Recruiting Blog Cheezhead Acquired by

By Staff Report

Sep. 9, 2009 said Wednesday, September 9, that it acquired popular HR blogger Joel Cheesman’s company and made him a senior vice president responsible for the job board’s interactive marketing and community activities.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. However, it includes Cheesman’s sometimes-snarky blog as well as his other companies.

Cheesman has run a business, HRSEO, focused on search engine optimization. Recruitment search engine optimization involves helping organizations improve the way their job listings appear in the organic search results at search engines such as Google.

A more recent Cheesman business is HirePPC. That has involved helping clients to have their paid advertisements appear more prominently on job aggregation sites such as

Cheesman will move from Cleveland to’s headquarters in Phoenix by late October or early November. All of Cheesman’s “handful” of employees will be offered jobs within, according to Aaron Matos, the company’s CEO.

The deal comes as blogs such as Cheesman’s have gained increasing clout in human resources, but also have come under scrutiny for issues including proper disclosure of conflicts of interest.

The acquisition explains the lack of posts on Cheezhead over the past three months, the time it took the parties to negotiate the deal, Cheesman said.

In a move that appears aimed to head off conflict-of-interest concerns under the new ownership, Cheesman said he will alter his blog’s content.

“As an independent third party, covering industry news was an important part of the Web site,” Cheesman said in a statement. “However, as part of, we will be evolving the content of the site for our employers, providing content relative to local recruitment.

“With the blog now becoming part of a competitor in the industry, we think it’s important to change the editorial direction of the Web site to no longer comment on specific industry players and will be modifying the current site’s content to be in alignment with this new vision.”

Matos adds that Cheezhead will be recast as a resource for employers and recruiters.

“We won’t be commenting on any of our competitors, positive or negative,” he said.

By adding a recognized community-builder like Cheesman, is following a course recommended by industry analysts and consultants for job boards to transform themselves into full-bodied career portals with services, content and message boards in addition to job postings—all the better to battle social networks like Facebook and Twitter that employers and recruiters are using more for hiring and other personnel needs.

“If you can do that, you can attract the passive talent most employers think” is more desirable, says Peter Weddle, a recruiting industry consultant based in Stamford, Connecticut.

Phoenix-based provides a locally focused job search Web site of the same name. It also offers job fairs and other career services. is a privately held, employee-owned company.

Matos worked in HR before starting in 1999 and since then has sought to distinguish it from larger competitors such as Monster and CareerBuilder by building a network of local job boards. In all, operates under 70 names in about 30 cities, predominately in the Southwest but also in Florida and other parts of the country. The company has raised at least $50 million in venture financing from JMI Equity and Great Hill Partners.

“There’s no question that Joel is one of the strongest thought leaders in our industry, and he likes to challenge the status quo,” Matos said in a statement. “His experience in online marketing and his extensive involvement with multiple job boards and recruitment-related ventures makes him a huge asset to the team.”

A personal connection was behind the deal, according to Cheesman.

“I met Aaron in 2003. I think we’ve always had a great appreciation for each other and what we were doing, and kind of realized one day we’d do something together,” he said. made a big splash in 2006 buying the naming rights to the sports arena used by the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes in a 10-year, $30 million deal, according to local news reports. The company has made a number of acquisitions from 2004 to 2008 to expand into new markets and spent lavishly at national HR trade shows.

But the start of the recession last year put a crimp on spending across the job board business. In late 2008, laid off some employees, though Matos wouldn’t say how many, and the company was noticeably absent from the exhibit floor at this year’s SHRM annual convention.

—Michelle V. Rafter and Ed Frauenheim
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