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Five Rules for Strategic Partnerships in a Digital World

Digital marketing concept. Human hand with a megaphone surrounded by media icons

Partnerships have always been a critical strategy for businesses looking to grow in unfamiliar markets, tap new customer segments, or sell additional products or services. They have also always been notoriously tricky to make work. Too bad, because in today’s hypercompetitive, hyper-connected marketplace, partnerships have taken on even greater strategic importance and complexity. Both business-to-consumer and business-to-business companies are in an arms race to develop innovative user experiences, expand distribution, and capture new sources of monetization. Digital leaders are discovering that their future depends not just on what their own companies can do, but on the capabilities, functions, channels, and insights they can tap by partnering with others.

Read The full Article Here


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Roulette or Deal Center? – by David Brensilber

As a carryover member of the International Association of Employment Sites, I always look forward to the TA Tech Conferences.  I signed up for the upcoming TA Tech Conference and Expo in Las Vegas.  Normally, my primary goal at these conferences is to network with other attendees.   With the recent changes that TA Tech introduced, I will have to spend more time in the sessions like the one “Know What You’re Buying: Bot Clicks Aren’t Candidates” to be presented by Alex Murphy.

While I have the utmost respect for Alex, I worked with him for 7 years and I do not need to travel to Las Vegas to hear his thoughts.  So what changed to make me sit through sessions that sometimes can feel like hours or days.

Today, I received an email announcing the TAtech Center for Deals & Alliances.  In Orlando, TA Tech set up a room for companies to hold meetings and they also set up an app so that attendees could arrange for meeting with other attendees.  It was a great first generation app which achieved it purposes but still had a few bugs.

This time around, they changed things up a little.  I included a screen shot of their deal and alliance page.

The item that caught my attention is this Walking Pass for $300 if you purchased the conference pass.  So after purchasing a pass to attend the conference, if I want to meet with the attendees who are set up in this deal center, I have to shell out another $300.  I thought that I was reading this wrong by then found this note:  “Regular Conference attendees do not get access to the Deal Center and Deal Center passes do not include access to Conference presentations or the Exhibit Hall.”  If I was purchasing a meeting table in this deal center, I can not only meet with people who paid this fee??  How can this right?

As my wife and many of my business associates can attest, I am not the smartest guy on the block, but TA Tech’s approach to their deal and alliance center seems to be misguided.  Why would I purchase a table to negotiate deals when access is limited to this special deal center?  If I schedule a meeting with someone who does not have this special access, will they kick that person out?

My conference goal is to find as many attendees who I can work with.  If I am cordoned off from a significant section of the attendees, have I defeated my goal in attending?  Maybe it makes more sense to put the $300 fee for this deal center on double zero on the roulette table.

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Randstad buys Monster for $429M as recruitment consolidation continues


Yet one more significant piece of M&A in the online recruitment industry. Today RandstadHoldings, an Amsterdam-based human resources and recruitment specialist, announcedthat it would acquire job hunting portal Monster Worldwide, for $429 million in cash.

The deal works out to $3.40 per share in cash and is a premium on Monster’s share price at closing on Monday of $262 million. But it is a far cry from the heady days of 2000 — when Monster, which had gone public soon after being founded in 1999 (itself the result of a merger of two early job startups), had a share price of over $91 and a market cap of nearly $8 billion. Even in 2007, when its stock was around $51, Monster was valued as high as $5.5 billion. (Sound familiar? It’s a song that gets played out in many versions.)

It’s still an interesting exit for Monster, which was one of the veterans (and notably, survivors) from the first dot-com boom. It comes amid a spate of M&A activity in the space. Just in June, Monster itself acquired Jobr, a “Tinder for jobs.” And last month, Indeed.com acquired Simply Hired. Indeed itself is owned by Japan’s recruitment and HR giant, Recruit Holdings.

Monster will keep its brand and will operate as a separate entity, but the bigger idea here is to consolidate different aspects of the recruitment and employment industry for better economies of scale and a “portfolio of HR services,” in the words of Randstad.

 “In an era of massive technological change, employers are challenged to identify better ways to source and engage talent,” said Jacques van den Broek, CEO of Randstad, in a statement. “With its industry leading technology platform and easy to use digital, social and mobile solutions, Monster is a natural complement to Randstad. The transaction is aligned with our Tech and Touch growth strategy and reflects our commitment to bringing labor supply and demand closer together to better connect the right people to the right jobs. We look forward to welcoming the Monster team and working together to shape the evolving global job industry.”

For Monster, this is an important move to combine with a strategic and adjacent business at a time when companies like Recruit are dwarfing it in the pure-play recruitment space. The company is active in 40 countries, and had around 50,000 employers in its database according to its Q1 report. But in comparison Simply Hired alone (as one Indeed property) covers some 50,000 employers.

“Joining Randstad provides a unique opportunity to accelerate our ability to connect more people to more jobs,” said Tim Yates, CEO of Monster, in a statement. “Together with Randstad, Monster will be better positioned to fulfill our core mission, and our employees will benefit from becoming part of a larger, more diversified company. Equally important, this transaction offers immediate value to our shareholders. We are excited to join and be supported by Randstad, as we continue to build the best recruiting media, technologies, and platforms. We look forward to working with the Randstad team to ensure a smooth transition.”

While Monster’s bread and butter and mainstay is its website, Randstad has a focus on recruitment centers. It has some 4,500 branches and says it’s placed some 2 million people in jobs. This will give them an online component to expand that.


