- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2000

Rob McGovern would not mind seeing the unemployment rate grow to 5 or 6 percent.
That would mean clients of his Reston-based company, Careerbuilder, would have a larger candidate pool from which to draw. Careerbuilder runs a job Web site by the same name, and operates career centers on other sites.
But Mr. McGovern's company is thriving, even with unemployment hovering around 4 percent. He said Careerbuilder has grown at better than 100 percent annually for eight financial quarters.
His main competitors are HotJobs.com, Monster.com and Headhunter.net. While the first two have conducted extensive advertising campaigns, Careerbuilder has kept a lower profile.
Mr. McGovern, Careerbuilder's president and chief executive officer, said job-seekers' biggest challenge is to stand out in the current market.
"The good news about the Internet it's easy. The bad news about the Internet it's easy," he said.
That means candidates can get their resumes out to more companies, but also are competing with more candidates.
Q: HotJobs has certainly done a media blitz, with Super Bowl commercials.
A: Yeah, I think the way you'd characterize their strategy they have sort of a go-for-broke mentality. In a time when everybody's focused on driving their business to profitability, they seem to be one of the contrary players that's spending ever-higher amounts of money.
Q: And I guess that's not your strategy.
A: Well, we don't think it's necessary. We've got twice the amount of traffic they have on a far smaller advertising spend rate. The reason we're able to do that is we have this syndicate model that's much more viral in its capability. We view that it's a symptom of a less efficient business model in our space if you have to spend a lot on advertising. Instead of earning your audience, you have to go out and buy your audience.
Q: You mentioned that most companies are turning to being profitable. Where are you guys in that process?
A: We think we'll be the first profitable player in the market space. We're tracking very well to that, and I think when we achieve profitability it will be a very strong indication that our business model is much more sound than first-generation models.
Q: You partner with MSN (Microsoft Network) and they've invested in the company?
A: We have several big corporate investors. Microsoft is a significant investor, General Electric, ADP Corp., Thomson Corp. One of the things that makes us unique is that most job sites' strategy is to get all of the audience to come to their site. They do big advertising campaigns.
Our philosophy is, the people are already out at destination sites, so why don't we bring the jobs to them? So we have joint venture properties with major media companies to create job centers on their sites.
For example, there's a full career center on the Bloomberg service that's designed for the Wall Street community. So if you're looking for a job as a stock trader or financial analyst, Bloomberg's the place to go. Most people don't know, we actually run that.
Q: So it doesn't even have Careerbuilder's name on it?
A: That's right. It's an outsourced service that we do. Similarly, on the MSN service, which is the second largest portal now …
[Bonging sound and clapping.]
They just took an order. Our sales folks sit down the hall and when they get an order of a certain size they get to bang this gong.
… On MSN, within their portal, they have Expedia for travel, Hotmail for mail, and they also have the career center. We actually run that. Again, we're trying to tap into that MSN audience without having to bring them to our site. we just deliver the jobs to them.
Q: Is it pretty much high-tech jobs we're talking about on the site, or is it wider?
A: No, that's over. Three years ago it was white males with ponytails looking for jobs on the 'Net. But the last number I saw was 15 percent of our job site audience is technology professionals. Now to give you an idea of how much it's changed, it was 90 percent two years ago. There are more administrative people searching for a job on line now than there are tech people. There's probably just as many sales and marketing.
Q: Now what about on the employer side?
A: Our market's really evolved. Two years ago we lived in a part of employers' budgets called experiments. Last year, we were in the part called other. This year, we're in the part called e-cruiting. Just about every company of size has formally adopted that strategy. It's become really mainstream.
Q: Are there still people out there who can't get a job right now? I know anecdotally a few people trying to make a career transition. And if they can't find a job, what can they do? How can the Internet help?
A: Well, I think that there are definitely people who are out there looking for jobs. I think its usually the people that are frustrated are reading the headlines saying there's a 4 percent unemployment rate, and that basically says, if you don't have a job, you're dumb. I know it's a frustrating experience.
But most of those people are in some sort of transition stage. Someone might be, for example, an administrative person who wants to go into marketing or a salesperson who wants to become a computer programmer. If you're making an in-context change in the same profession, it's easier.
If you're changing from one profession to another, it's just as hard as ever. I think the thing that's where maybe people need the help. You rarely find someone that says, 'I'm an office manager who makes $50,000 a year and I want to become a journalist but I'm not going to look at anything less than $50,000 a year.'
Well, the reality is that new professions have different expectations. But also the fact is that most of your skills are not transferable. If they go into it and say, 'I want to be a journalist and make $25,000 a year and start over.' Those people are very employable.
Often the problem is that people's expectations are not in line with what they're capable of doing at that moment.
Q: Do you think people are now pickier in their field?
A: Within their field? The problem is, there's a story that Microsoft has, they're a client of ours and told us a story of a guy in the Massachusetts area who they were trying to recruit, some really smart guru. And this guy didn't want to move. And they finally got down to it and said, 'Why don't you want to move?' And he said, 'There's these three deer in my backyard every day and you know, this is really important to me to have this, I've lived with the flora and the fauna and all that stuff.' And they finally said, 'OK, we'll move the deer.'
The problem is, the average computer programmer reads that, and he or she has heard a story of somebody who's making $200,000 a year, they've read a story of somebody who's moved Bambi, and all of a sudden there's this expectation that 'I'm great, I deserve that.'
I often find that people come into the process with expectations that don't reflect reality, they actually reflect the anomalies.
Q: Are there any fields that are still resistant?
A: To the Web? They're becoming fewer and fewer. I would have said last year the legal profession. That they still were using conventional, double-parchment paper resumes. That's really changed. I bet we've added 10 legal customers in the last year. And so today I think it's pretty much across the board.
Q: Who are some of your biggest advertisers?
A: Folks like Microsoft, Pfizer, Compaq Computer, Oracle, Taco Bell.
It has really changed. Now you're starting to see people who are hourly workers, usually called nonexempt workers, that are now using the Internet to look for jobs.
Q: You wouldn't think they'd have a computer.
A: Yeah, you wouldn't but when you think about the Internet, I think we all think about the guru at home, but what we don't realize is that a quarter of the Internet audience is AOL's. And the average AOL user's demographics are … they're not computer experts.
Q: We talked about how employees use the Internet to get a job. How do employers use it, besides just putting their name up on the site?
A: I think companies are learning that they can provide information that allows potential candidates to make an informed decision. It used to be that they'd run a three-line ad in the newspaper, and one of those lines was EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) kind of thing. So people had very little information and you would get a whole bunch of unqualified people.
Now what employers can do is get the whole story out there, they can not only tell the story of the job but also the company and the management team.
I think they're viewing it as their most important recruiting tool.

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