What Would Happen if Monster Vanished? A Speculation

These are exciting times for the online recruiting industry: acquisitions (Jobs2Web, Bullhorn), IPOs (LinkedIn), and flame-outs (BranchOut). The majority of job boards I talk with are experiencing very strong business (and revenues), despite a frustratingly slow recovery. But there’s been a fly in the ointment (well, more than one, but I’ll leave those for another time).

Monster is having problems. A slumping stock price. Confusion in the boardroom. A publicly stated desire to sell itself. All this despite the fact that the company has an impressive client list, continues to launch new products and services (BeKnown, 6Sense, SeeMore), and employs many bright and capable people.

So the other day, I began wondering: what might happen if Monster vanished? No sale, no resurgence in health — just an ever-increasing death spiral that left the company bankrupt and unable to compete. Yes, I realize this is extremely unlikely. b=But it’s interesting to contemplate, nonetheless.

First, some numbers.

  • $246 million in revenue for Q1 2012 (down $18M from the same quarter in 2011)
  • $120 million in revenue for Q1 2012 in North America (down about $4M from same quarter in 2011)
  • Expect to see bookings go up in Q2 year over year
  • 400 employees laid off early this year
  • Spending about 23.5% on marketing and promotion

Not numbers to shake the world — but the company has been around for a while, and it gets progressively harder to grow the bigger you become.

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However … what might happen if Monster went the way of Pets.com or eToys? Let us consider:

  • $1 billion ‘hole of opportunity’ would open in the job board world. I suspect that Indeed, LinkedIn, and CareerBuilder would battle hard to fill it.
  • Thousands of clients would have portions of their recruiting budget “freed up.” Many of them would use the opportunity to experiment with other sites and techniques. (And some would bank the savings, only to discover later that they are a few candidates short of their goal).
  • The industry would be flooded with talented but unemployed former Monster employees. Some would no doubt start their own businesses. This could result in even more growth in the industry.
  • There would be acquisitions and confusion in the non-U.S. markets where Monster is strongest as indigenous companies (and new players) fight to come out on top.
  • There would be empty real estate in Maynard, Massachusetts.
  • There would be a significant uptick in “job-boards-are-dying” opinion pieces.
  • Key technology (such as 6Sense) would be acquired by competitors or perhaps even a job board software company.
  • Many stockholders would be very unhappy. 
  • It would become much more difficult for any job board company to go public or attract venture funding. (Correspondingly, this might signal the death knell of the term “job board,” at least as far as those seeking funding are concerned).

I don’t think it will happen. What do you think? What other changes did I miss?

Jeff Dickey-Chasins is a veteran of the job board, publishing, and e-learning industries. Jeff was the original marketing director for Dice.com, growing it from $7 million to $65+ million in three years. He has worked with numerous job boards and HR-related sites over the past 20 years. His site can be found at JobBoardDoctor.


11 Comments on “What Would Happen if Monster Vanished? A Speculation

  1. Other changes would include:

    1. Far fewer free alcoholic beverages consumed by human resource professionals at just about every recruiting conference.

    2. Reduced revenue by the airlines which charge for checked baggage as the same HR professionals won’t need to travel to the same conferences with extra luggage into which they can fit mammoth amounts of stuffed animals and other such swag.

    3. Significant increase in whispered comments by the same HR professionals about how they should have realized how much value they received from Monster but never realized it because two decades after their applicant tracking systems were first created they still are unable or unwilling to properly track the source of the applicants.

    4. Sudden increase by same HR professionals to same ATS vendors to insist that same ATS vendors once and for all stop pretending that drop down “how did you hear about us” lists actually produce meaningful data when the listed sources include the career site (by definition at best a destination and certainly never a source) and when studies show that 83% of candidates incorrectly self-identify their source.

    5. Gradual increase by same HR professionals of “remember the good old days” stories about those times in the 1990’s, 2000’s, and 2010’s when you could actually hire a highly qualified person within weeks for the cost of a job posting ad.

  2. Good observations Jeff. I suspect if Monster disappeared, you are correct about the other companies stepping up to fill its space. I would hope, however, that recruiters would have to learn how to recruit rather than hoping to find a resume online.

  3. 1 I would receive much less emails from Colleges offering more schooling for fields that I am not interested in.
    2 I would be less frustrated at having to peek at the job listings that I want to see since most of the screen is filled with ads for jobs I don’t want and adds for colleges.
    3 I could more easily ignore the boundless job listings that have nothing to do with the search that I am trying to do. I.E. searching for automotive jobs and getting nursing jobs in the search results.
    4 Less search results for “nationwide” jobs while searching in a 30 mile radius from my zip code.
    5 Less franchise offers in my search results.
    6 Less cross posting. I.E. multiple ads from the same company with different headers for the same job.
    7 I won’t have to deal with my default zip code randomly changing to a different state and then emailing me the new search results for jobs thousands of miles away.

    At the end of the day, the job seeker is the end user. Annoying the end user in any business is a recipe for disaster.

  4. First and foremost, I’d like to self-identify as a third party tech recruiter. I can’t really think of how this would *truly* impact my world. If anything, it would consolidate the talent pool into more centralized, effective, more searchable formats. To me, it seems like Monster is nothing but ads, scammy work-from-home sales jobs, and the occasional real posting that immediately gets forced to the bottom of the list by spammy postings.

    That being said, I think that most candidates today use job aggregaters to find the types of positions they’re seeking. I realize that sites like Indeed (of course) do pull from Monster, but is it really going to be crippling? Probably not.

    At the end of the day, in my world, it’s tough to find a truly placable candidate on Monster or Careerbuilder. I know that’s not the case in all industries, but that’s my $0.02.

  5. I think this will reaffirm the notion that life span of a company, however successful, in the internet age is 10-15 years max – unless it is always paranoid and fully ready to reinvent itself.

    Monster lost ability to innovate – and in turn lost the edge.

  6. First, Steve’s comments are priceless…and I need a link to that ATS report so I can get all of our clients to use automated URL tracking.

    Monster’s fall from grace will happen. Go ahead, buy a 100×100 booth at SHRM – it isn’t going to change inevitable. It was an amazing place to work and yes there are truckloads of talented people who will come into the marketplace as it continues to spiral.

    The hole in the recruiting budgets is already starting to happen because 90% of the people I have spoken with since starting HireClix two years ago have either sworn off Monster or have dramatically cut their spend. HR Teams must explore other options and shoving all their chips to CareerBuilder, Dice, Indeed or LinkedIn as a knee jerk reaction is also a concern. Now is the time to test and learn methodically, especially on these other big name sites who are strong sources of candidates.

    Recruiting teams need to start with a clean slate and challenge everything they spend money on and answer one question. What’s my new recruitment marketing mix? We are helping people answer that everyday and it will take most companies 2-3 years to feel like they are on firm ground again because of new candidate behavior and the flood of new recruiting tech vendors. Hold on folks, Monster’s deterioration is only the start…

  7. Neil — I should have included the link to the study showing that 83 percent of candidates incorrectly self-identify their source even though they see an ad on a job board, click from that ad directly to the employer’s career site, and immediately apply using a form with a drop-down box that lists the name of the job board.

    I can only imagine how much higher that 83 percent would get if the name of the job board isn’t listed, if “career site” or some incorrect source is listed as an option, or if the candidate is not able to immediately self-identify such as if the candidate is asked by reply email, phone, or even at an interview.

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