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Amitai Givertz

Great post, Jason. Worth reading twice.

Penelope Trunk

Jason, I like the meta-ness of this post. Particularly, the question of why bloggers don't more publicly question Jobster's business model.

I have noticed this in other cases, too. For example, Seth Godin calls himself a blogger but does not accept comments on his blog, specifically because he does not want to have a conversation. Privately, high-profile bloggers I have interviewed think that's ridiculous and he should stop calling himself a blogger. But only TechCrunch calls him on it.

These situations seem similar to me in that blogsphere is so based on networking, community, linking, etc., that it seems to me that a lot of (business bloggers, for one) are loathe to dis key players. I think TechCrunch can say what others only think of saying becasue the strength of the TechCrunch community and traffic gives them more leeway.

martin snyder

Some solid points but you miss a key dimension of a blogswarm.

Where is the motivation for any individual blogger to post about Jobster before the swarm ?

All one would do is make themselves an enemy of Jobster for no good reason; an easy target whose credibility and standing could be knocked around with no trouble.

But in the context of the swarm, its easy to speak your mind about them because everyone else is, so YOUR standing and credibility are not the focus, THEIRS are.

I'd consider that basic human nature.

Re: Your 5 elements. I would consider that your capacity to create and/or exploit talent one inside your organization vis a vis competitors is also a key driver.

Jim Durbin

The recruiting blogosphere, as it is, has made many plenty of comments about Jobster - but that was 12-18 months ago. I believe most of those comments revolved around not knowing what Jobster's business model was.

But I think most of the blogosphere likes Jobster because they've done a great job of reaching out to blogs.

And our concerns focus around recruiting, and the new technologies we use (and of course, navel-gazing), not the speculative gossip that was the common in the dot-com era.

Jobster isn't closing its doors - it still has piles of cash, and they have a lot of revenue coming in. If they were already public, everyone would be rushing to buy their stock.

The question of what they do might best be answered with the question, who is better prepared to teach companies the next wave of recruiting technologies?

More on my blog.

Zoe Goldring

Right on Jason - this is a great post! I think there are very few people willing to critically evaluate the players in the recruiting services industry for fear that their opinions are "unpopular" and they will turn away their audience. The actual facts indicate that more people are probably feeling the same way you are and would welcome a refreshing opinion on the industry.

Overall it's a failure in the recruiting blogosphere - this idea of being transparent and intellectually critical. Hope your post prompts more people to question then to blindly accept what is given to them.

Recruiting Animal

Jim is right. There were comments about Jobster but they appeared last year and there were not many. If I recall correctly, Heather wrote about them, as did Steve Fogarty and maybe Gretchen as well when they were considering using their services.

In many ways, Jobster did reach out to the blogging community but they never offered a test drive to the mass of bloggers. Maybe because we're not their market. As a result, we don't have much of a basis for discussion.

(Yesterday, Vin Dieselevey took me for a tour on Bountyjobs.com so I can speak about it because I have an idea of how it works and questions too).

John Sumser, as always, can be counted on to speak out and he and JGo have locked horns in the past. With a kiss and hug at the end of course.

Penelope, I agree that blogs are conversations but I don't think comments are essential. I read a political blogger who doesn't have them. Her site has the look and feel of a blog and I never doubt that this is what I'm reading.

And in fact, blogs in the recruitosphere have very few comments. Does that mean that our websites are not blogs?

Recruiting Animal

How can a conversation have no comments?That's a Koan. You have to be enlightened to figure it out. (PS: Godin does accept trackbacks so you can comment on your own site).


I find this event and discussion to be uncovering numerous ironies.

Penelope and Martin, one of the key tenants of the blogosphere that is being espoused (by me also) is that it creates transparency, and my attempt in the post was to point out that with Jobster it hasn't been transparent very much at all. So we talk about transparency, but then the PEOPLE behind the blog shy away from that transparency for fear of creating tension or ill will with others. It's an interesting paradigm I think, and worth watching. So on one hand, you have people writing 'whatever is on their mind' (a la Brazen Careerist or my recent bemusing on motorcycling) but then shying away from articulating thoughts that might be controversial. It's an interesting dichotomy for sure, and surprising I guess.

I would ask "Why would people be concerned with being an enemy of Jobster?" If one presents their ideas in a way that is exploratory and productive (ie, not disparaging) that should lead to better overall discovery. I certainly wasn't tring to be disparaging of Jobster, or create enemies. We all have opinions, and we'll never have all the facts (but some may have more than others).

Another irony is that those that are truly open and critical (Sumser, Sullivan, Wheeler, et cetera) may not be the best positioned to cast a vote: Their opinion may matter, but none are practioners. Technology like Jobster has to be theoretically sound, but also work in practice.

