Arbita Lays Off Sourcing Group; Job Posting Business In Flux

Following the departure of master sourcer Shally Steckerl, the recruitment services company Arbita has closed its sourcing unit, laying off its employees, and may dispose of its job-posting business as well.

Don Ramer, CEO and founder of Arbita, said three employees were laid off Friday. One or two independent sourcers will close out the remaining projects, but by the end of the year Arbita will be out of the sourcing business.

The future of the OnePost job distribution service, is also “in flux,” Ramer said. The service distributes employer job postings to multiple job boards, tracking responses to provide source analytics. What exactly is to become of OnePost isn’t clear, though Ramer said he might “spin off” the posting business. However, he was adamant that its future will not include him in any kind of leadership role.

Ramer says the company has been “financially stressed and challenged since Q1 2010.” Responding to reports of delayed paychecks, missed reimbursements, and deferred payments to vendors, Ramer said, “Like many small businesses we have had to be open about cash flow with our employees and flexible in timing disbursements. During the last three years we have paid or earned out the bulk of the company’s debt to our job board partners.”

With the sourcing business closed and the future of the  job posting service uncertain, Ramer said he will be sorting through the options for the company and its seven remaining employees.

He said he is looking toward some form of “high-level consultancy” in which Arbita would work with senior-level corporate executives in a strategic talent acquisition and management role.

“We see opportunities at a more senior level,” Ramer said during a phone conversation Monday. The next several weeks will be spent “researching what to do next,” he said, “for the company and the brand in a calmer time.”

The last two weeks have been anything but calm. The sourcing community in particular has been buzzing about Steckerl’s decision to leave Arbita. Several messages about the company’s financial issues have been making the rounds by email and on Twitter.

Ramer referred to the “angry mob mentality I’ve been seeing on social media,” denying the company is folding and refuting suggestions he would “cynically go on vacation and decide to terminate a bunch of people.” Ramer spent part of this month in New Zealand. During the conversation he characterized himself as being “on the defense.” He also had some cryptic tweets over the weekend.

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Steckerl himself has said little publicly about his decision to leave Arbita, where he had been executive vice president and head of the sourcing and training group. Steckerl merged his Job Machine training and sourcing consultancy with Arbita in May 2008.

A year later, Ramer credited the merger with helping Arbita grow by more than 600 percent. Many of the new customers were users of OnePost. However, Ramer said the new training unit — Arbita Consulting and Education Services — headed by Glenn Gutmacher was a strong contributor to the company’s growth.

“The JobMachine acquisition connected us with tens of thousands of recruiting professionals who have purchased workshops, consulting, professional development, or other products developed by Shally Steckerl and Glenn Gutmacher,” Ramer told HRrchitect. Gutmacher left Arbita at the beginning of this year.

However, during our phone conversation Ramer said the sourcing unit hasn’t been profitable for some time and that he has been considering its closure for months.

Steckerl refuted that claim, asserting sourcing and training were a significant source of the company’s revenue. Beyond that, however, Steckerl declined to comment publicly.

Since leaving Arbita two weeks ago, Steckerl has removed mention of the company from his LinkedIn profile. His Twitter account has been made private; you need permission to view his tweets. Steckerl said financial issues fueled his decision to resume his career as an independent cyber-sleuth and sourcing trainer. “I have to pay my bills and provide food for my children,” he said.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.

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