Friday, November 04, 2005

Jobster Advisory Born

I’m a firm believer that relationships that start off controversial can lead into some of the strongest. This is the way I feel about Jobster. When Jobster was in its early stages, about a year and a half ago, I heard rumor of them from some of my colleagues in the industry. I knew that there were a few organizations working with them on a pilot program and I knew it had something to do with a referral network. Other than this I didn’t know much else about them.

I then started to receive e-mails from Jobster. They were personalized mails signed by the CEO himself, Jason Goldberg. The Senior Vice President of my team received one, our President received one and I received one. The mail basically said that this is a new innovative way to build your talent network and we would love to tell you more. When we replied to this mail we got nothing back. This was frustrating, especially since our President specifically asked me to see what Jobster was all about. I went onto their website to learn more. I immediately felt a connection with their brand (from a look and feel), however, it was still confusing to me what they did. I got the fact that their tool was about networking with the right candidates but it was hard to figure out how it actually worked. Finally, out of frustration, I put up a blog entry about my experience with them. This was the first time I saw some light at the end of the tunnel.

Miraculously, the chief Jobster himself, Jason Goldberg, read my blog and sent an e-mail to me. He basically said anytime you are ready to know more about what we do, bring it on. This immediately impressed me about the organization. It was the first step in changing my perception and my experience up to this point with them. I told Jason to sign me up—I wanted to know more. He sent Heather Grey out—one of his top sales executives, to show us the product. After my meeting with Heather my perception of them had gone full circle. I hadn’t used the product yet but I knew that I would. There were several things that jumped out at me. They were hiring smart people, they understood the power of a brand, they care about their customers, they are in it because they are passionate about it and they are innovating.

Then we tried the product. Our start was slow. We had to manually enter the contacts into Jobster, enter in our job advertisements and then manage the leads that came in with minimal information about them. It was something new and with anything new it takes some pain to get to where we needed to go with this. This was several months ago. We just ran our latest account executive and senior account executive campaign and the light bulb finally went on. We made contact with several great people. One of them is in Hong Kong and the other in Seattle. These are the type of people that I definitely want to talk to. We haven’t made a hire yet but we are in interviews with candidates from Jobster and I have no doubt that we will make our first hire very soon—and they will be strong hires. If I look at what I invested in the product so far, even if I make two hires this year, it will pay for it. And this is just the beginning. The product is starting to gain momentum.

So where are we now? They value the customer’s voice and they invite controversy. They truly feel this is the essence of what will allow them to become better. So they invited several recruiting professionals up to Seattle to listen about what they can do better and what they are doing well now. This is something I value about them. They brought me up to Seattle and did a lot of listening. I also had the honor to sit in the room with other top recruiting professionals from Nike, Starbucks, EDS, MITRE among others. We had the opportunity to meet their people. Later on we went to Wild Ginger and got to know each other on a more personal level. Over dinner I had the pleasure of talking with John Atkins, lead Product Manager, and Ethan Lowry, Vice President of Product Design. In addition to almost figuring out the future of all innovation I learned how to get all the food to our end of the table. Ethan also taught me how to accidentally lose a glass of merlot and miraculously end up with some top notch Pinot from Oregon—one of Goldberg’s favorites. The night ended with Heather Grey and me chasing a mini-van through the rain. All in all it was a great experience. The Jobster team realizes there is still a lot of work to be done but they are listening to their customers and they are thinking about the right things. They have the building blocks for something great. Thanks for the experience Jobster!

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