Get Jobs off the Street

If Wall Street is the financial capital of the world, Jobstreet.com aspires to be the human capital of the world, said Founder and CEO Mark Chang. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, who started the online job recruitment and matching service in 1995, is among the ranks of successful dotcoms in these days of dot bombs.

Even though Jobstreet.com is an outright pure play in the e-commerce arena, Chang, however, does not view it as a novel dotcom. "It is run like any other business with enough collections to keep it going," he said.

The successful strategy is sweetened by the validation he receives from numerous visitors to the portal who have thanked him for helping them secure jobs of their choice.

"I was trying out different businesses on the Web -security, banking, travel and even radio - apart from jobs and what compelled me to stick to jobs were the users who came back to say that they had been successful in getting a job through us. It is a good feeling being able to help someone," he said.

Today JobStreet.com is among the oldest Internet recruitment Web sites in Asia-Pacific, with its comprehensive suite of interactive services. More than 8000 international and local Asian corporations currently recruit from JobStreet.comís pool of over one million users.

Users who sign up with Jobstreet.com do not have to fork out a single cent to post their resumes. Employers, however, pay between US$50 and US$150 for every position filled through the pay-per-use model.

"It can be one or 10 jobs for that position at the same price," said Chang.

The right job

Chang views jobs as an important aspect of a personís life and believes that people are better off using his site to get a job they truly want. "Life can be miserable if you are in the wrong job. Moreover, jobs are not transparent enough as there may be right jobs out there of which you are not aware," he said.

He pays a great deal of attention to matching his clienteleís needs and much of the time is devoted to fine-tuning the matching process. "Unlike most job sites that post jobs, we develop the back-end system of the resume processing part for our customers."

Dell APCC is among Jobstreet.comís earliest customers. According to its director of human resources and administration, Tan Aun Gim, Dell opted for a virtual job placement process in addition to advertising for manpower in the traditional media.

"It turned out to be a good tool as we are able to store the information and retrieve it later. Initially we received about 2000 applications a week before it stabilised to 1000. But we do expect the numbers to rise again because of the impending recession this year," said Tan.

Jobstreet.com provided Dell with junior and middle-level positions for its manufacturing facilities in Malaysia and India. Senior executives have also responded to placements at Dell but have to undergo a more stringent screening process.

"We also gave Jobstreet.com some pointers on how to improve their Web site and tailor it to meet our needs. We also have a system in place to track the effectiveness of the tool. The yield rate from 1000 applications was 60% in the early days. Now the return rate is not as high as it is only natural because we are older and the street is also getting crowded. We have more wisdom [when it comes to selecting candidates," said Tan.

According to Chang, Dell had conducted an internal study that showed it would take 48 days from the posting of an advertisement to the day of making an offer through traditional media. "Our system cuts that process down to two days."

A load of the mundane processing activities such internal processing of each candidate, scheduling appointments and accompanying paperwork undertaken by Jobstreet.com do ease workload of human resource personnel at each company. "We take a load off them and they can concentrate on the interview and hiring the right person."

While most companies are happy with Jobstreet.comís subscription-based model, they argued that prices should be lowered in order to stay competitive. "There are many players such as JobsDB and Monster.com in the market and Jobstreet.com will need to diversify and translate that database to something of more value to customers," said a personnel manager who declined to be named.

Chang countered that their pricing includes a resume management software that is thrown in for free while other online recruiters charge for additional services.

Beyond the street

Dellís Tan suggested that Jobstreet set up another Web site that exclusively serves regular customers. "They need to go beyond the job [search and match service]," she said. Yet Chang does not see Jobstreet.com heading in that direction. He claimed that Jobstreet.com is far more elaborate and complete compared to their competitors.

"We are happy to work hand-in-hand with MNCs as we are geared towards large organisations, identifying their needs and tailor-made to meet it. We are constantly making improvements which I believe puts us ahead of the rest."

Chang is setting his sights on China after a successful debut in India recently and believes that India and Asia will be the main providers of human capital to the rest of the world.

"We are now looking at China as we see equal potential there," he said, adding that they did not make in-roads earlier due to the language differences.

Among the challenges that Jobstreet.com face include low Internet penetration in the region. "We have to get to the stage where the Internet is pervasive as the telephone right now in order to reach out to a wider user base," he said, adding that the current pool comprises 20% fresh graduates and 80% working adults.

Changing the mindsets at MNCs is another hurdle, as many prefer the print medium as a means to find potential employees instead of the cheaper method offered by the Internet.

Yet Chang is determined to realise his vision of building Asia as the human capital of the world.

"Twenty years ago, it was about money, market and people. Now it is the reverse - people, market and money. I believe that once you raise the right human capital, you can easily raise the financial capital. The value of a company lies in its people, not its fixed assets."

By Anita Devasahayam , 1-May-2001, Published in Intelligent Enterprise Asia