Monster’s New Resume Search Is a Winner

Monster LogoWhen Monster bought Trovix in the summer of 2008, the blogosphere popped with wonder at how the job board would make use of Trovix’ job matching technology.

Forrester Research analyst Zach Thomas suggested that, “By making this acquisition, Monster is putting a real emphasis on search and they believe it will help them leap-frog the competition.” Others were less generous.

The answer has been coming ever since Monster began beta testing Power Resume Search several months ago. A few weeks ago, confident that its $100 million investment was the homerun it expected, Monster turned Power Search live, premiering it during an analyst meeting that was also webcast over a marathon five hours or so.

Tuesday, the company demoed the new search for a group of recruitment consultants and bloggers. And the result was no mere home run; think grand slam.

In a word, Monster’s new Power Resume Search is stunning. Stunning in its simplicity. Stunning in its speed. Stunning in its ability to intuit skills from a title, and to rank and rerank the resulting candidates depending on what skills and other qualities you decide important. Stunning in its potential for changing the job board business.

Power Resume Search ScreenIf you haven’t tried it for yourself, go here and test it out. What you’ll discover is that you can source candidates (if you really want) simply by entering a job title. Look at the results. Add a specific skill or a degree or some other parameter and the ranking changes.

What makes Power Resume Search different — and better — than the typical keyword resume search is that it has the intelligence to cut through the duff. The examples the Monster folks used in the demo were searches for bankers and lawyers. But try your own search, for, say a bookkeeper. Instead of getting a list of hundreds of resumes with bookkeeper in the text, you get a few dozen candidates who are bookkeepers and are most likely to be looking for that kind of work.

Trovix built its job-matching capability around context and concepts. A bookkeeper doesn’t need an understanding of Sarbanes-Oxley; a CFO does. You know that. But unless you exclude candidates with that term in their resume in a standard keyword search, you’re going to get CFO candidates with bookkeeping in their backgrounds along with accountants and … you get the idea.

It’s “the world’s best search engine,” said Monster’s Javid Muhammedali at the beginning of the demo. Google might take issue with the boast, but he is certainly on the mark when he says one of the virtues of Power Resume Search is that it is a search engine “that really helps you stop searching.”

One incidental, yet valuable feature is how a search can unearth skills not listed in the job req, which could or should be. It helps drive the recruiting process forward by arming recruiters with information they can take back to the hiring manager, Muhammedali explained.

Monster DNAIt has some other nice touches, including how it presents candidate information and the side-by-side comparison of candidates.

Power Resume Search has a counterpart for job seekers in Power Job Search.

Article Continues Below

I ran a few job searches on a variety of different titles and got great results, which, in my case, meant fewer, but more accurate results. Monster showed this off during the demo using “business development manager” for the search with the result that all nine listings were specific to the title.

Monster points out that this search has benefits for the employer: the ad visibility improves, as does the likelihood that the applicants will be of higher quality since an ad won’t just turn up in a search because it happens to contain the seeker’s keywords.

Before you go away thinking all your sourcing problems are solved, know that this is a premium service, for which Monster will charge $845 for a two-week access. Right now, it’s a bargain at $260 for three days of searching in an area.

It’s also better at sourcing some types of jobs than others. New job terminology has to be added by Monster, though you can search for a specific keyword in a resume. And it won’t store search histories for OFCCP auditing until early next year.

Even so, it’s a big step. For Monster, it’s a $100 million-plus step. The company spent $72.5 million to acquire Trovix and $30-$35 million more integrating it into the job board. Monster intends to get back its investment and then some.

Muhammedali and Louis Gagnon, SVP Global Products, said the new search opens the door to differential pricing for resume sourcing. It probably won’t be long before Monster puts a higher price on CFOs than on bookkeepers.

Why can’t they do that now? They probably could, but the technical management is a challenge, since the resumes of CFOs and bookkeepers may well be part of the search results in a standard keyword search. But the Trovix powered search is smart enough to know that when you’re looking for a CFO, you don’t want a bookkeeper who reports to a CFO.

Narrowing down results with high precision saves time. Lots of time. And gets better results. That’s worth something.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.

Topics

46 Comments on “Monster’s New Resume Search Is a Winner

  1. Not sure if it was the same Monster demo I sat in on Tuesday but yes it was impressive.

    Search, however, is a highly competitive area with everyone from Google to Bing on down vying for the top spot.

