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? Probably 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.

One thought on “Monster’s Failure: Too Much Change and Fragmentation

  1. Here’s a good comment that came into LinkedIn from longtime local media leader Dane Madsen:

    Peter – Great observation. Adding to this, as a consumer of job board services from both sides of the desk, the actual product degraded as a contributor of the demise. As an employer, the candidates (as you noted) were not good matches including basic issues of geography and required skills with little ability to filter the applicants (even in Linked In – a major failure for us). As a job seeker, the boards deliver useless leads to the user. In my case, setting aside that most of these roles have been filled prior to hitting the boards, while I was interested in CxO roles, among the 5 to 10 (usually only 3 discrete roles) close matches, hundreds of near but far matches, I get 50 to 100 “leads” per week that “perfectly match” my “skills and accomplishments” – for Executive Assistant (yes, I get the machine match to “to the CEO” as the trigger). That being the case, and my uncontrollable need to tinker, I could not refine the searches to any real extent and further, could not get a response from any of the services that had any interest in improving results. Ultimately, they handed Linked In the dominant role, but through self inflicted wounds.

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