Digging Into RecruitingBlogs.com v1.9

Did you see Jason's recent email highlighting the conversation Between Josh Letourneau and David Manaster? Josh's post is an attempt to build a conversation about the economic consequences of a downturn on our industry. David's rejoinders move the conversation off-topic and onto the differences between ERE and RBC.

Interesting topics usually breakout from the title of the conversation.

Our industry (including all aspects of the hiring process, both internal and third party/agency) comprises at least 750,000 people. Very, very few of them venture out into the open in online community (5%). Even fewer of them attend trade shows (1% or less). There is an enormous amount of room for a variety of ways to help people come together.

The focus of most event or community endeavors is to build a channel for communication between vendors and the marketplace. Each of the major entities takes a different approach and it is unlikely that one size will ever fit all players. Since the universe of potential members is so vast, competition is really a counterproductive way to view the market.

No one community can be all things to all recruiters.

Personally, I supported David Manaster's development of ERE from the beginning. I bought the first ad ever sold on the ERE network. I allowed him to use the term "Electronic Recruiting" based on his guarantee that he'd never compete with my operation (the Electronic Recruiting News). In the early days, we talked routinely.

These days, I'm working to help Jason find a comprehensive vision and make it real. It's a very reciprocal relationship (He sponsors the Recruiting Roadshow and has attended almost all of them.) From my perspective, the difference between the two has less to do with honesty (though I agree with Josh's view). It's really about leadership, age and agility.

In my development efforts, I am engaged in challenging and important conversations about intellectual property and its ownership. Publishing, events and community, the three elements of ERE, RBC and the Recruiting Roadshow. are evolving very rapidly. The tight-fisted hierarchy with all of its emphasis on control is giving way to a gentler more inclusive style.

Our business if full of people who opine without depth. I've recently heard really smart people say, without challenge, that someone else should always pay for the development of the tools that they use. When people only recruit for a living, they are rarely exposed to the realities of product development.

ERE is a venerable institution. It has served the industry well for a very long time. That is unlikely to change as long as it doesn't try to compete with younger institutions as if there wasn't enough ocean for everyone. It's a big ship that doesn't turn quickly or easily.

RBC is a set of experiments. Over the course of the coming years, it will mature into an institution. Right now, however, it has the flexibility of something young and new. It's a little speedboat gunning for the big waters

When David hijacks a conversation on RBC to protect his company's brand, he is demonstrating his own insecurities without really solving the problem. ERE is a leading institution and bears those hallmarks. It will never again steer like a speedboat.

Views: 110

Comment by Recruiting Animal on June 27, 2008 at 11:09am
Papa John, let's rumble. First of all, let me say that I would have written this up the same way as you did because I like a good fight too. But now that you've grabbed the role of trouble maker, you're forcing me to be the good guy just so I can be opposing something too.

Point #1. Your first line makes it sound like JD sent out a mass mailing about Josh and Dave's exchange. It sounds like a good idea since people love a train wreck but THERE WAS NO MASS MAILING.

Point #2. I don't know either Josh or Dave that well. But I like Josh Letourneau. He was a fun guest on The Recruiting Animal Show and he was nice to me in our personal conversations. And I like Dave Manaster too. My main conversation with him was a joint call with Jason and Anthony two years ago and he hit all the right buttons for me. I thought he was very diplomatic.

So, I don't think that either of these guys is mean or nasty. However, decent people often find themselves in conflict and Josh is obviously mad at ERE. He wrote:

"I don't post too much on ERE nowadays as I question the site's objectivity, propensity to allow members to be publicly blackballed, and the fact that I too often see people's ideas pulled from a post and then winding up in a 'feature article' shortly thereafter."

That's a pretty serious accusation so Dave would be at fault not to reply. And he did so -- like a gentleman, it seemed to me. He left his phone number so that Josh or anyone else could call him (and I did).

I don't see that as high jacking the conversation. Or taking it off topic. You can call me an asshole any day of the week and I'll publish it on my About page as a victory because I'm so happy that you're paying attention to me. But that's not everybody's cup of tea. So Dave has a right to protect ERE. And Josh has a right to complain about any malpractice he sees. However, I suspect that there is room for a rapprochement here. Though of course a fight would be more interesting for the community.

