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A look into the ‘new’ monster
published by , on 23/01/2009

When I started digging into the “new and improved” Monster.com, I couldn’t help but think back to Ask.com launching Ask3D. The company hailed it as “A Truly New Way to Search,” giving users three columns of results, including filtering, pics, video on top of regular search results. Some really smart people said it would challenge Google, particularly on the heels of a multi-million dollar advertising campaign. Remember those? That was June 2007.

ch_ask3d.jpg

Didn’t happen. Fast forward to today and Ask has more-or-less gone back to its former self and essentially given up on its efforts to dethrone Google. Google’s momentum and mojo was too much to tackle.

Monster is working against similar forces. And although you could argue they are the Google of our industry, that’s simply not the case. Years of segmentation, competition, verticalization, commoditization and neglecting the job seeker have taken its toll on a once mighty company. I doubt any amount of coolness or job-seeker refocus will alter the winds of change that have been blowing for a long time now.

That said, the new Monster is a noble effort.

ch_2new-monster.jpg

“Monster has made a significant investment in product and technology in an effort to design and develop new tools and applications that help job seekers manage their career,” said Sal Iannuzzi, chairman, president and CEO of Monster Worldwide (MWW). “The result is an entirely new site experience which allows job seekers a more engaging and dynamic way to find the career that best matches their talent, background, aspirations and professional goals. We set out 18 months ago to deliver the best seeker experience possible. Given what is going on today with the global economic crisis and its affect on employment, we are even more gratified to be able to provide these valuable tools to seekers.”

Visitors to the new site are met with a variety of videos touting everything from “Monster is not just about jobs anymore” to “Monster’s new job search is easier than ever! To apply for the job is 65% faster than before!” Using real faces at the company is a smart move and helps put a little humanity on an organization many buyers feel is too big to understand their individual challenges.

Additionally, registered users can add widgets to their homepage, similar to iGoogle. This is a nice time saver option for job seekers and helps put more control in the users’ hands. Nice touch if you look at Monster as your be-all destination for job search, which I doubt many do. An interesting move would be to allow users to add third party widgets outside of Monster’s jurisdiction.

The new search results page has sacrificed banner ad overload for featured ads in a Google AdSense-style format. A search for sales jobs in Cleveland revealed opportunities with local companies around town. However, changing my location kept the advertising to the Cleveland-area, so I’m guessing they’re checking IP information to serve ads instead of on-page content.

In looking at the list of results, job seekers can scroll over an ad title to get a snapshot of the position in about 150 words. Scrolling over other icons reveals mapping information, salary information powered by Salary.com and an action button where users can save certain results. There’s also a movie icon, which I assume will provide employment branding videos at some point, but I failed to locate any examples. The results are laid out in a way that users don’t have to load page-after-page to see job data. A nice feature, but it will undoubtedly impact banner ad revenue negatively by decreasing pageviews dramatically.

ch_3monster-search-results.jpg

A past interview on the launch revealed a more algorithmic approach to results versus a date order list, which seems to be the case with more granular queries. One search revealed a posting from 12/5 as the top result with more recent postings coming after. Seekers can also filter their search in a wide variety of ways.

Going to a job posting reveals a similar interface to what we’ve seen from Monster in the past. In a framed environment, you’ll most likely see the job posting as it looks on an employers’ main site and post resumes through the company’s applicant tracking system. No registration via Monster or e-mail required (or implied) to apply (I’m looking at you, CareerBuilder). Jobs shown as posted directly on Monster give users a ShareThis-style icon, but it only allows for e-mailing the job to someone. A bit misleading considering many who click on that icon expect the ability to post to a Facebook account or Twitter. Looks very 2.0 wannabe.

Career Tools
Outside of basic job search functionality, the biggest seeker-side changes come in the shape of the company’s new career tools. Unfortunately, it’s also the biggest disaster. Through sections that include “Career Snapshots,” “Career Mapping,” and “Career Benchmarking,” the company has created an absolute quagmire of confusion. I know I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I found using these tools entirely too time consuming and certainly not worth the effort unless I was really, really motivated to find employment.

“Today’s ‘new’ Monster not only provides the resources to help people find a job now, it also helps people begin to identify and plot out career aspirations over time,” said Iannuzzi. “We’re delivering on our promise to make Monster a personal, relevant and exciting place to search for the perfect job. Simply put, there has never been a better time to visit Monster.com.”

Career Snapshots apparently tells you if you’re on the right career path or not. Through a series of questions, it’s goal is to help put people on the right path to a new job or position. There’s also a forum-style component, where others in your space can comment and give advice. This area is empty today and I expect it to be pretty empty (spam excluded) in the future. It’s also not much help if the field isn’t already in the database. There’s not much of a career path for an SEO, I guess.

ch_4monster-snapshot.jpg

Career Benchmarking is supposed to help you understand how you compare with others in your particular field. Most notably, do you make as much as your equal at another company or would you make that much more in a different city. Good idea in concept, but like the other tools it’s not the most user-friendly thing on the planet. Payscale is a much better option.

Career Mapping serves as, well, a map to take you from where you are now and where you might want to go in the future. Again, a good idea in concept, but the tools are tough to understand. I’m sure the engineers who built it understand it, but not me. And I really have to wonder if you’re an engineer or accountant or marketing professional, do you really not understand the opportunities in front of you? If not, you probably shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing in the first place.

Conclusion
Hit-and-miss. I like what they’ve done with the job search functionality. But I think they’ve wasted a lot of time on the Career Tools portion of the program. I like that they’ve taken out a lot of the nonsensical banner ads (you can still find them if you dig hard enough) and made them more targeted. And their ad network could be an interesting play in the months to come.

No doubt the moves they’ve made will receive acclaim by many. It may even turn people who have given up on Monster in the past to give them a second look. Will it turn the tide currently in favor of destinations like LinkedIn, Craiglist and Google? Only time will tell (but don’t hold your breath).

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