    Whether Monster sustains more than a momentary leg up, time will tell.

  2. I have seen a demo of Power Resume Search and I am impressed. It has very attractive semantic features. As an example, you can look for someone with 5-7 years of experience, or someone who is not a job hopper! What makes the search outstanding is the simplicity and the elegance of the user interface. I have seen so many other products that have complex, hard to understand UI, made, of course, by software engineers who tried to squeeze extra features into one screen and forgot to run usability tests.

    One thing that is missing from the power search though is Boolean! It’s not possible to exclude a term from a search, for example. I’d say it makes the tool less convenient than it could be. Also, since there’s still life outside of the (perhaps huge) Monster resume DB, recruiters do not have an option of dropping Boolean. (This would be off topic but I think AND OR and NOT are easy; what makes Boolean hard is operators and special characters.) Of course, I am biased. 🙂

    Congratulations to Monster on a nice product!
    Irina

  3. I was part of a focus group on this new search functionality form Monster.com and was very impressed with the results that were generated. One question that was proposed was how much more would you be willing to pay for this new search function. They couldn’t or wouldn’t tell us if it would replace the existing search function, but for what I just read this is going to be a premium offering. Looks to be very costly for a small and medium size businesses. Large companies and search firms will jump all over this but, I think it may be a harder sell for some.

  4. Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed with my demo. The salesperson emphasized that this will eliminate the need for running boolean searches. I suppose that would be a good thing for HR teams who may not be familiar with internet sourcing. Candidate comparison and work history breakdowns are definitely nice touches for someone who will likely forward over stacks of resumes and printouts to a hiring manager then disappear from the process. Ultimately, it will slice through the resume db in a more elegant fashion, but its no grand slam.

  5. We already pay for a search license. Why does Monster think we should pay more for a “better” search license? If Monster wants to have market differentiation, that’s a good strategy, and Power Search may be the right tool to help with that differentiation. But, it should be part of their service, not an extra fee.

  6. I’m not impressed at all. I have used their Power Resume Search on many occasions and continuously find myself reverting back to the classic search. I think if the position has a more straightforward title then it would work well, however, I recruit for many positions that are multi-disciplinary and have odd titles. The “matching” does not match. I think if Monster spent $100M on this, it should have a more intelligent matching capability – this to include the keyword section which does not allow for more unique terms.

  7. The rep who conducted my demonstration told me that the power search would “do my thinking for me.” Thanks, but I prefer to do my own thinking. Power search is interesting and I believe Monster is on to something, but the value is not there for the premium charged. There is greater value in a LinkedIn Pro membership than in Monster’s power search.

    It seems that rather than being more competitive to other search options and job boards, Monster is looking for revenue to cover their large investment.

  8. I like the effort in improving the search. Monster deserves credit for raising the bar. Hype aside the real value is in offering short duration access at a rational cost. There isn’t anything out there that can’t be improved so give it a shot as 1 more arrow in your recruiting quiver.

  9. New paint on a old fence just makes it look better. It is still an old fence. The price also makes it unattractive to most Talent Acquisition organizations. Monster if you want to make a difference create tools on the basic ideas around relationship building and take them to the next level. You will get my attention at that point.

  10. Those of you who agree with me on the extra fees… make your voice known by using your checkbook! Tell them you won’t pay! I did.

    And, by the way, they didn’t even respond when I told them I thought it should be part of what we already pay for.

  11. Any new functionality in terms of searching will certainly make everyone’s job a little easier. Is it worth more money? I don’t think so. The real difficulty in using monster or any of the main job boards is not in terms of the quality of their tools but the quality of the job posters. I still find that my best candidates are not posted at all. This tool may help find the gold nugget mixed in with the sand but it can’t eliminate the fools gold and it’s still like panning for gold in the Pacific.

  12. Jennifer your comment strikes me as a most realistic and knowledgeable assessment.

    My organization has been intimately involved with resume search since the first hour of business. It’s a complex subject involving multiple audiences and multiple uses for search results. There are multiple material unanswered questions involved:

    – is there anything specific to resume search that speaks to different methodologies than those used in other mission-critical text search solutions ? For instance does Google use a specific method or not? And if not, why not? Is it something specific to recruiting?

