BrassRing.com: Big and Getting Bigger.

Backed by some of the biggest names in the U.S. newspaper industry and a solid pedigree through acquisitions, BrassRing.com aims to knock Dice.com off the top of the hill and dominate the on-line recruiting market for hi-tech talent.

You can be forgiven if you´ve never heard of BrassRing.com. The name either conjures up a cliché phrase or certain types of night spots depending on your age and leisure preferences. However, if you´ve been around recruiting for any length of time, you´ve likely heard of Hire Systems, Westech Career Fairs and their incpad product. You´ve also probably heard of Crimson & Brown, maybe even the Pavement.com. Owned by the Washington Post (and its Kaplan subsidiary), the (Chicago) Tribune Company, Central Newspapers Inc. and Accel Partners (a venture capital firm), BrassRing brings together several acquisitions made throughout North America over the past two years and combines them with in-house products founded more recently. The BrassRing brand began late last year with well over $150 million in its war chest. It spans job boards, applicant management systems and career fairs and is billed as a "bricks and clicks" approach to recruiting. Although each of the divisions supports the others to some extent, this review focuses on BrassRing.com - the hi-tech specific job board. Job Postings: $300/month plus $25/job per month (5%, 10% and 20% discounts for 3, 6 and 12 month pre-paid packages with a two month minimum). Packages are available for 41-60 postings or more with similar discounts for longer-term commitments. With packages, BrassRing will take the positions off your corporate careers site and post them on their site. Between 41-60 postings per month, BrassRing.com charges $1400.00/month, if you have more than one site to pull jobs from, you´ll pay an extra $300.00/month for each. Note also that BrassRing refers to its postings as "slots". This means that you can change your postings completely without paying again because you´ve paid for the slot. There are approximately 61,000 jobs advertised on BrassRing.com currently. This makes the site decidedly smaller than the largest site (by volume of jobs) in the hi-tech space - Dice.com, but that´s not necessarily a bad thing. By volume of features and functionality, BrassRing.com outpaces Dice. This is almost as important in attracting new and return job seekers to your advertised positions as sheer quantity of jobs (assuming job seekers are attracted to sites with lots of posted opportunities). One feature in particular is intriguing. Job seekers who use the site´s extensive collection of articles are prompted to view job ads related to their reading interests. In other words, your posting for Java programmers may be linked to whenever visitors retrieve Java-related articles. BrassRing also makes efforts to attract new job seekers by aggressive on and offline advertising, as well as through agreements with hundreds of web sites to carry BrassRing job content (through co-branded interfaces), BrassRing logos, URL links, etc. The site claims that there are more than 10,000 sites with links to BrassRing.com, however, using altavista, I could only find 94 (as opposed to 11,533 links to Dice.com) and 1,119 on Northern Light (21,489 for Dice). Your postings on BrassRing can be edited on-line and you can receive new resumes that match the skills/experience you are looking for in your posting (free if you subscribe to the resume database). This is a time saving and useful feature of BrassRing not matched by Dice.com. As with Dice, you can connect your postings to your company´s web site, with BrassRing, however, you get to build and advertise a company profile and have your logo in their employer directory (free if you have job postings on the site). BrassRing´s profile creation tool is quick and easy for job seekers as is their method of search and application. This should result in more viewings and applications to your positions. If you are concerned about use of the site across the various regions of North America, be advised that BrassRing is headquartered in California and there is a heavy skew toward use of the site in that State. A comparison of Boston, Toronto, Austin and San Francisco demonstrates that there are 500 - 600% more positions advertised in San Francisco than in the next highest city - Austin. This means that job seekers outside and inside California (but not looking for opportunities in San Jose-San Francisco) might become frustrated with the site and not return. On the other hand, it might mean better exposure for your postings in cities outside Silicon Valley. Consider that postings on Dice.com are equally skewed toward California, though on Dice it would be unusual for a job seeker to come up with less than a large number of opportunities in any major North American city. The bottom line in this is how successful you are with your postings on BrassRing.com. As of the end of June 2000, the site was averaging 2,000,000 job queries per month. With around 60,000 positions advertised currently, that means your postings will be seen a little more than once per day on average, or about eight times per week (of course, this will vary widely based on factors too numerous to list). Dice.com is currently advertising about 217,000 job opportunities and as of July 1999, claimed that the average posting is viewed ten times per week. This makes Dice look slightly better but it´s too close to call. Your best bet by far is to test results on both sites, first hand, by using each at least once before drawing any conclusions. Resume Database: Unfortunately, this is one of a few areas where BrassRing makes us jump through hoops for basic information. There is no indication on the site of the cost of the resume database. Worse, they do not have this information at their fingertips when you call, rather they refer you back to the media kit on the site which, of course, does not have the information either (look for it later in an update to this review). The BrassRing sales department told me the site has about 400,000 candidates in its resume database currently. This would make their resume bank much larger than Dice´s. However, it is unclear what the average age of BrassRing´s resumes are. Dice.com maintains a smaller database (called the "Hotlist") with candidates whose profiles expire after one month and who all claim to be actively seeking work. On testing the BrassRing database, I really liked the search functionality. It is both precise and fast. The instructions and interface are simple and the resumes are easy to follow. BrassRing claims that 85% of its job seekers (including those in the database) are "hard-core techies". The other 15% are non-technical professionals working or seeking work in the industry. My queries using a variety of technical skills returned impressive numbers of resumes and interesting candidates. Your key words and skills are conveniently highlighted in yellow on the resumes that match your search. I also liked the fact that most of the resumes included desired salary ranges, willingness to relocate, immigration status and a cover letter. BrassRing´s resume database allows you to save your searches so that you can run them when you wish. You can also edit them and/or have the site send you email notifications when new candidates with your desired skills post their resumes to the site. Similar functionality is not available on Dice at this time. Customer Service: I´ve read mostly positive notes about BrassRing´s customer service in some of the recruiter forums. My experience was a little different at first. Calling their toll-free line to get a demo password, for instance, took seven separate calls. I was promised return calls that never came. I was hung up on, etc. Finally I managed to connect with a helpful and knowledgeable salesperson (Tracy). Before making the calls, I sent an email request for a test password, it took three days to get a reply (which asked me for more information). Other: BrassRing is a more comprehensive solution to hi-tech recruiting than most other sites on the web. Although not covered in this review, Brass Ring´s career fairs are very well perceived among recruiters. Their applicant management solution, purchased from Hire Systems, is considered to be among the best available. While BrassRing itself does not have a long history in recruitment, its impressive lineage does. You´ll find excellent resources pertaining to diversity, college recruitment and a directory of BrassRing career fair events throughout the U.S. and by several industry sectors, including technical. You might also want to get a free subscription to their High Technology Careers Magazine (www.hightechcareers.com/OLSubscibe.html). Bottom Line: BrassRing is a very good resource. Its tech focused job board compares well to other leading sites of its kind. Compared to the clear-cut leader at this time - Dice.com, BrassRing has some work to do in branding and awareness. Far more job seekers and employers know of and use Dice. On the other hand, BrassRing has both the dollars and the partners (particularly those in print media) to rely on in its long-term quest for pre-eminence in this space. From a cost point of view, Dice, having recently increased its fees tremendously, is the less attractive of the two in most scenarios for most employers. Recommendation: No surprises, I recommend signing on with BrassRing for a few job postings and to search the resume database (request a free password to try this first). A short-term commitment will enable you to evaluate the site for yourself and determine whether to invest more long-term

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