Minitel was an experimental computer network, offering a variety of services through telephone lines. The network was the most successful internet prior to the world wide web. Millions of Minitel terminals were given to telephone subscribers for free by the French government. The platform was open and neutral, which allowed users to connect privately run services. By the mid-1990s, it already had millions of users and offered everything from weather forecasts to pornography.
One of the most successful services on Minitel was 3617 Cadremploi. It was essentially a job board for executives. From the start, they focused on quality. Through constant updating, they were able to eliminate false advertisements, filled positions, and non-serious candidates from their site. By 1997, Cadremploi was collaborating with 150 firms and posted over 1200 jobs permanently. Not only that, but it operated on a national scale, listing positions from all around the country. As a result, competing services collapsed while Cadremploi was able to maintain a rich selection of job offers and a highly satisfied customer base (Le Figaro 1997).
Cadremploi was created in 1990 with the help of 60 recruitment firms. They joined forces to publish their job offers for middle and senior executives on Minitel. The goal was to have a general and national selection of jobs. According to an article by Le Figaro, one of the keys to Cadremploi’s success was that it did not try to charge the user as much as possible. Other services often used tricks to slow down the users’ consultations, which lengthened the reading time and telephone bills. Cadremploi focused on its ease of use. Consultations were rapid and guided by selection criteria, like salary and geographic region (ZENNOU 1997). It made it possible to instantly find the job offers that were most relevant to a candidate.
The way that Cadremploi was produced reveals much about certain cultural practices and values in France. This was a service created by the wealthy elite and for the wealthy elite. It offered only executive positions and ensured that users could easily find the ones that were best for them. And by offering rapid consultations, they were able to build a loyal customer base of executives. This reveals the culture of classism in France. An article by Le Point quotes the CEO of Cadremploi saying that “by charging, we avoid there being onlookers. We do not want to attract non-serious candidates” (Le Point 1998). Essentially, Cadremploi does not want candidates from a lower economic class.
In France, there is a culture of the wealthy elite helping the wealthy elite. Cadremploi, and the way that it was produced for executives and by executives, is a good example of this cultural phenomenon.
“ACQUISITION; Publiprint prend le contrôle de Cadremploi”. Le Figaro . 17 octobre 1997. https://advance-lexis-com.proxy1.library.jhu.edu/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:49YC-XP30-TWK5-W308-00000-00&context=1516831.
Albert ZENNOU. “SERVICE; Une nouvelle ère pour Cadremploi”. Le Figaro . 03 novembre 1997. https://advance-lexis-com.proxy1.library.jhu.edu/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:49YC-Y920-TWK5-W1X3-00000-00&context=1516831.
“Trouver un emploi sur le Web”. Le Point. 21 février 1998. https://advance-lexis-com.proxy1.library.jhu.edu/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:4BWK-GPP0-TWKN-W2FT-00000-00&context=1516831.