Executive Edge

July-August 1999

Executive Job Searches Going High Tech

Executives who fail to use the Internet as one of the tools in their career search are ignoring a burgeoning resource. About 20 percent of executives are seeking out employment opportunities online. They can surf more than 5,000 job-search sites — not counting employers' own Web sites — with two of the biggest sites posting more than a half-million jobs.

Cyberspace offers several advantages over skimming the want ads or even working through a traditional executive-search company. Once the domain of computer and engineering positions, many Web employment sites permit potential hires to post online résumés, research companies, or network on the Net.

Many sites often target midlevel managers — the fastest-growing section in the executive job market — as well as the upper-level positions. "We have jobs with compensation well above six figures," boasts Stephen Ste. Marie, CEO of CareerPath, a site cofounded by a half-dozen major newspapers. Futurestep, the Internet subsidiary of industry giant Korn/Ferry International, maintains a database of 264,000 people earning an average of $104,000.

Busy executives can also increase efficiency through cyberspace searches. They can use a single e-mail to tell 50 people they are ready to move, rather than make 50 phone calls. Specialized sites such as BranchOut allow execs to enter their schooling, job history, and professional associations, linking them to others with similar backgrounds. Other sites let managers input the type of job they want, including geographic and salary preferences; an e-mail notifies them when matching opportunities arise.

Job-seekers should watch out for a few caveats. Once an online résumé has been posted, it can circulate indefinitely even after it is out of date. Plus, anyone can view a résumé submitted to most online databases, including current employers. Some services let job-seekers remove their names and addresses, but that provides little help if they have unique qualifications.

From Jennifer Reingold, Larry Armstrong, Wendy Zellner, and Edward C. Baig, "Headhunting 2000," Business Week, May 17, 1999, pp. 74-76, 80, 84.

Choosing a Strategy for Managing Knowledge

All executives know that computer networks have made it easy for companies to store and share knowledge. Unfortunately, they often do not know there are basically two strategies for managing knowledge and that, by choosing the wrong one, they could cost their companies dearly.

The codification strategy is a "people-to-documents" approach that extracts key pieces of knowledge from the experts who developed them and stores those pieces for reuse.

Access Health, a call-in medical center, uses the codification strategy. The company's database contains algorithms of the symptoms of more than 500 illnesses. When a patient calls in and describes his or her symptoms, Access Health matches the symptoms with an illness and prescribes the appropriate medicine. Like other firms employing a codification strategy, Access Health relies more heavily on technology than on human capital.

The personalization strategy, by contrast, is based on a person-to-person approach and delivers customized services. At New York City's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 17 disease-specific teams of experts work together with the center's patients. Team members — typically including medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation therapists, psychologists, and other scientists — meet frequently to discuss patients' treatment. At places like Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the emphasis is on human talents rather than on technology.

Both healthcare organizations are successes, partly because each emphasizes the knowledge-management strategy that suits its competitive strategy best. Successful companies usually employ an 80-20 mix in which either the codification or personalization approach is dominant. Whichever they choose, companies should follow the mix consistently. Firms that attempt to straddle the approaches often waste time and money.

From Morten T. Hansen, Nitin Nohria, and Thomas Tierney, "What's Your Strategy for Managing Knowledge?" Harvard Business Review, March-April 1999, pp. 106-116.


Copyright © 1999 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Executive Edge, July-August 1999

Copyright © 1999 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.