Monster’s Failure: Too Much Change and Fragmentation

Monster once dominated the online recruitment space — and its founders once headlined our conferences on local innovation. But it has been sliding for years. The company is now poised to be sold to Randstad, a Swiss HR firm for around $429 Million, or a fraction of its $6 billion valuation 10 years ago.

We haven’t closely followed recruitment since the early 2000s. Recruitment advertising, of course, had once been a pillar of the newspaper industry – one of the “Big 3” classifieds, alongside auto and real estate. But that was before recruitment outgrew local boundaries and became a major tech battle-zone driven by semantic search-and-match job listings, mapping and communities of interest.

A growing part of the market has moved to niche specialties, such as trade associations and special interest groups. At the same time, relocation, job fairs and ancillary verticals such as vocational education proved less important than once thought.

For the past 10 years or more, the job boards — Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed — muddled through all these trends. On the competitive front, however, they also had to contend with the rise of job ad aggregation, candidate profile aggregation, and a loss of market share to niche specialists. More impactful was the rise of social media as a DIY alternative, particularly LinkedIn.

All of this caused the job boards share of the market to slip precariously. Partially, this is because their effectiveness has diminished rapidly. The Aberdeen Group noted in recent research that the job boards are delivering too many candidates, and less than 10 percent of them even match the qualifications in the job description.

Regarding Monster’s specific decline, the analysts that follow the industry (i.e. AIMGroup) cite years of poor management, bad execution and a one-dimensional and short-sighted, sales- driven culture.

Is it just Monster? Prbably not. Careerbuilder, Indeed and other job boards aren’t doing much better. What we have here is a case study for an industry that has moved inexpertly in too many directions at once; lost its core; and ultimately, lost touch with customers.

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