    – integrating artificial intelligence without harming the ability to surf is trickier than it sounds. Surfing is a metacognitive strategy that depends on the end-user changing a single variable (the search string) and comparing the differing results when run against the same data set. When they search engine applies its Mojo, the end-user has no way to determine how the changed search terms change the result set: it’s a black box. Not being able to surf properly is a serious compromise.

    – the information that a resume conveys is massively more complex than almost anybody realizes except those doing the actual work- Jennifer for example. Boolean Black Belt, a blogger very interested in search, is not necessarily even looking for skills or keywords in the conventional sense- he uses them as a proxy for what he is actually looking for- what he calls “trajectory”. He is an expert at finding the right skills and keywords, but what he really must know is what the person is doing, what they are capable of, how did they get there, and where are they going. That’s what recruiting really is.

    John I think you unintentionally nailed it in your hypothetical bookkeeper search. While it’s true that bookkeepers don’t generally need to be experts on SOX, are you suggesting that it’s a good idea for a search engine to suppress a would-be bookkeeper with SOX experience relative to one without that key word in their materials ?

    – what are you doing about the ability to tag results? Tagging is a hugely powerful a meta-cognitive technique to alter and improve future search results; which brings up the 100 million-dollar question:

    – what are you doing with the results in the first place ? In third-party recruiting, it’s common for a practitioner to be aware of almost every candidate available in a specific market niche. Jeff Kaye calls it “Market Mastery”. Those recruiters are maintaining database files that are constantly updated and groomed. Skills, skill levels, and geography are the building blocks, but timing and velocity is the terrain. Search is very important to find and track new candidates, and the searches are very specific. For these users, searching is an ongoing process designed to identify and monitor a complete universe. In volume corporate hiring, on the other hand, search is often done to make a specific hire at a specific time; missing all kinds of results but also producing a decent volume of appropriate results is perfectly acceptable and even desirable. The cost of inaccurate results will vary greatly. And that’s why I expect a variety of viewpoints on the value of Monster’s new offering.

    – are the applied techniques permanent or situational ? If you use artificial intelligence to parse resumes and load them to database, the parser’s decisions are final, but if you apply a parsing filter in real-time against a neutral data set, it’s a different story.

    -which features are really helpful, non-ambiguous, and likely to be effective in most search situations ? Well, I’d look at Google of course. The Google suggest feature is great (and can produce fun and interesting results) and the “did you mean” syntax and spelling engine is obviously also great. Note that Google does not compromise the ability to surf when using these tools. I’d like to see a full-realizations of those features in our solutions

    There are a variety of other angles here; interesting legal questions (OFCCP requires you to track search terms, but how can you do that when you don’t know what they are?) philosophical questions (just how do we process the information on a resume and now beyond the resume in social media or online content) and process questions (for a given business condition, how is ROI calculated from differing search strategy) but I think I’ve made my fundamental point here.

    Practically since the day computers were invented some people have been taking other people’s money by suggesting that the computer can make better decisions than human beings. It’s believable because it’s demonstrably true in many cases, from chess moves to Sully’s control stick. But in the realm of human affairs, computers have been disastrously inferior to human decision making, lately on Wall Street, but elsewhere too.

    As always, if you like it, go ahead and buy it, but beware that artificial intelligence in resume search has itself an excellent resume of hype, failure, and malinvestment.

    Maybe this time it will be different.

    But not for me. If a salesman tells me something will do my thinking for me, I’d say the interview is over.

  13. Just got the monthly note about the HR market from the stock analysts R.W. Baird, which mentions Monster’s new search functionality (which Baird likes, and says offers a competitive advantage over Monster’s competitors and an instrument to blunt LinkedIn’s threat). Baird says the new search “allows recruiters to efficiently find high-performing candidates in Monster’s vast resume database, including passive candidates.”

    But if you’re in Monster’s resume database, you’re not passive, right?

  14. I hope the phrase “passive candidate” has a short life. It’s a creepy phrase to begin with and a concept grounded in the rules of a lost world…you never hear salespeople talking about “passive buyers” – only warm v. cold leads.

    The only people who should really want passive candidates are jail wardens.

  15. I understand why Monster made the investment, and who the target market of this feature is (less saavy sourcers/recruiters who have a large recruiting budget). My 2 cents is that in the long run Monster would do better to spend their money to attract more skilled professionals to the site.

  16. Ditto that Ryan. The gold is in the data. So what if it takes some time to get to it? At least you know you are not overlooking a good candidate because you control the filters and logic.