As far as Recruitingblogs compares to ERE on editorial policy. Rbc has been in business one year. Right now it's in a freewheeling period and it won't have any guidelines until the unconscious ones are challenged. And it's only then that we'll find out what they will be. But it has to have some. Are ERE's guidelines being followed fairly. Dave says yes, Josh says no.
That's probably something that can be examined objectively in the context of "What was censored?" and "Should it have been?"
Comment by David Manaster on June 27, 2008 at 11:11am
I appreciate the thought you put into this post, and I agree that there are some incredibly interesting and challenging changes going on in the intersection of media and technology that present many opportunities to build community. This site is the realization of one of those opportunities, and what you are doing with the roadshow is another.

As I said in my reply to Josh, RBC has a great future ahead of it. Far from thinking that there is not enough room in the ocean for two players, I believe that there will inevitably be dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of them, all contributing to the larger ecosystem of information. There will also be hubs of exchange within that ecosystem, and ERE will continue to be one of them.

One last thought: Josh's post contained his thoughts about ERE. He has every right to do so, and I responded to the content of the post. Isn't that what a conversation is about?
Comment by Joshua Letourneau on June 27, 2008 at 12:14pm
Hi, Dave, John, Animal, and All - I have to say that this is really good stuff. I mean, not that there may be a 'trainwreck' or 'firefight' or anything like that . . . although we all know that controversy gets eyeballs . . . and eyeballs virally lead to other eyeballs :) (That's as true in social media as it is print, television, etc.)! I mean, hey, I even watch the "Flavor of Love" when it's on because I know something crazy is about to happen!

I say this is good stuff because WOW . . . I have never seen what could really be an honest and frank conversation about all of our industry networks (no, never!) Will it be? Probably not . . . but it's progress (and for that, I give a thumbs up).

Now, in terms of me being "mad" at ERE - that's a little too far to the left. See, I disagree with many of the things I see over there (of which I've already named, not including censorship, the chilling of free speech, or the terms of agreement that basically suggest that anything we post on the network is then the network's property and no longer our own - yeah, no kidding!) Now, am I "mad" about those things? No, not really - like I said, I still go over there sometimes because there are some smart and 'cool' people I respect :) At the same time, I inherently understand that I'm stepping into a pool hall where there are cliques, 'inner circles', gangs, etc. . . . just like a prison (or, for the sake of argument, any other industry). Is there a chance I might get whacked over the head with a cue ball or pool stick for saying something against the status quo? You bet - in fact, I have some lumps that still haven't went away :) But I mean, hey, I take that that chance from time to time (although I spend more time over here for the overwhelming positive reasons I've stated).

See, I go for the content and ideas . . . which are from the minds of the people, not the network itself. [Isn't that the notion of "talent", the very bedrock of why we exist in the first place?] If I did have something to be mad about, it would be the email I got from a guy suggesting that "Marines are best kept in body bags - too bad you're not in Iraq right now." That's when I realized that it was time for me to open my mind up to new alternatives . . . and RBC's timing was perfect. To clarify, was it ERE's fault I received the mail? No, not at all. I mean, let's be honest - policing 50,000 members is nearly impossible. But it was enough for me to scratch my head and say, "Whoa . . . " See, that's what I call a harmful ecosystem, not one that has enough sunlight, food, and water to stimulate sustained growth (RBC prepped the ground with some Miracle-Gro for ideas, conversation, and industry progress).

Now let's take a moment to tie this into the intersection of social media and our industry itself (hey, we talk so much about social media and talent . . . why not talk about how social media has impacted our industry itself?). My take is this: Basically, what I've done is write a post on my blog hereand mentioned why I like one restaurant better over another. Then, the Top Chef of the other restaurant came to the table in my little grass hut (my blog) and disagreed. Am I right? Frankly, it doesn't matter! . . . It's only my opinion - an opinion that I posted on my blog. :)

