CareerBuilder CEO Discusses Monster, Social Media, Job Board Future

careerbuilderMatt Ferguson doesn’t see pay for performance replacing the pay to post model for job boards anytime soon, if ever. Nor have the job aggregators had much of an impact on the business.

Rather, says CareerBuilder’s CEO, it’s social media in all its forms that poses the biggest threat to the job board industry. The “biggest threat and the biggest opportunity,” he said in a conference call Wednesday with a group of analysts and others.

Arranged by Stifel Financial Corp., Ferguson shared his take on the economy, the job board business, and competitor Monster during a free-ranging 45 minutes Q &A.

Not surprisingly, Ferguson took a few swipes at the Monster, shrugging off the company’s $100 million investment in a site redesign and, especially, in a new, enhanced resume search.

Matt Ferguson

Matt Ferguson

Despite the chatter about Monster’s Power Resume Search on blogs and elsewhere, Ferguson said he has yet to hear it mentioned by any of CareerBuilder’s customers. What’s more, he suggested the new search tool may be limited in its usefulness, since corporate recruiters do much of their work via an ATS.

“They have not integrated” the new Monster tools with the systems, Ferguson said, adding that for CareerBuilder, “It’s business as usual… We have had a recommend engine for five years.”

He declined to discuss the size of CareerBuilder’s international business, saying he wouldn’t talk about a report the company’s dollar volume was in the $50 million range. Acknowledging that Monster had the lead in Europe — but suggesting that might not be true in most of the rest of the world — Ferguson said CareerBuilder was “closing the gap in traffic.”

However, in the pay-for-performance area, Ferguson was adamant that it wasn’t gaining traction within the job board industry, despite Monster’s suggestion that variable pricing for resumes (at least) could be in the company’s future.

“I don’t see it going to a price per hire,” he said. “It’s still an advertising medium.”

Nor, he said, does he feel the pay-to-post model is threatened by the job search engines.

Services like Indeed, which just celebrated its fifth birthday, and SimplyHired,  collect job listings from across the web and aggregate them so job seekers don’t have to conduct multiple searches. By using freely available applications, content publishers and other job boards can make some or all of the aggregated jobs available on their own site.

The sites have aggressively promoted a pay-for-click pricing model that allows an employer to get higher visibility for their position, while paying only when a job seeker clicks on their post.

While the traffic Indeed and SimplyHired receive have pushed them into the top tier of job sites, Ferguson said, “I don’t know that the aggregators have had much impact.” Their biggest customers, he said, “have been the job boards themselves.”

Social media such as LinkedIn does present a challenge to the traditional job board industry, Ferguson said, noting that CareerBuilder has a partnership deal with Facebook. The site itself doesn’t present a direct threat to job boards, at least not the way LinkedIn does, he added.  But, “social media in aggregate” does.

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