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    Shannon Henry's The Download Live
    Discussion With CEO Rob McGovern

    Thursday, September 2, 1999 at 1 p.m.

    Shannon Henry Welcome to The Download Live. I'm your host, Shannon Henry. My guest today will be Rob McGovern, CEO of, a local Internet start-up that serves as a kind of "portal" for anyone in a job-seeking (or job-filling) circumstance.

    A lawyer in Washington, for example, who wants to work as an in-house counsel for a technology company in Boston, can run a search for "lawyer," "technology" and "Boston" and immediately see a listing of relevant openings.

    With an additional click, the job candidate can send a resume directly to the company.

    The service is free for job seekers but employers pay to post their positions. CareerBuilder also contracts with more than 20 "affiliates" -- media outlets such as CNET and NBC -- to manage their online job listings.

    McGovern was online Thursday to talk about the online job market.

    Transcript Follows

    Shannon Henry: Hi Rob. Thanks for joining us today. Send questions now!

    Shannon Henry: Let's start with a quick description of why someone would look for a job online rather than the old-fashioned circling ads in a newspaper method.

    Rob McGovern: I think there are two key reasons to look for your next job online: 1) Speed, and 2) Quality of information. In the old days we used to sit around waiting for the Sunday you can log-on any day/any hour and see virtually every job that's available. And, instead of reading three line cryptic ads, you can now see the job posting, plus info on the company, it's financial info, etc

    Shannon Henry: Tell us about Microsoft's investment in Careerbuilder. How much do they own and how does the ownership affect your business? Friendly e-mail advice from Bill Gates?

    Rob McGovern: Contrary to popular rumor, Bill Gates isn't my rich uncle. Microsoft invested $18M in the company (May 99), and it serves as their realization that the online careers business represents a lucrative market. They looked at a number of players, and decided to invest in us on the basis of our unique business model.

    West River, MD: CareerBuilder's share price is currently around half of its price when it first went public. So far today, it's down more than 7 percent. How do you explain this?

    Rob McGovern: Hi West River,

    Great question about the stock price. Since we went public, the overall Internet stock sector is down 50%, so we're tracking to close to that trend. With that said, I don't recommend Internet stocks if you are looking for a near term play. The reality is that many of the Internet names will be great 3 year investments, but trying to time them this month or this quarter is a flawed strategy.

    Bethesda, MD: Rob,

    Is there an Executive-VP level or section with

    Rob McGovern: I think your best bet would be to check out our job listings at Business Week or Bloomberg (We run both of those sites), as they tend to cater to higher level audiences.

    Arlington, VA: Are the majority of the jobs offered technology jobs? Are you finding that non-tech job seekers and employers are having much luck recruiting online, or is it still mostly for the educated, tech-y elite?

    Rob McGovern: Two years ago, this was primarily a tech jobs venue. That's all changed now. For example, of the 100,000 jobs we posted last month, only 17% were tech jobs.

    Shannon Henry: Many people I talk with about searching for a job on the Internet love the idea, but have privacy concerns. What if a current employer sees his worker's resume online? How do you address these issues at Careerbuilder?

    Rob McGovern: If you take one thing away from our chat today, it should be that you should NEVER submit your resume to a online resume database. It's okay to submit to individual job listings, but the public resume databases are problematic. Aside from putting you at risk with your employer, you also will be hounded by headhunter (they are the primary users) for the rest of your lives.

    Reston, VA: Why didn't CareerBuilder go to national TV advertising like Hotjobs and Monsterboard?

    Rob McGovern: We do a fair amount of national advertising, particularly on the radio. If you saw yesterday's media metrix numbers, we've grown from the perceived #10 to the #3 position in the past few months. In the same period, Monster's national TV advertising has resulted in 5% DECREASE in traffic.

    arlington, VA: I think you provide a great service, particularly for the desperate -like me- but how do you know if people are responding or getting jobs from things they see? Do you get any kind of feedback on that?

    Rob McGovern: Aside from the thousands of Emails we get from job seekers saying thanks, we also regularly survey our customers. Our data indicates that the majority of people are finding jobs.

    Washington, DC: There seem to be about 500 web sites focusing on recruiting. How is an employer supposed to determine where to place an ad? How is a job seeker to judge the best place to look? Any advice?