  17. Todd and Ryan: The problem is that monster can’t control who posts. They can’t isolate what you may think is a gold candidate. In fact, if you had a meeting with a group of recruiters, even we could not agree on which candidates are gold. The problem is that monster is like a life jacket for job seekers with problems. You can’t stop them from posting so their numbers are high. The really good candidates know this and many do not post their resumes. In fact I advise my candidates to not post their resume unless they’re desperate. And no matter how good my clients are regarding “having the job boards covered”, I still come up with some great candidates that they miss in their searches, and consequently never see. So consider monster.com and any job board or social network to be just a tool and don’t lose sight of the goal of hiring the best talent. A colleague of mine has a motto “smile and dial”. Using our proprietary data bases is still the best way to find the best candidates.

  18. Yes, but Monster can spend their dollars on marketing to appeal to and encourage higher “value”/A candidates to post resumes. They are in a position to shape their brand this way if they wished. Also, I don’t need them to identify “the gold”. The current basic search functions are sufficient for me to tease out any qualified candidates. As a recruiter, I don’t need a slicker, more automated search function – I need the biggest pool of people to increase the likelyhood I can find the candidates I need.

    FWIW, I have made some great hires from Monster but overall the site has an extremely limited utility for me.

  19. Here is the problem thought. Monster doesn’t need to appeal to or encourage higher value candidates. They make a lot of money off of companies who are willing to hire marginal candidates in many cases. It’s like a newspaper subscription. So long as there is content and companies are willing to pay, the don’t really care if the content is great or if a high % of people find jobs by postings. They only care that people post so that they can claim a large number of resumes to get companies to buy the product. Applicant A doesn’t talk to applicant B so no one really knows the effectiveness of posting; and company X doesn’t talk to company Y to know how effective it is for them. Monster just needs resumes and subscribers and doesn’t care about the rest. And that is why they’ll charge for new features. They don’t care if you’re more efficient – only that you buy.

  20. @Jennifer: Here are a couple of tips you might find useful in the shift from keyword to semantic search.

    One of the capabilities of the search engine is to search for multiple titles simultaneously. You can do this in two different ways – the first is to search on a job function e.g. enter “sales” or “marketing” or “finance” in the job title field (without quotes). This type of search automatically includes sales titles at all levels and specializations in the results.

    The second approach is to search for two or more specific titles – e.g. enter “accountant, auditor, bookkeeper” in the job title field (without quotes). This will include those three specific titles and is especially useful when looking for multi-disciplinary jobs or positions that have multiple ‘feeder’ jobs.

    Hopefully, you’ll see quite a difference with this approach. I don’t know what specific positions you are trying to fill, but feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

    Javid Muhammedali
    Director, Product Management
    Monster

  21. Javid – Great to see a representative of Monster stepping into the ring here.

    Whatever the merits of your technology, a willingness to engage prospect communities on a public channel like this demonstrates a desire to get the details right.

    Social media has let the branding genie out of the bottle – a big problem for some but a big opportunity for those that choose to engage.

  22. Ok, I must admit I am not a recruiter but isn’t the whole concept of the resume outdated? The job seekers give their resume for free to Monster so that Monster can make millions off of it = mistake #1 – There are millions and millions of free resumes and profiles on the open web = mistake #2 Can’t someone come up with a product that accesses these millions of resumes in a simple and logical way with a micro-payment business model? Monster, engage with your job seekers don’t steel and profit from them.

  23. Gregg, I agree with you. I don’t love it when vendors just pump their products out of context. But I think Monster providing useful tips is valuable. Todd

  24. Michelle, what profit are you talking about? Monster has lost more than $100 million in the last three years.

    Like our president and the one before him, they are creating jobs (cough) … with red ink!

  25. I wish Monster the best of luck. TalentFilter from TalentDrive delivers conceptual and keyword results. With the resume tsunami around the corner recruiters will not have the time to sift thru the mass volume of resumes available on free and paid sites. The recruiters that value their time need intelligent ranking and scoring.

    Martin I agree with passive comment with 46% of workforce looking for change and over 10% unemployed…the lines between “active” and “passive” are blurred.

