Q&A: Monster Wants to Lead the Job Board Evolution

Job Boards

Scott Gutz is CEO of Monster, one of the earliest sites on the web and an 800-pound gorilla in the early world of job boards. As Monster marks its 25th year, he’s focused on transforming the way employers and candidates find each other, which means harnessing advanced technology, marketing aggressively and, above all, maintaining focus on the audience. We spoke with him about his strategy and tactics.

Monster is one of the original job boards, ruled the business for a while, dipped and now seems to be coming back. How does that whole history factor into your thinking and your vision?

Monster was, as you’re probably aware, was one of the first URLs on the web. So it has an interesting history. It’s always been our mission to be very candidate-focused, and I’d suggest that as we rebuild and restore Monster to prominence, we’re focused on the candidates in order to acquire the audience necessary to perform effectively, but we’re also clearly focused on providing the right tools and solutions to employers.

I think we’re still trying to solve a fundamental problem in the industry where candidates are still a little bit lost about how to go about the process. There’s still an absence of information coming back to the candidate as to what happens after they submit their resume. I think from an employer perspective, they’re still receiving a lot of resumes that are fundamentally not the right fit. Candidates are either too qualified or under-qualified.

"There's still an absence of information coming back to the candidate as to what happens after they submit their resume." @Monster's CEO @scottgutz #HR #Jobs #HRTech Share on X

As we look at the evolution of the space, and if we look at similar industries like an Amazon or a Netflix, we see that we’ve become much more adept at recommending products and solutions based upon historical perspective. I think you can see that even from a talent acquisition perspective, there’s been a lot of activity around using artificial intelligence and machine learning to evolve to what we call “a recommendation and anticipation engine” which allows Monster to provide perspective to candidates on the right fit and provide perspective back to employers on the right fit.

But that’s just one element. Let’s assume that we do a good job from a technology perspective on the limited information that’s tied to the resume. As we think about building out the future, it’s about getting more perspective from both the employer and the candidate and using the technology to match more effectively. It’s also about introducing solutions that allow employers and candidates to interact more effectively. Even if it’s a perfect digital match, we have to make sure that there’s a match in terms of, “I could see myself working for that person, in that environment for that company in this space.”

That sounds like an effective path, but if you talked to people at Indeed or LinkedIn or Dice, they’d say much the same thing. How are you going to distinguish yourself?

Monster’s Scott Gutz

One of the things that we know is that today, for the most part, we’re asking candidates to provide a resume and then all of the solution providers parse that resume. At Monster, what we’re trying to do is gather more information, during the onboarding process, about what a candidate might be interested in when they’re looking to make a change. There’s a significant percentage of candidates who are passive—meaning they’re not actively looking for jobs. We’re trying to figure out which of those candidates are always thinking about what might happen next. What would trigger them to take an action?

By way of example, it might be that we ask for someone’s perspective on commute time or salary, just as indicative elements that we might capture in order to determine whether or not a job actually meets those criteria. Then we feed that back to them.

We’re also using analytics where we calculate what we call a fit index. This is a complex algorithm that’s based on machine learning, for the most part. It indicates to a candidate that we know from their background and what they ‘ve shared that there are these things we understand about them. We then look at a particular position and regularly feed back to them that we’ve got X number of [appropriate] new positions that have come into the system.

We may think that one of these positions is actually 90-plus percent fit, but we’re also saying positions two, three, four and five are 70 percent, 50 percent, all the way down to 10 percent. Even though that person might be categorized as a software developer, we’re looking at what they’ve said, then giving them perspective on their relative fit for a job.

So that’s one example. We’re also trying to engage candidates more effectively by giving them perspective on what’s happened since were last on Monster. We’re tracking the number of jobs they’ve viewed, the number of jobs they’ve applied to. We’re getting perspective on where they are in the process and whether or not an employer has viewed their resume.  

How will you make sure providing more information isn’t a tedious chore for candidates?