    Rob McGovern: employers have the harder job, as you are right, there are plenty of choices. One of the things my sales consultants do is out together multi-site media plans for our customers, which are based on our experiences with many sites (ranging from generic to very targeted by profession). On average, our customers use 6-10 sites, and get better results than a "just wing it" strategy.

    Shannon Henry: Obviously newspapers see sites like yours as great threats to an important revenue source. How do you see newspapers participating in the online job market? Tell us about your partnerships with newspapers-can the two work together?

    Rob McGovern: In the classic description of Internet "disintermediation", the newspapers are in a tough spot. There's almost a feeding frenzy in the market, trying to redistribute the customer's dollars. We've had good success working with newspapers as partners (Dallas Morning NEws and USA Today), and think we can help them make the transition, while enriching our shareholders.

    Potomac, MD: I am currently engaged in a full time search for a management position with a high tech firm, specifically in the DC metro area. I've been using CareerBuilder as well as other similar websites and their personal search agents.
    My concern is that my resume and cover letters are being dumped into data bases for screening solely by keyword searches by potential employers; it seems to me that the effort to craft a good cover letter and substantive resume is wasted effort if all that really matters is that my resume contain the right combination of keywords.
    Also while most services will pass back an email acknowledging receipt of my resume, some haven't.
    How does one avoid falling into the data base black hole?

    Rob McGovern: You are pointing out a common frustration--now that it is easier to submit your resume online, employers are now receiving higher volumes of resumes. I'll give you a quick tip. Take your standard resume and cover letter, cut and paste it into an Email message, and mail it to yourself. This is what the employer is going to see. In most cases, it's going to be a jumbled mess. I suggest making a short and sweet two page (1 Cover message + 1 page resume) email, that is formatted for maximum Email browser clarity.

    And don't worry too much about the keyword stuff (technical term), because very few employers actually know how to use this capability. I know the so-called experts like to write about this, but in reality, among our 1000 corporate clients, less than a handful use key word screening.

    Arlington, VA: Many online positions seem to be closed but still listed online. Isn't "live" information interviewing of potential employers -presuming one knows where the hidden jobs are- still a more effective tool in the long run?

    Rob McGovern: This is where you need to focus on the quality players. Many of the second tier career sites leave ads online indefinitely, as a way of boosting their content quality. If you go a good site (like!), you'll only find jobs which have been posted in the last 30 days.

    Washington, DC: I've read recently about new "auction-style" recruiting sites, where job seekers make their services available for employers to bid on. Do you think this will change the online recruiting market in the near future?

    Rob McGovern: In a word, no. While this new auction concept has received a lot of media hype, in reality, the important players (the companies who pay the salaries) aren't playing. The companies don't like this model, as searching for a good employee has much more to it than simply paying the highest bid. I firmly believe the Internet will usher in many great new ideas in the careers area, but as for auctions, I'm selling the idea short.

    Shannon Henry: How did you move from #10 to #3 on Media Metrix's ratings? Over what period of time?

    Rob McGovern: I think there are two key trends driving our steady increase in traffic. First, our new Mega Job Search, which searches nearly every job on the Web, is a huge hit with job seekers. We consistently hear that it's the best job search tool on the Web.

    Second, our affiliate network, which includes, Microsoft, NBC, USA Today, Bloomberg, City Search, and 20+ others is showing great results. Best of all, we are at the beginning or a substantial ramp at many of these sites.

    West River, MD: West River here, again. Thanks for your response... A follow-up question: According to what source is the overall Internet sector stock value down 50 percent since your company went public in May?

    Rob McGovern: You basically have two types of metrics you can us. The first are baskets of stocks assembled by the large investment houses. For example, Goldman Sachs as an Index, as well as Hambrecht and Quist, etc.

    The second are the Mutual funds that solely invest in Internet equities, which serve as a proxy for the overall sector. Depending on the day, you'll find these funds are down 40-60% since May 1st. (FYI: AOL, EBAY, AMAZON, to name a few are trading 50% below their April/May highs).

    ARlington va: follow-on to Potomac's question. I too am looking for a management position and all the on-line sites seem to be focussed more on the programmer-analyst types. Do you have a feel for the ratio of IT Management vs. IT Programming jobs filled on line ?

    Rob McGovern: If you are looking for a management position in the IT sector, you couldn't be better positioned in this "new" economy. There is a huge shortage of tech people who can both develop and lead. I would suggest using our Mega Job Search capability, using keywords focused on 'team leadership' and IT management.

    Shannon Henry: This market is several years old now. How has it improved or changed? What's the Next Big Thing for online job sites?

    Rob McGovern: When I founded this company three years ago, my initial investor presentations included a tutorial on "what is the Internet", has it ever changed.

    Two years ago Internet recruiting expenditures lived in a apart of the HR budget labelled as "Other", now, in two short years, almost every company has a large budget dedicated to this function. If ever a business process (recruiting) has been changed by the Internet, this is the one.

    I think you are seeing the beginning of a large and dynamic market. Yes, you are absolutely seeing the "version 1" products from all the vendors, and lots will change in the coming months. There will be many failed products, several decent products, and a few homeruns. It's the search for the homeruns which keep us up at night!

    Washington, DC: What is Career Builder doing to help employers reach passive job seekers? What services do you offer job seekers that the other recruiting boards do not?

    Rob McGovern: Passive job seeking is the new trend in our business. We've got almost 600,000 people who have registered for job alerts, where we Email them matches as they are filled. Most of these people are very happily employed, but use the service to scan for their dream job as it becomes available.


    Seattle, WA: I am a career program analyst with the government. Much of my work entails writing which I love to do. I would like to know how I can provide prospective employers - both public and private - with samples of my writing to convince them to hire me when I'm ready to move on.

    Rob McGovern: I suggest developing your own Web site, with samples of your work. You can do this at Geocities, for example, and it won't cost you a cent.

    Arlington VA: Do you find more employers accepting formatted resumes online, or are they doing ascii searches for keywords. If the latter, are employers scanning the entire text ? or looking for specific keywords in one section?

    Rob McGovern: As we said early, this keyword thing is overblown--almost no employers actually use it. My advice: "think ASCII" as the majority of time it will be converted into text by the company.

    Washington, DC: We all hear this shortage of skilled tech workers. I am a very good end user, and familiar with specialized programs such as geographic information systems and project management. Recently I've begun to develop skill in VB programming, but I am having trouble finding a company that would give me a chance. Why?

    Rob McGovern: I think you are seeing why you need to stay on the cutting edge of technology, if you plan to have a long and lucrative career in the tech sector. Visual Basic is somewhat passe (pass-say), with new technologies like C++ and Java becoming the language dejour. I always tell programmers to stay in touch with the new languages, because it's easy to get lulled into being an expert on yesterdays hot trend.

    Shannon Henry: As someone who's closely following the overall job market, what big-picture trends are you seeing? Really hot jobs/industries, etc.?

    Rob McGovern: Healthcare, technology, marketing, and finance jobs are white hot at the moment. I think you'll see this trend continue. One other hot trend are new titles, that incorporate "new economy" concepts in jobs. For example, one of our clients, Yahoo, inc., regularly advertises for Web Surfers and Head Yahoos.

    Potomac MD: You alluded earlier to some of the sites you operate for others contain different content depending on the audience for that particular organization -e.g. Business Week-.

    As a job seeker can you help me understand how CareerBuilder segments its service offering by types-levels of jobs so that I can better focus my search on your site or those of your customers?

    Rob McGovern: If you want a comprehensive index, simply go to and do a Mega Search. It's that simple!

    alpharetta, ga: In terms of initially marketing your site , where did you advertise?

    Rob McGovern: We try to balance interactive and broadcast mediums. We find interactive (banner ads) very good for driving traffic, but broadcast better for building brand. We do spend some on print, although many of the nation's newspapers reject our ads (Present company excluded...our terrific host likes our money :)

    Washington, DC: Why would an employer place an ad in a database with 2 million other jobs, rather than place an ad in the local paper? Doesn't the greater number of jobs reduce the value of each one?

    Rob McGovern: are raising a great point. Employers should advertise where they find the best ratio of job seekers to job listings. This is something we work hard at to make sure we deliver excellent value to our HR clients.

    Shannon Henry: Well, time's up! Thanks Rob for a great discussion. Tune in in 2 weeks for The Download Live when our guest will be Marc Andreessen, chief technology officer of America Online. Bye!

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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