Does Monster's Acquisition Of Yahoo! HotJobs Matter If The Internet Is The Job Board?

(Editor’s note: Centralized Web job boards are in decline. Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite, explains why in this guest post. Previously, he was Senior VP at Yahoo and GM of HotJobs, and before that a Director on CareerBuilder’s Board as CEO of Knight Ridder Digital.

Monster’s acquisition of Yahoo HotJobs signals a significant landscape change for a job board industry facing significant economic pressure and I believe the deal also marks a “new normal” in how companies are hiring talent. Online recruiting is transitioning away from “the Big Three” job boards. The Internet is becoming the job board.

Of course, unloading and closing properties that are not part of Yahoo’s strategy going forward is smart. (Though selling a job advertising board smack in the middle of this downturn and extreme unemployment must have been as hard as selling an empty, foreclosed home in Las Vegas right now.)

But more importantly, this acquisition is an indicator of a rapid evolution as more hiring takes place online. Venture-backed startups are transforming this industry as new technologies begin to change how companies find and attract talent.  The elephant in the room is that the economic jolt of September 2008 has permanently altered the job market and dramatically accelerated labor trends underway for many years, such as the growth in job turnover throughout a person’s career.

Increases in unemployment, under-employment and turnover are boosting traffic to nearly all job boards and job search engines – and the number of online applications to resource-depleted recruiting departments. Companies are spending more money sifting through unqualified applications, so they are naturally spending less on job boards and taking advantage of free sites, like Indeed, to post and distribute their jobs.

To combat the influx of poor-fit applications, companies are turning to new technologies and online services to target talent and search across the open Web for people who may not be actively searching for a job on a board. This is possible because 42% of working adults in the US now maintain a profile somewhere online—most notably on LinkedIn and Facebook, but also on Twitter and services like Jigsaw, an SF-based, user-generated database of professionals. And the downturn is growing this number.

The more innovative recruiters at growing companies like Zappos and Dell are now are using social media to engage prospective candidates in a genuine and inexpensive way: building candidate communities in their career site and blogs, search engine optimizing job listings, distributing jobs through social networks to dramatically drive referrals, and tracking web analytics by job to determine their best sources of talent.

To me, the more interesting acquisition was Monster’s purchase 18 months ago of Trovix, a Bay Area startup that built a behavioral algorithm for matching jobs and resumes to help recruiters sift through applicants and jobseekers through jobs. But, the irony is that they will be “unveiling” this new technology, dubbed 6Sense, on this weekend’s (expensive) Super Bowl, the annual marketing battleground of the big, horizontal job boards.

As funny as those ads can be, they are not likely to solve the job boards’ bigger marketing challenge: how to convince companies to spend more money “posting and praying” that the best person applies for their job when the broader, open Internet is fast becoming the new, cost-effective “job board” of talent.  This week’s combination of Monster and Hotjobs isn’t going to solve that problem either.

Image via Flickr/Frank Gruber.