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ZoomInfo creates search engine for finding job candidates

Go to any tech company today and you'll hear the same complaint: it's impossible to find good talent. Whenever a Fortune 500 company needs a new CEO, some analyst will invariably suggest that they need "a Lou Gerstner type."

But guys like Gerstner, a humble blacksmith's assistant who pulled the sword from a stone to become IBM's CEO, are pretty rare. And so are half-way decent directors of biz dev for that matter.

ZoomInfo has devised a search engine to ferret out job candidate, even if they aren't looking for a job. Subscribers insert their requirements--need a vice president of marketing, experience in networking in California-- and the search engine comes up with a list of potentials and assembles a roster of their educational background, experience and email address. It's part of a wave of vertical search apps that venture capitalists are funding.

"The best people aren't necessarily on the hiring boards," said Russ Glass, vice president of marketing. "We look at SEC filings, corporate web sites...In general, if people are on the web, we will find them."

Yes and no. The application is fun for getting a snapshot of the employment world. A search on "vice president, microprocessors, California" turned up 188 names and the app constructed a thumbnail sketch of most candidates. A Google search would have turned up a mess o' links.

"It's good for competitive intelligence," said Paula Phelps, director of talent acquisition at IdeaLab.

But errors are common. It says Intraware CEO Peter Jackson went to undergrad at Stanford (uhhh-Berkeley) and worked at Accenture and EDS (that would be Intraware's COO). It couldn't find my wife by job title, but it found her by name. My brother was a complete no-show, although on Google I found his office and a quote in an article about treating patients with incontinence. I popped up, although my current job and educational bio didn't despite the fact that it's posted in several articles.

Phelps admitted that she's never found a candidate from it. And the deluxe version costs $10,000.