See, a Top Chef of a restaurant can disagree with me that RBC's food and atmosphere are better all day long . . . but at the end of the day, RBC is going to continue 'getting my business' and I'm going to tell all my friends and family how great it is :) I know a Top Chef in Atlanta that keeps an eye on the "hot spots" and tries to incorporate the best ideas and practices . . . and I know another Top Chef in Atlanta that puts up a defensive barrier and rejects how another restaurant could be better. Yeah, there is enough business for both . . . but the "hot spot" can charge more and gets more press . . . in our day of Social Media, WOM is very, very, very powerful, perhaps moreso than ever before :)
Comment by Amitai Givertz on June 27, 2008 at 10:20pm
Aren't we overlooking something important here? In the final analysis RBC, ERE, the Roadshow, and all the emerging "communities" in this huge little space, are chasing the same sponsorship/advertising dollars. That matters too and I think has a bearing on the underlying tension being discussed here.

To the extent that competition for money will inevitably create economic, political, and ideological differences we might do well not confuse that with impassioned debate about content, editorial filters, platforms, personalities, preferences and touchy-feely stuff that distilled looks likes product differentiation and branding.

Social networks built on platforms like Ning are fundamentally problematic in that we are tenants paying rent to another set of commercial interests. They own the pipes, the platforms and, ultimately, the glue that holds our supposed friendships and networking together -- our profiles, our content, our creative-thinking and the piece of our humanity we sink into "belonging."

I think this debate is a muffler for a more provocative conversation that might be better served by questions like these:

1) Who's got the political clout [read: influence and access to vendors/audience] and economic muscle [read: cash and credit] cold ambition and street-smarts to affirm dominance [not to be confused with leadership or popularity] over time?

2) Does a web-enabled flattening of bureaucracy automatically unseat the "tight-fisted hierarchy with all of its emphasis on control" or is that one of the web-enabled hallucinations that come with smoking your own dope in forums like these?

3) If "No one community can be all things to all recruiters" is true how will the natural order of things be satisfied without a struggle by one to dominate the other and, in so doing, further its own political, economic and/or ideological self-interests?

4) Is 3) not already evidenced in the schism of HR and staffing, staffing and recruiting, recruiting and sourcing, sourcing and research? Or maybe this ongoing fragmentation parallels an ambitious market segmentation dreamed up in some vendors’ boardroom and propagandized by, dare I say, the likes of ERE? "

"No one community can be all things to all recruiters" - Cha-ching!

5) Doesn’t Josh’s comment “...but at the end of the day, RBC is going to continue 'getting my business' and I'm going to tell all my friends and family how great it is…” say it all?

6) More tea, vicar?
Comment by Amitai Givertz on June 27, 2008 at 10:27pm
@Josh

To your wonderful video and sentiments expressed, without diminishing that at all, I remember feeling similarly enamored with Recruiting.com.

Just a thought.
Comment by Amitai Givertz on July 2, 2008 at 8:59am
To my point about paying rent above, interesting and somewhat related notion from Chris Brogan: Strip Malls for Personal Brands.
Comment by Joshua Letourneau on July 2, 2008 at 9:24am
Ami, I appreciated your angle from an Economist's perspective - great stuff. In a way, it's as if an Economist can draw correlations to scarcity of resources (and competition for those resources, such as the Cold War we're losing to China . . . relative to their scourging the earth for nat resources in Africa.) In your case, I believe your theme is that any underlying tension may be due to competition for $$$ - I believe a subsequent argument would be that increased competition (or 'supply') creates aggressiveness relative to the resource we all chase - USD, Yen, Reminbi, Euros, etc.

If I may briefly deviate, let me suggest that my comments have nothing to do with competing for any $$$. In fact, my goal is to bill a cool million USD this year on the exec search side . . . with a nice half mil USD of margin coming in from Contract Recruitment/Strategic Sourcing. To that end, let me state that my comments are, at their core, about "content, editorial filters, platforms, personalities, preferences and touchy-feely stuff that distilled looks likes product differentiation and branding." In my estimation, the evolution from network to community (today's panacea of member involvement) is what some would call 'touchy-feely'.

When I say that I'm suggesting is that the viral component of RBC (and Ning) is the notion of community itself . . . if you were to envision a continuum, a high-quality content provider (HCI)would fall on the far left, yesteryear's notion of a 'network' wall fall toward the middle, while a community would fall more toward the right (Note: Bear in mind that I'm only presenting an x-axis for visualization purposes). Indeed, there will be a degree of cannibalization and redundancy (i.e. the same members joining all mediums) . . . however the notion of community is one around strengthening relationships and inciting deeper conversation.

