking exercise at the Dallas Recruiting Roadshow. (Have you seen the video?)

Hank and I share the view that the depth of the relationship between a recruiter and a candidate is going to expand. Hiring decisions are getting harder and more expensive (the labor shortage). The risk of a bad hire is growing (the economic environment). Where it was once possible to use the spaghetti test to see if a candidate made a good employee, the consequences of failure rule that approach out. (The spaghetti test is roughly “throw it against the wall and see if it sticks”.)

While most of the industry is focused on driving cost and cycle time out of the recruiting process, there is a separate phenomenon in the labor market.

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Labor Shortage 10

And rounding out our series, Here’s a smattering of the news and analysis about the labor shortage as things heat up…

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Labor Shortage 9

John Sumser's Recruiting Roadshow

Ira Wolfe is a relentlessly self-promoting fellow with a message.

The Perfect Labor Storm is fast approaching and The Perfect Labor Storm 2.0 is “powerful stuff – enough to make any manager gasp” says one reader, the best forecast you can buy to plan your employee recruitment and retention programs.

Aging workers, retiring baby boomers, rising health care costs, shortages of skilled workers, generational gaps, work ethics are just a few of the workforce demographic and socio-economic events that are colliding to produce the biggest shortage of skilled workers in the United States and many other developed countries. (Perfect Labor

Sound familiar?

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