  26. Was that an Ad for Talentfilter? There are a lot of tools like that on the market but you still need good recruiters conducting the searches and determining the best candidates. As baby boomers retire and create a shortage of rougly 6-8 million professionals, the fine art of recruiting will be more critical. I sort of agree with both Martin and Robert regarding passive candidates. But I think we all have a different view of passive. I have candidates who do not post, are employed and are really good. They’re highly selective and they aren’t killing themselves looking for a new position. BUT they are in play. If I present the right position to them, they will implement a job change. That to me is a passive candidate as contrasted from an active candidate who is posted on every job board, contacting every recruiter, and mass mailing their resume to hundreds of companies I’ve heard people label passive as the candidate who really likes their job and who isn’t looking at all. I would argue that that person is not a candidate at all.

  27. Dennis you caught me…we all do a little self promoting on these posts!I agree with your statements. We endorse and embrace all sources. Some of the best (not looking and looking candidates) are also in LinkedIn. Dennnis it sounds like you are in the top of your profession. It truly takes more skill to put a highly selective candidate in PLAY.Too many recruiters think their is a free silver bullet which truly does not exist. While resumes do not exist on LinkedIn; I am amazed at how well our scoring works with LinkedIn profiles. The wealth of talent that can be quickly sourced via free, paid and LinkedIn is incredible. Getting job orders and quickly matching quality talent is the key to recruiters success.

  28. What year is it? 2009. At CareerSite we introduced technology that was almost the same in 1995. Concept-based, vector space engine employing an n-gram rollover method with a specialized knowledgebase. They do have a much slicker implementation using new UI techniques. I guess it did not take that long for another player to duplicate and improve upon what we pioneered 14 years ago. I give those Trovix guys a ton of credit for getting $72.5 million. It seems to reflect either great selling skills, cluelessness or desperation to get into the market with this feature on Monster’s part, or a combination.

  29. To be straight-forward, I disregard almost every new ‘technology’ that makes finding candidates easier when the company making this claim is a Monster, CareerBuilder, Hot Jobs, etc. As others have said in this thread, I don’t see why this is so much better than boolean logic? With boolean, I get EXACTLY what I ask for. When it comes to a resume database, I only care about the candidates… which is why I’m a former Monster client and current CB client.

    To me, as many have said, this is geared towards organizations that don’t want to or dont know how to use boolean logic… which has been attempted many times before… this just looks cooler. I’ve always considered it a known fact that Monster simply has fewer ‘higher-end’ candidates. I’m not selling CB here (far from it)… I’m just stating what I’ve always considered fact.

    However, this thread made me do 1 thing… call the monster rep that I’ve been ignoring for 2 months to see what all the fuss is about.

  30. @Martin – yes, you are right that Resumix had *client server* applicant tracking software pre- 1995 with a knowledgebase. You can add Restrac to that list among others. I was referring to web-based software that could handle millions of users – with millisecond response search/match times – something resumix and restrac/webhire had difficulty with back then. Software delivered as a service in 1995 was considered new. MonsterBoard, OCC, and others were using keyword based searching. I have been out of the industry for quite a while and occasionally stumble across articles like this one commenting on the new-new thing without any context or apparent knowledge of the industry’s history – and read them with amusement.

  31. Ed, the trovix/Monster engine is NOT a conceptual search engine as you describe. It is indeed a true semantic engine and is vastly more accurate than conceptual search engines by virtue of its ability to eliminate false matches wherein a person has a certain skill, but that skill lies outside their core competency. The trovix engine and our Sovren engine are similar in many respects and employ many of the same technologies. In our internal tests, true semantic profile-matching engines eliminate 97-99% of the noise matches generated by conceptual search engines on non-trivial queries.

  32. @Robert – Trovix’s own site uses the word “concept” (not conceptual) to describe their technology. My point was simply that Trovix’s stuff was not new – right down to the verbiage on http://www.trovix.com/about/technology.jsp describing their technology which could described CareerSite’s technology in 1995. Some of that goes for your site’s as well. Sorry. Your stuff is an evolutionary step from what we had then. We had a specialized taxonomy with over 40,000 terms and concepts in 7 categories. Hierarchical. We did Profile Matching not keyword just like your stuff. And yours is very good stuff. Much better than what we had. We never fully developed the context part. I am not being negative. I appreciate what you did more than most since we are working on the same problems. You went on to solve some of the problems we did not after we got in bed with the sleepy newspapers who mostly viewed technology as a cost to be cut. Nice job. Good luck. I don’t miss the industry.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *