Online Career Recovery Seen in 2004
Nonetheless, the big three players in online career services--Monster, CareerBuilder, and Yahoo!'s Hot Jobs--have stayed afloat. Despite the stalled economy, 2003 was not such a bad year for them.
Generally, traffic flow has increased for employment sites, according to data collected by Hitwise for the MediaDailyNews. Compared with all Web sites, traffic to online career services received a 30 percent increase in market share from January 2003 to January 2004. Even more remarkable is the category's 56 percent hike from January 1, 2003 to February 11, 2004.
However, of the three major players, only Hot Jobs received a market share increase in 2003, according to Hitwise. HotJobs' market share climbed to 12.8 percent from 11.2 percent for the year. Monster's market share fell from 22.4 percent to 18.93 percent, while CareerBuilder tumbled from a second- place 12.2 percent share to just four percent.
But does the data really say anything about the health of the online jobs sector? Data collection is an inexact science--to find the truth, you need to examine the intersection of sets of data and look for uniformity, says John Sumser, Editor of the Electronic Recruiting News. "That's the thing about any measurement system. In the absence of accuracy, you have to settle for consistency. It's true in performance measurement in organizations and it's true for job board rankings," he says.
Amazon's free traffic measurement service, Alexa, reports the site rankings of all Web sites based on the visitation habits of Alexa's users. The data sample is small, however--only a few million. Of all Web site traffic, Alexa ranks Monster 83rd, CareerBuilder 252nd, and Yahoo! Hot Jobs 278th, according to December 2003 data.
Aside from the major discrepancy regarding CareerBuilder's slide, according to Hitwise, and its second-place position, according to Alexa, the data shows that Monster is still number one in online career services.
Will Monster's Super Bowl Sunday advertising and other high-profile marketing expenditures help it throughout the year? This remains to be seen. However, post-Bowl Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 2-3), Monster reported a combined two-day total of more than 120,000 resumes submitted--a 20 percent jump over the average number of resumes submitted on Mondays and Tuesdays in the last six months.
Throughout 2003, advertisers have shown their faith in Monster's ability to generate Web traffic. Last week, Monster's fourth-quarter 2003 earnings report revealed that its advertising sales increased--albeit slightly--over the same period a year ago, from $164.4 million to $170.8 million. Total revenue for the year in the company's Monster division rose from $414.4 million to $424.3 million. Monster said it racked up 40 million visits to its site in December.
Online job sites are looking for revenue growth in a variety of areas. Monster has said it wants to focus jobs in vertical industries such as health care, hourly workers, and government workers. It's also introduced a for-pay networking service for job seekers. HotJobs offers a background search service in alliance with ChoicePoint in which employers can screen false claims and exaggerations on the resumes of prospective job candidates. CareerBuilder has said it will launch a background check product next month.
--Tobi Elkin contributed to this report.