We’re now north of 50 percent of our traffic coming in from a mobile device, so we absolutely have a mobile-first approach. One of the things we do is ask candidates to provide more information. Just by way of example, there’s a mobile-based personality test that allows users to pick between two pictures. This two-minute test allows us to gather a bit more perspective. When we gather a bit more perspective, we’re able to feed that back to the candidate and we’re able to tie that to the types of jobs that we think are potential matches. Not only that, but we give them a perspective that says you’re looking for these types of jobs, but based on what we understand about your personality, there are other categories you should also be looking into.

So how do you apply that strategy to passive job seekers? I mean, they’re not going to come to Monster because they’re not looking for a job. How do you attract them?

Sure. There’s a lot that we do from an audience-acquisition perspective. We’re always running broad media campaigns. We’re always placing jobs in the social space where we think that type of candidate might be interacting. That could be basic sites like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, but also those social networks that are specific to a profession or age group. There are a variety of mechanisms that we use in addition to the obvious ones like SEO and Google for jobs.

Are you satisfied with the results you’re getting?

I’m not satisfied as of yet. We have a lot of really interesting initiatives that are starting to generate momentum, and it’s my job to never be satisfied and to make sure that we’re constantly improving and the metrics keep moving in the right direction. Do I feel like we’ve got really strong approaches, a strong understanding of what works? I’d say that’s developing month by month.

Monster sees video becoming more and more important to job search. What are you planning to do, and do you think video’s a fad or that it’s going to last?

We know videos are much more effective at keeping a candidate’s attention than block text. We know that if there’s  a video, there’s a likelihood that people will spend more time actually thinking about that particular video.

We’ve started with something that really didn’t exist in the marketplace, which is giving the employer the ability, the hiring manager, the opportunity to say, “I’m Scott, I work at this company. I’ve got 20 people in my group and we’re looking for software developers with these types of skills.” And you have people waving in the background saying this is a great place to work. Then in 60 seconds candidates have the ability to click into that video.

That’s what we’ve done so far. We don’t have an expectation to facilitate the video interview process between candidates and employers. There’s plenty of technologies that do that.

What we want to do on the candidate side is allow candidates to respond with a 60-second video of their own about why they think they’re a good candidate based on what they’ve seen. We could also give the employer the opportunity to get any interested candidates to answer a few questions, so we can give them a bit of perspective on how they think in those areas.

One thing about video is that you can’t easily tag it or index it. Does that matter?  

To say we’ve optimized performance would be an exaggeration, but I can tell you that in the construction of Monster Studios, all of the tagging-related capabilities were very much taken into consideration. The other thing to state, which is obvious if you understand how Google works from a search engine optimization perspective, is that Google tends to favor elements which are differentiated. So we believe—and we’re starting to see more and more—that as videos come live at Monster we’ll have an advantage by offering an element which isn’t included in other job ads when Google starts to rank.

Let’s talk about the industry. Job boards are facing a fundamental shift in the in the landscape today. They used to be almost destinations, but now more recruiters are using specialized sites like GitHub or Stack Overflow. What’s your long-range view of where the industry ‘s going, and where Monster’s going?  

If I were to look at the talent acquisition ecosystem, I’d suggest there’s a variety of different businesses where Monster is invested. There’s a job board component that comes with multiple elements. We have employer-branding solutions that help employers create compelling career sites. In our advanced company profiles, we allow employer job sites to exist within the Monster framework. We offer solutions to employers that allow us to act on their behalf and deliver a candidate through a hiring process that we run. So there are a variety of ways that we look at the overall ecosystem, and we’re looking at a variety of different services that complement a pure job board. We look at services as being a growth business and we look at the overall talent acquisition process as being a process in which Monster intends to participate in multiple areas.

The other thing that I’d mention is that job boards traditionally have done a mediocre job of matching and finding the right fit. We’re collectively guilty of delivering tons of applicants irrespective of whether or not they’re the right applicants. I think we’re probably guilty of offering too many jobs to candidates that they may be fundamentally unqualified for. So when we look at this transformation of helping employers and candidates find the right fit, there are many things that we attempt to do from a job board evolution perspective to get to outcomes that we think are better than those that exist today. That’s why I believe there’s an opportunity for Monster to really evolve and grow and innovate.

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