Perhaps RBC only has 10k members while another medium has 50k and another has 500k. Are quantity of eyeballs the driver of advertising revenue? Or is the quantity of interaction(s)? Where does quality fit into the picture as well? As a business owner focused on different things, I can't answer those questions . . . but the answers would be enlightening from JD's, Dave Mendoza's, and your perspective.

P.S. I don't remember being enamored with Recruiting.com. However, let me ask: Are Raving Fans a good thing?

P.S.S. I'm looking at your line-by-line questions, but looked to maintain a stream of consciousness here :)

Talk to you later!
Comment by Joshua Letourneau on July 2, 2008 at 9:46am
Ok, Ami - looking over the line item questions. Before I continue forward, let me briefly comment on your notion that "this debate is a muffler for a more provocative conversation that might be better served by questions like these . . . " If I may, please let me suggest that it was the very 'debate' itself that led us to the path of going deeper with your questions. To create change and progress, you need to plant a seed . . . and if this debate can lead to an evolution and deeper dive (i.e. your questions themselves), then I'm all for debate. Debate challenges groupthink - debate is needed in a democracy - debate can lead to change - debate is fundamental to progress.

1) Who's got the political clout [read: influence and access to vendors/audience] and economic muscle [read: cash and credit] cold ambition and street-smarts to affirm dominance [not to be confused with leadership or popularity] over time?
A: With a lack of capital, all small businesses are under the gun . . . coming in from the blind position. Entrenched competitors, by their very nature, hold advantage in the way of politics (they've been around longer) and cash/credit. Note that cash/credit are slightly elementary, so let's term this 'buying power/economic power' instead. Cold ambition? I give the edge to the small biz owners/team as the wolf coming up the hill has to be hungrier to survive. Street smarts? That again is debatable - in my estimation, the small biz is closer to the 'street' itself. Let me also suggest that the notion of a 'community' is about being on the 'street' - 'street' members are encouraged to participate and engage . . . and street members see value in other street members as much as the expert articles themselves. (This reminds of me of Business School - I learned more from my classmates than the professors; well, 90% of the time, anyway.)
2) Does a web-enabled flattening of bureaucracy automatically unseat the "tight-fisted hierarchy with all of its emphasis on control" or is that one of the web-enabled hallucinations that come with smoking your own dope in forums like these?
A: I don't understand this question at this point. All that I can add is that I see more engagement and sharing on this medium than any other. I am seeing more of a matrix-style of leadership than a hierarchial command-and-control structure (at least that's the perception at the 'street' level). Perhaps I'm wrong.?.
3) If "No one community can be all things to all recruiters" is true how will the natural order of things be satisfied without a struggle by one to dominate the other and, in so doing, further its own political, economic and/or ideological self-interests?
A: In my estimation, competition is a good thing and I'm not a fan of monopolies and/or cartels. If I may suggest a counterpoint, however, I'd like to say that the winners of today's/tomorrow's economy will be those companies that fill a gap in the market; a hybrid value-proposition, if you will. I'm suggesting a Cirque du Soleil winning over a Movie Theatre, Broadway Show, or Circus, etc.
4) Is 3) not already evidenced in the schism of HR and staffing, staffing and recruiting, recruiting and sourcing, sourcing and research? Or maybe this ongoing fragmentation parallels an ambitious market segmentation dreamed up in some vendors’ boardroom and propagandized by, dare I say, the likes of ERE? "
A: Can you post this question on your blog? This is worthy of its own forum.

"No one community can be all things to all recruiters" - Cha-ching!

5) Doesn’t Josh’s comment “...but at the end of the day, RBC is going to continue 'getting my business' and I'm going to tell all my friends and family how great it is…” say it all?
A: I don't know how RBC is growing, so I can only speak to myself. I tell every recruiter that I know and respect to come here - most have no idea this community even exists. If every Raving Fan did that here, membership would balloon for the right reasons - community.

Great questions, Ami - looking forward to your thoughts and ideas :)

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