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Online Headhunters: Working to Find Work

With job markets skyrocketing from the surge in Internet startups, plenty of dot-coms abound simply to fill positions. Anyone can hop online and type such destinations as Monster.com, HotJobs.com or kforce.com, which exist to help clients find work.

The concept may be a watershed in terms of winning over people skeptical on the word "headhunter." People who visit brick-and-mortar headhunters quickly realize that they must first interview with the recruiter's recruiter before meeting the final recruiter. But with online staffing sites, clients can skip this circle within a circle concept. For most of these businesses, propsective clients have the autonomy. Rather than waiting for a person to match a client with a firm, clients can go online, search from a list of brick-and-click companies and submit a resumé. In due career development center fashion, these sites even explain how to build the resumé before it is sent.

Sure, all of these sites go a long way to hook people up with jobs. Titans such as Amazon.com and America Online pay fees or have signed on for special employer/employee packages to advertise their job boards and help them find candidates. And there is no shortage of people looking for jobs, or even just advice. Consider what has become the leader in the field -- Monster.com. To date, this behemoth said it holds more than six million job seeker accounts, a resumé database with more than three million resumes and job opportunities from thousands of firms. According to Media Metrix, Monster.com was the 87 most visited site on the Web in February.

But there is one key thing these dot-coms don't do -- tell people what a specific company's corporate culture is like -- whether casual or formal dress is required, whether the work atmosphere is hyper or relaxed, and other kinds of specifics that only a person who is employed there would know. And that is where WetFeet.com comes in. Launched in 1994 as WetFeet Press Inc., co-founder and current President Steve Pollock said the seed of WetFeet.com was planted shortly after he graduated from Stanford business school. Recognizing that the job searching process was not a user-friendly experience, Pollock and a friend aimed to capitalize on the lack of help and advice in this sector.

"We did it for a lot of reasons," Pollock said. "We weren't getting a lot of info about companies and no one else was doing it. Looking for jobs is a very intimidating process and what we have doen is taken steps to lessen that."

They did oodles of research and created and sold career advice guides featuring intimate corporate profiles. Looking to stay ahead of the business curve, they went online in the summer of 1995, and have since taken off. Pollock said WetFeet.com has increased in sales both from offline products, including pamphlets and insider guides purchased internationally, and online, where he said companies choose from a number of packages, with the basic suite starting at $5,000. For this sum, firms get representation on the site and online Q&A sessions with job applicants.

WetFeet.com boasts a number of brick and click corporate recruiters, including Yahoo!, Charles Schwab Amazon.com. And similar deals with idealab!, BizBuyer and Asimba.com are on the way.

"These firms work with us to improve their recruitment efforts," Pollock said. "Together, we work hard to present balanced -- both positives and negatives are represented -- assessments to help comp