Randstad Buys Monster – But What Does That Mean for Job Boards?

Last week news broke that global recruitment company Randstad bought job board giant Monster, and the recruiting blogosphere is abuzz with discussion.

Founded in 1999, Monster.com was one of the earliest online job boards and remains notable for having stayed in the game this long. Randstad is a multinational recruiting and staffing company with 29,000 employees of their own.

Monster’s stock value has fluctuated in the past and has been in decline in recent years. The sale to Randstad has come in at a price far below their estimated value in previous years, which leads to three big questions about the deal.

  • What went wrong with Monster?
  • What does Randstad get out of the deal?
  • What does it mean for job boards that one of the earliest and oldest disappears?

For some, it looks like these questions seem as good an opportunity as any to resurrect the dubious claim that job boards are dead or dying.

Suzanne Lucas at Inc.com asks if Monster’s acquisition means that online job hunting is dead, while Rick Bell of Workforce Magazine thinks Monster’s fate could represent the decline of job boards in general, which many people still imagine as being frozen in time since 2002.

But. We’ve been here before, and as we saw with Simply Hired, it’s really not that simple.

So why wasn’t Monster as successful as its competitors?

Tim Sackett cites a stark difference in sales tactics (eerily similar to comments about Simply Hired’s sales). By contrast, he reports regularly being in touch with CareerBuilder and LinkedIn’s sales folks, but only ever hears from Monster once a year to renew their contract.

“Monster is the HR version of Blockbuster”, according to HR Capitalist Kris Dunn. He identifies a lack of innovation and a slow response to change as being crucial to the company’s decline.

Matt Charney at Recruiting Daily speculates the value for Randstad is threefold: 1) they get a database of millions of candidates, 2) Monster’s job board and partner properties serve as lead generation for the recruiting giant, and 3) they inherit a solid stream of business in the form of TalentFusion.

He also makes the point that despite the variety of options for online recruiting out there, job boards remain needed:

These changes, though, are largely iterative, and often, create a new problem instead of solving an existing one – and while they might be sexy, aggregators like Indeed, employee review sites like Glassdoor or even PPA recruitment media plays like Advorto still function off of the fundamental currency of pushing applicants from publicly posted job descriptions into a searchable database – in other words, exactly what job boards like Monster have always done.

I think John Sumser at HR Examiner hits the nail on the head with his analysis, in particular how he describes where job boards fit into online recruiting:

JobBoards are best understood as the gateway component of every recruiting ecosystem. Staffing firms and employers alike need a steady supply of candidates and they need relationships with those candidates. It’s true whether recruiting is your business or a critical function in your organization. The interface between the external market of candidates and the internal market of hiring managers simply won’t go away.

Sumser also mentions that in the early 2000s, when job boards were becoming a more important part of recruiting, companies like Monster and Yahoo Hot Jobs were afraid of offending or appearing to compete with staffing and recruiting companies. Having been around for 17 years, and having limited themselves early on in terms of innovation, it also wouldn’t be surprising if they have technology debt that’s made it harder to adapt and change.

However, this isn’t 1999 anymore. The internet, and all the tools and services accessible through it, have been incredibly democratizing. Every business can create a website and publish a job description now. And there are more and more options for more complex and interactive web content for ecommerce, retail, and yes, job boards.

You want to disrupt the recruiting industry? Or maybe just a corner of it? You don’t need a team of developers and IT specialists to launch a job board. SaaS and self-hosted software is readily available and affordable, and there are a huge number of resources available to help if you really wanna DIY it.

Are job boards dead or dying?

Sigh. No. No. Big companies that stretch themselves in too many directions or don’t push themselves to adapt run the risk of dying – but that’s true in any industry.

Job boards don’t only consist of big, lumbering giants. They are big and small and medium-sized, catering to specific regions, membership associations, specialized industries and types of contracts.

Some job boards will die, even the big old monsters. But they continue to prove useful and necessary for hiring and job search, and there are just too many successful job boards out there to categorically proclaim them as dead.

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