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Massachusetts just said… SHOW ME THE MONEY !

Massachusetts just passed an equal pay law that prohibits companies from asking candidates their salary histories until after they make a job offer that includes compensation, unless the candidate voluntarily discloses the information. Massachusetts’s new law also mandates that employers pay men and women the same not just when they do the exact same work, but when their work is “comparable.” Most laws only require men and women in the exact same job to be paid equally. Also, the new law also bans salary secrecy, blocking employers from keeping their employees from talking about pay with each other.

The major rationale behind the new law is that companies use a candidate’s previous salary as a benchmark in determining their proposed salary offer (basically a bump in what they are earning now). This negotiation hurts woman candidates more than men since on average woman earn less than their counterparts (roughly $.79 for every $1 a man earns).

I applaud this new statue and hope that everyone earns the appropriate salary for the job they perform.

As someone who has spent time learning about the art of negotiation, I am fascinated on how this new law will impact salary negotiation. In the past, companies would routinely ask candidates their salary histories early in the process to box the candidate in the salary negotiation. By offering up your current salary, it is easy for an employer to propose an offer based upon your current salary. Typically, negotiations tend to cluster around the starting point so if you let the employer know your current salary then you have limited your potential upside in your salary offer.

With the removal of the salary histories, the negotiations in the hiring process will have to change. Instead of companies just collecting salary histories, they will need to be more creative in these discussions. For example, companies could start with the simple request to candidates on what salary are they looking for (especially since an exemption to this new law includes voluntary salary disclosure by candidates).

So what can a candidate do to balance the scales in the negotiation? My advice is to hold off on salary negotiations (including telling the employer what your goal salary is) until the employer proposes a job offer. Also, candidates should respond to any inquiries by saying that they are first trying to determine if this opportunity is a good fit for the candidate and the employer and any money discussions should be had at the appropriate time.

The difference in a good negotiation and a bad may mean an additional 20% to 30% of your compensation. So act smart in Massachusetts and around the country.


David Brensibler
The Fire Brick Group
david at firebrickgroup.com

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Glassdoor sued by user whose email was ‘leaked’ instead of BCC’ed

A little over a week ago, Glassdoor began emailing its users to let them know of an update to the site’s terms of service. But rather than BCC’ing its anonymous reviewers, Glassdoor dumped their email addresses into a regular ol’ CC field, effectively outing at least 600,000 members of the site.

Now, one of those outed users is suing.

Melissa Levine, a Los Angeles-based television researcher, filed a class-action lawsuit against Glassdoor today, claiming the employment review site violated state law by including her email address in the CC field and exposed her to potential retribution from her former employers. A Glassdoor spokesperson said the company has not yet been served and therefore cannot comment on the case.

“That the strict anonymity of users on Glassdoor could be so carelessly and recklessly violated and cast aside in such an amateurish fashion should make us all question the extent to which Glassdoor places profit over people,” Ben Meiselas, an attorney for Levine, told TechCrunch in a statement.

Glassdoor encourages employees to review their current and former employers anonymously — users can’t view other reviews without first adding their own. Many of the reviews on Glassdoor are perfectly polite, but negative reviews often pop up, and it appears that Levine might have left a few unhappy reviews of her own.

The company acknowledged the mistake in a statement shortly after the terms of service email update was sent.

Here is a link to the rest of the article


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2016 Mid-year Predictions By David Brensilber – The FireBrick Group

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I know that most people make yearly predictions in December and January but I thought that in might be more fun to make some mid-year predictions. So here they are:

1. One or more foreign job boards will approach and made a bid for Monster. A deal will not be consummated in the near term. Monster will claim that that price offered will be too low. There are several international players in the recruitment space that have the resources and desire to enter the US market in a big fashion. Monster is an obvious choice especially with it trading a low multiple to revenue. Monster offers a potential acquirer many benefits starting with the size of its operations, valuable brand name and relationships with employers.

Unfortunately, no deal will happen now based upon where the stock is trading and the alleged upside to the stock.

2. With the departure of Simply Hired from the aggregator scene, Jobs2Careers will move into the Avis spot of being the number 2 player. They will see their stock rise as a result of their better matching than their competitors. To achieve this elevation, they will need to maintain their focus and avoid distractions that are impacting their competitors. I predict that Jobs2Careers will supplant ZipRecruiter due to ZipRecruiter’s focus on selling directly to employers and other distractions.

3. Snagajob will face an ever increasing number of competitors in their hourly and part time space. As we continue the movement towards the gig economy, more and more companies will focus their efforts in this space. The winning strategy has yet to be written especially in light of the changing demographics of the people in the gig economy.

4. Britain will hold a referendum on June 23 on whether the country will leave the European Union, a process often referred to as Brexit. The current polls have those in favor of leaving ahead by 10 percentage points. My prediction is that the vote will end up with the UK staying in the European Union. As we approach the voting date, people will be concerned with the potential financial impact and choose to remain for the known as opposed to the unknown.

5. The economy will continue its slowdown while avoiding a major crash. As it continues, more companies will become cautious in their hiring actions. The market will change from being tilted in favor of jobseekers to one in favor of employers. This changing nature will slow down the adoption of more jobseeker friendly actions like employer branding efforts and more efficient and streamline applications processes.

David Brensilber
FireBrick Group
david at firebrickgroup.com