With regards to Seth Godin, I think it's a bit semantic. People blog for different reasons that are far ranging. For example, many are concerned with SEO and getting traffic to their site, but that doesn't drive me as my reasons for writing are much different than many other bloggers. I'm not so sure I agree with Keleman on the Koan theory, as I suspect Godin's reasons are grounded in more practical footings.

Jim, I disagree with your assessment of Jobster, and I don't believe that everyone would be rushing to buy their stock, which in a way is the point I was trying to make: I actually think many have concerns (and have had concerns) over the problems they are trying to address and the execution of their solutions, but they just aren't saying it.

Which, per my post, is both ironic in light of 'radical transparency' and unfortunate for everyone (Jobster, their people, customers, and Goldberg included) because everyone usually does better when grounded in actual reality and facts.

Thanks for the great discussion.

Jim Durbin


My comments on stock meant for most companies - when they do layoffs and go for profitability, people go to buy the stock.

As for the technical side - I haven't used the Jobster service myself, so you're in a much better place to judge the service than I, but I think they have done a real good job with the blogosphere, and their recent postings on the layoffs show a willingness to be open that Web 2.0 companies were supposed to embrace.

There are a lot of ironies when it comes to transparency - but that's because the definition of the word doesn't really measure up to our expectations for blogs.

There is a subset of bloggers (I jokingly refer to them as Communists) who feel that a company that blogs should be forced to open up everything from the salary levels to the board minutes when asked. For them, transparency is, well, transparency.

That simply isn't workable for any company over maybe 5 or 10 employees, and it's a double standard because bloggers aren't "entirely" honest. They don't display their tax returns on line, don't post their grocery store receipts up, or pass along every conversation they are privy to.

The reason is that blogging works when you build up a reputation - and that reputation is a sum of everything you do. Thus, bloggers who make an enemy of Jobster (or any other company or individual) can find themselves frozen out of discussions or de-linked by other bloggers.

That can be a good thing, as in the case of Joel Cheesman - who makes it a habit to poke his thumb in Monster's eye, or it can be a detriment.

If a company stiffs me for a bill, I can't complain about it on my blog, because other clients might see me as a loose cannon, and prefer not to get involved a person willing to blog their woes.

So if I avoid talking about someone not paying me, does that mean I'm not being transparent?

Anyone in a position to sue their employer is in the same boat. If they sue, even if they win, they might be very hard to employ in that industry for some time. Everyone loves a whistle blower, but no one wants to hire a whistle blower.

Radical Transparency sounds nice, and will get you standing ovations at blogger conferences, but a smart blogger manages their reputation and picks their fights.

Martin Snyder

Great thread going here, raising some key issues; well beyond Jobster's situation.

I never thought of transparency as revealing anything and everything. It’s somewhat childish or at least awfully naïve to imagine any competitive company sharing everything with everyone. That notion ignores the nature of competition itself and the role of asymmetric information in all kinds of transactions, from employment, to marketing, to regulation, and of course, innovation.

I perceive transparency to be the opportunity for outsiders to hear what involved players are actually saying in their own words.

Some people are born spinners and can speak off the cuff with perfect political judgment to promote their chosen frames- President Clinton being the premier example. Others do well with PR people and message consultants who craft the messages to be delivered- as President Bush has shown at various times.

My idea of transparency is that the reader or receiver has access to the raw feed- sans filter. Some people think that President Bush’s finest moment was when he grabbed that bullhorn in NYC- because it was authentic; the real deal-and no state secrets needed to be shared to achieve it.

In that sense, Jason Goldberg comes across as real. You may not like what he says or how he says it, but there is little doubt that he is the one saying it. In fact, his latest release does NOT look so transparent and that has been noted elsewhere. I think that’s a loss for Jobster, on top of the hits they have taken.

Jim Durbin clearly knows what I meant when I said you would not want to make an enemy of Jobster (or any other organization) without good reason.

Negativity is a dangerous tone- I have learned the hard way that people recoil from it even if the message is 100% accurate. I can’t tell you how many organizations that I have known that suffered badly because negative information could not be voiced or acted upon, and I’m sure that most experienced business people know exactly what I am talking about.

It takes courage, confidence, and certain strength to be negative- to confront, to call out, and to name something as it really is. One of my fellow principals has that knack- and it's been critical to what success we have enjoyed.

Even so, in many cases it’s simply not worth it, as Jim notes. How many sales coaches tell you to avoid negative selling like the plague? Even negative political advertising, which seemed so effective at times, has now been shown to be a risky course.

Upshot: for individual business bloggers to come out strong against anything, it’s got to be pretty bad. Thus I give you that blasted OFCCP Internet Applicant rule!

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