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Would you buy Monster.com? A lesson in recruiting adaptability.

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Posted by Matt Rivera

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June 1, 2012

A recent Wall Street Journal interview with the CEO of Monster.com raises questions about the future of Monster.com. It might even be for sale. (Rumors point to LinkedIn as a potential buyer.) Whatever happens, Monster.com is a lesson in how you must adapt or die.

I’ve been involved with recruiting for more than 20 years. For the better part of the 2000s, I was involved in our company’s use of and engagement with job boards such as Monster.com. I even spent an enjoyable two years on one of Monster.com’s advisory boards for staffing companies. I got to see some of the inner workings of the job board and had great interactions with colleagues from the industry.

In hindsight, it was apparent even then that Monster.com had become a victim of its own success. The website is comparable to a tree that grows straight up instead of producing many branches and a canopy that provides many things to many people. It became a massive database of resumes and a convoluted list of job postings, but not much else.

While no business model is perfect (OK, Apple does pretty well now, but that wasn’t always the case), one of the keys to any business model is adaptability. This is true for recruiting as well.

Think about where you found candidates 10 years ago, or even five years ago. Are you still looking in the same places and talking to the same people? No. At least I hope not. Even if you’re looking in the same places, you’re probably doing it differently or having a different conversation.

Recruiting has adapted from a passive, one-on-one “I have a job; come and find it when and if you are ready” process to a proactive, community-based “I have a company, position, and lifestyle that I’d like to talk to you about, if I can find you” process.

Recruiters had to adapt to changes such as the Great Recession, cell phones, the Internet, social media, and employment regulations such as OFCCP. For example, when I started there were more hand-written applications than printed resumes. (Yes, I am getting old.)

What does this mean for the future? Continue to adapt. Social media recruiting will be around for a while, but it’s not the end. Technology will continue to evolve; however, it will never totally replace the social interaction of person-to-person contact.

With that in mind, here are three tips that I believe will still be true in the future:

  1. Continually analyze where you find candidates. This allows you to test multiple strategies and adapt them for specific skill sets or areas of your company.

  2. Engage multiple resources. Most companies no longer have and do not need huge recruiting staffs. Focus your resources both internally and externally for maximum coverage and efficiency and change your mix to adapt to changes in your company or economic conditions.

  3. View recruiting as a valuable resource, not a necessary evil. You can lament about the costs of recruiting, but if it’s done right, you will have talent when you need it, better retention and engagement, and an increased ability to compete and grow. The return on investment might vary from year to year and you will need to continually adjust to changes, but recruiting will never go away.





Speaking of things that will never go away, let's get back to my original question: Would you buy Monster.com? Of course, and someone probably will. The question will then be: What will the buyer do with Monster.com? The answer to that question is going to depend on whether the company is better at adapting than Monster.com has been.

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