A Monster Worldwide Problem?

Sep. 7.06 | About: Monster Worldwide, (MWW)

About a week ago, I pointed out a disturbing development for Monster Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ:MNST). Leading tech bloggers started a serious discussion about jobs boards, and the growing consensus is that jobs boards hosted by niche web sites work better for employers and job applicants than centralized jobs boards like Monster.com. Now it's getting worse. Jason Fried, who writes on the blog of highly influential software start-up, 37 Signals, which offers its own jobs board, had this to say:

Michael Arrington misses the point about all the targeted job boards popping up lately.

I don’t want to have my own garden, a sort of mini monster.com. I want to be a part of an ecosystem. There’s no way we can compete with the big job boards fighting individual battles. We need to partner, create a distributed system, and win virally.

He wants to mass jobs together and dilute the ads and audiences. That’s not how you compete with Monster, it’s how Monster beats you.

We’d rather focus on a specific audience instead of trying to be all things to all people. Like the “Why the 37signals Job Board?” says:

Most job boards are a crap shoot. You post an ad and face an email deluge from unqualified applicants. If you like collecting resumes, that’s fine. If you actually want to hire someone, it sucks.

The problem with huge job boards like Monster or the aggregation that Arrington envisions: There are too many ads. It’s a shotgun approach. If you want to hire just anyone, that will work. But if you want to hire the right person then you’ll need to do something different to reach that person. You need to hang out where they hang out. You need to like what they like. You need to aim accurately. Throw away the shutgun and strap on the rifle.

Targeted individual job boards work because they speak to specific audiences. We’re picky about which sites are part of our Job Board network (Signal vs. Noise, Zeldman.com, A List Apart, and the Ruby on Rails Weblog). The people who read these sites care about beautiful code and beautiful design. If you care about these things — and you want to reach people who care about these things — then you post a job on our job board.

If you want to reach executives interested in broadband, wireless, and technology, you post on the GigaOm Jobs board. If you want to reach someone interested in new company/product launches and the other stuff that is posted on TechCrunch, you post on the CrunchBoard. Yes, there’s some overlap between those audiences. But there are also significant differences.

Remember, where you post your job says a lot about your company and the kind of people you want to attract. If you want to toss your job in front of anyone and everyone, post it at Monster.com. If you want to place your job carefully and in front of the right people who care what you care about, then post it on the job board that most accurately reflects your company’s attitude/approach.

This article, and the flood of comments it generated, should worry any owner of Monster's stock.

The Internet moves fast, and it's tempting to think that the leaders today will be the leaders tomorrow. But I detect in this discussion a fundamental sentiment shift in the online jobs listings market, and that shift is away from Monster's model.