McGovern's New 'mkt-ing' Campaign

Sunday, October 2, 2005
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It's ironic listening to Rob McGovern complain about how job boards have not lived up to their promise. After all, it's partly his fault: Ten years ago, at the age of 33, he founded CareerBuilder, now the first or second most popular board, along with Monster.

Every recruiter knows the problem. The boards offer weak job search tools for candidates, plus the ability to submit mass applications, making it easier to apply for jobs than carefully select them. The result is a fire hose of unqualified resumes, many with key words added just to be system-selected, sent in for every job opening -- from 300 to 500 each, according to McGovern's research. Which leaves poor recruiters falling back on the resume parsing function or the conceptual search engine of their applicant tracking system to find the five or 10 good ones in the flood. Most candidates get no response, lots of time is wasted and cost-to-hire skyrockets.

In 2002, McGovern resigned as CareerBuilder's CEO and thinks his new company, mkt10 (pronounced market 10), has a better way. With 19 of its 25 employees veterans of CareerBuilder, mkt10 takes a new and very different approach to matching candidates and open positions on the Internet. Along the way, it also offers HR a less painful way to start adopting competencies.

"Technology can do better than simply gather and filter resumes," he says. "Besides, the ATS vendors have captured only 1,000 of the 450,000 U.S. companies with more than 100 employees. Mid-market companies need the help most. The public part of mkt10 is aimed at them."

McGovern's system eliminates the resume, a risky proposition that Taleo tried when it was called Recruitsoft. Instead, mkt10 uses profiling, a common technique, but uses it in an uncommon way. Candidates come to the mkt10 Web site and encounter a series of evermore specific multiple-choice questions about what they want, what they've done (skills) and what they think they're best at (competencies). McGovern has created a taxonomy of 20,000 skills right down to the project level. Candidates are given 10 black "chips" to drag and drop onto their strengths.

The real innovation starts after the form is finished. Candidates cannot shop for available jobs as they can now, but are, instead, automatically matched with whatever openings mkt10 clients have posted. Then they receive a ranked list of job matches and another 10 black chips to allocate to their favorites. Recruiters are then told their preferences. Recruiters, who only see matching candidates ranked numerically, must move them to a favorites list to save them (like on and the candidates are told about that, too, via a system alert.

Candidates can set up alerts to be told when they are moved off or onto a recruiter's favorites list. Salary is double blind. The system knows what the candidate wants and what the company is offering and makes matches without telling either party. But it will tell either side when their expectations are out of line! Talk about a new kind of transparency in the job market.

"This creates an open and honest market," McGovern says, "which was really inspired by eBay, where you see the actual market price and other bidders. We hope to replace the inflated resumes and misleading job descriptions on the boards today."

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Since candidates have only one profile, they can't recreate themselves for every opening. But the real challenge for mkt10's success may be on the employer side. Sure, it creates a "virtual resume" from the profile information so hiring managers can still hold that paper in their hands. But in order to match the candidate profiles, the same taxonomy must be used to create the job requisitions, also with 10 black chips. And that's a big (though perhaps welcome) move into skills and competencies that almost certainly conflicts with any current requisition system -- in the ATS or the HRMS. Call it disruptive technology.

Workforce vendor Peopleclick has embraced the disruption and is making mkt10 a new optional front end to its popular recruiting system, branding it Peopleclick Precision Matching. McGovern is also selling an enterprise version (mkt10-plus) for private corporate job sites and has signed an impressive list of large, undisclosed companies.

The public site has been running in the Washington area since June. It was officially launched in August with 50 corporate clients and is expected to have 300 by the time this column is published. Corporations pay only for success: $2,000 for each hire. Candidates use the site for free. McGovern hopes to roll it out across the country by the end of 2006.

Technology Columnist Bill Kutik is also co-chairman of the 8th Annual HR Technology Conference & Exposition®  in Chicago, Oct. 19 through 21. The complete agenda is now available at He can be reached at

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