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Randstad buys Monster – and big-brand digital recruitment remains rubbish

On the news that Dutch recruitment giant Randstad was buying dot-com-death-match survivor Monster for $429 million for its “industry leading technology platform and easy to use digital, social and mobile solutions” I got a bit excited.


I know Monster is aiming to do good things for diversity in the UK’s tech workforce with its support for the TechTalent Charter, so I assumed, heck, this platform must be pretty damn good.

And thank goodness, I thought, because the UK has a digital skills crisis, a productivity problem and we’ve just thrown the future hiring market into flux post-Brexit.

And then I headed to Monster and accidentally applied for a Leisure and Middles East sales job, without even entering my email.


And I was then asked for my email so Monster could send me more jobs, without an opt out. So far… so not good.

Perhaps Randstad was alluding to the TalentBin ‘people aggregator’ that Monster acquired (clearly not for the name!) in 2014. The demo version works like a search engine for people, although not as well as, say, Google.

But, I can assure you the paid version is…

Talent Bin

Just the right sentiment for a responsible, modern recruitment firm.

On doing a little more snooping, with the help of the preeminent authority on the topic, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), I found that Monster is really not in great shape.

Although SIA says it’s the fifth-largest job board globally, in a market that grew 11 per cent last year, Monster’s revenue declined 13 per cent.

SIA explains:

“In recent years, job boards have had to reinvent their business models in the face of the commoditization of their core job posting services. Despite making a number of acquisitions and investments in order to keep on top of technology trends, Monster has struggled to stay relevant against competition from job board aggregators such as Indeed, social media giants such as Linkedin and a plethora of nimble niche job boards.”

But it’s really not like Indeed is offering anything near genius. And LinkedIn is the company most humans love to hate. Or the one they just hate.

SIA continued:

“At its height, Monster had a market cap of nearly USD 8 billion and, as recently as 2007 was still valued at USD 5.5 billion. Sal Iannuzzi who was Chairman and CEO between 2007 and 2014 failed to halt the decline in shareprice and the market cap had fallen to less than USD 400 million upon his departure.”

Today, Monster looks like a mishmash of brands cobbled together by… someone without much care for that being the appearance. And Randstad is just dull, dull, dull.

Which all feels like a huge missed opportunity. How the mighty have fallen.