Every day, I get the chance to talk to a lot of very interesting and passionate people. I end up talking to more recruiting and HR technology and service vendors than recruitment practitioners. You might think that I would start losing touch with the recruiting industry because of this, but I think the opposite is true. Vendors, now more than ever, are usually the most intelligent, informed, and vibrant people that you will meet. They are passionate about their products and about the recruitment industry.
The recruiter software and online recruiting media industry has always been an intimate marketplace. Although the market is large, the group of vendors and media players are a well-connected (some might say incestuous) bunch of folks. Everyone talks together at recruiting and HR conferences and even though there is a lot of competition, it’s a lot like one big happy family. That might be changing.
I’ve noticed a trend as I’m talking to people and doing market research on the emerging companies in recruitment and online job search. A lot of the start-ups are outside of the recruitment space entirely. More people approaching recruiters and HR as vendors are coming from consumer Internet companies and pure-tech backgrounds. These guys are dangerous; they have a fresh perspective, technological genius, and real capital. Their base understanding of the Internet is as a marketplace instead of as a vehicle for communication.
Pure Internet business is very different from the relationship oriented, cohesive approach that most recruiting vendors advocate. The Internet purists tend to rip apart the elements of software down to its core components. They can then market these components in a very different and more efficient manner. Internet marketing is about conversion, which requires high volume of traffic, which is in turn essentially a function of capital. Internet marketers think of audience and users as a function of spend, and a good number of them seem to have real money behind them. More of these new vendors are doing one thing well and then using their consumer Internet skills to market that software in a highly efficient manner.
The bar is not so much being raised in the service or technology level of the products; it’s a price point being lowered to limbo-levels. There is a good chance that there is a vendor offering a portion of what you are, except for free and with a few hundred thousand to spend on Google to promote that fact. It’s just something that I have noticed lately. I wasn’t around the space in the 1990′s and maybe this has all been done before. But it seems as if a sea-change is happening now. Keep small, keep focused, and don’t forget the Internet as a function of marketing. Also, if you DO come from the relationship side of the business and have deep ties with other vendors, make sure you are using your partnerships to your advantage. It is the relationships that you have that no one can easily replicate.