Jobster Reborn Away From The Cutting Edge

Sep 25, 2009
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

recruiting comRemember Jobster? Of course you do. How could any recruiter forget the soap opera story of this company founded by a former White House staffer who, as CEO, burned through $46 million before he departed at the end of 2007?

Besides spending like it was 1999, Jobster changed, enhanced, modified, enlarged, annexed — choose your favorite adjective — business models often enough that the enterprise resembled Mrs. Winchester’s house. All of this playing out quite publicly via leaks, corporate PR, and the CEO’s own (defunct) blog.

In fairness to the now departed Jason Goldberg, he was a visionary. When Jobster launched in 2004 it tapped into the then-unnamed and not even  recognized phenom we now all know as social recruiting. To briefly, and only inadequately, explain it, Jobster was a corporate recruiter’s tool to tap the connections of the company’s employees; a digital employee referral program.

Over the next three-plus years Goldberg made well-timed investments, buying a job search engine called WorkZoo, a job tagging service called Jobby, and the blog Jobster would eventually relaunch as a career networking site, loosely tying in the referral program of its youth and bits and pieces of the acquisitions. Much of the best parts, however, languished, suggesting the visionary lacked a vision.

jobster home pageNow, just about two years after Goldberg announced he would leave the company, Jobster has been reborn as a recruiting services provider with the name, which it adopted in the spring. lives on as a classic job board where you can pay to post.

The product now that is the hope of the investors who have poured some $55 million into nee Jobster is a sourcing, searching, and organizational tool. It’s an ATS without the jobs; candidates only.

The key job of is to quickly search your talent database (Talent Bank), which can be imported from multiple sources, including an ATS. A recruiter drives — there’s no job matching here. The process relies on keyword combinations or Boolean search to produce relevancy ranked lists of candidates. These prospects can be organized into folders named as the user desires.

Pull up a prospect and you can see from where they were sourced and see if Recruitingthere’s any contact history. You can add a note yourself.

Now what does this sound like? Say it with me, “ATS.” Or, if you prefer, “talent acquisition system.”

Jeff Dixon, the VP of product who handled the demo, was insistent that is not an ATS. For one, he says, there are no jobs in the system. And without a req and the candidates associated with it, there is no tracking.

In that sense, he’s quite right. He’s also right that many of the systems on the market do a poor job of sourcing. Some of course, do a fine job. The bigger, beefier, and costlier ones can search internal and external candidate databases, social networks, and the web at large, creating lists of prospects and handle the contact management. Just this week a new tool from Jobvite was released that can do the same.

Dixon, though, says’s market research revealed that even users of these systems find them intimidating. That’s my word, not his. What he actually said was, “What you hear (from recruiters) is ‘My ATS is a necessary evil’.”

Recruiters either can’t source from their ATS (very unlikely), find it too difficult (much more likely), don’t know how (?), or simply don’t. The latter is my choice for the most probable explanation for a datapoint from Dixon that one of’s test companies discovered that 40 percent of its hires sourced externally were already in the ATS.

Think of the waste, even if the percentage was half that.

Considering that many companies have decimated their recruiter ranks, may have just caught the tide of another trend, not as glamorous as social recruiting, but eminently more marketable in this economy: efficiency.

“Our tool is much more of a how-do-we-make-the-lives-of-recruiters-easier approach,” Dixon said.

My demo didn’t cover all the ground, but compared to some ATS search demos I’ve seen, is simple to use. Once, that is, you have built the Talent Bank index. Some ATS databases are easier to port to than others. Inbound resumes still go through your ATS or can be processed by a connection, which I didn’t have time to see.

Capturing and parsing data from LinkedIn I did see and it was a snap. Dixon told me it was equally easy for resumes found elsewhere on the web. As a pure sourcing tool, it’s not as versatile as some of what’s coming on the market now, but it does the job.

Oddly, shies away from the social networks. Certainly the unpredictability of formats and the content, as well as the accessibility issues are all, undoubtedly, part of the reason. But CEO Jeff Seely’s belief that social networking is not  recruiting’s “secret sauce,” as he put it, is a factor.

“I just don’t get it,” he candidly said during a conversation earlier this week. “I’m a reluctant participant in Facebook. I’m not on Twitter.” He believes that the social networks will never be fertile ground for recruiters.

So in the year after he assumed the CEO job, he decided the company’s best bet was focusing on products to improve business performance. With, that’s what he has done. It’s a bet that needs $55 million just to cover.

You can see for yourself if you are heading to Chicago next week for HR Tech. The company will officially unveil the new product at the show.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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