- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2002

BOSTON (AP) It's been a challenging few months for online job-search sites. They've been flooded with resumes, but not with jobs, and that's where much of their revenue comes from.
Meanwhile, the competitive landscape is different, too, after a merger between Monster.com and Hotjobs.com the companies that dominate the $1 billion online recruiting and classifieds industry fell through in December.
Visitors to the sites notice the effects of the recession, the accompanying surge in unemployment and a drop in demand for workers.
Dan O'Sullivan of Cambridge, Mass., found a big difference between the number of "hits" he got on his resume during a 2000 job search and another a year later, amid the recession.
"Last year, and this was with pretty good experience, I would check … and virtually no one had been there," he said.
"They do have hundreds of jobs posted on them, but applying to one is kind of like dropping a fishing line with no hook, no bait, into a lake and trying to catch something," said Judd Everhart, of Bethel, Conn. He was laid off from a corporate job at the World Wrestling Federation in November and has gotten only a few minor nibbles from his postings on both sites.
The latest earnings reports from the sites show the effects of the weaker job market.
On Tuesday, Monster parent company TMP Worldwide reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $27.3 million, or 24 cents per share, down 21 percent from $34.6 million, or 31 cents per share, a year earlier, although commissions and fees at Monster rose 41 percent.
HotJobs recently reported a fourth-quarter profit of $237,000, or 1 cent per share, excluding merger expenses. That was an improvement over a year-earlier loss of $6.9 million, or 19 cents per share, but revenues were down 20 percent.
Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li said the sites have performed relatively well, not only in comparison with other Internet companies, but with the recruiting industry in general.
"Just look at the newspapers," Miss Li said. An "overall 32 percent loss for 2001 in recruitment classifieds … it is by far the biggest drop they've ever seen in any cyclical downturn."
Analysts expect the sites to do better when the job market recovers. In the meantime, they're trying to figure out how the recent shake-up among the top companies will play out.
Late last year, Monster looked like it was en route to a monopoly when TMP announced plans to buy HotJobs.
But in December, Web portal Yahoo stepped in with a higher offer of $436 million, which TMP declined to match.
So the two sites known to many for their dueling Super Bowl ads the last four years are again competing.
"HotJobs is back with a major media partner, and I think that's going to tip the scale significantly over the next year," company Chief Executive Dimitri Boylan said in a recent interview.
Monster founder and CEO Jeff Taylor doesn't sound too worried.
"Yahoo seems to relaunch their careers area about every year, and that tends to bring up a few questions, and then Monster goes out and continues to dominate the marketplace," he said.
Some analysts share Mr. Taylor's skepticism, and wonder whether Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo which claims 219 million consumers will squander the HotJobs brand.
"I'm very dubious about whether Yahoo is ever going to recognize $400 million of value from the acquisition," said Aram Sinnreich, a senior analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix in New York. "Their company has a history of spending exorbitantly to announce their entry into a space that's hot, only to drop the ball when they get into other initiatives."
So far, Maynard, Mass.-based Monster is the bigger of the two sites, with more visitors 8.9 million to 7.7 million according to the latest Jupiter Media Metrix numbers.
Monster claims 15 million job seekers' resumes on file, up from 7 million a year ago, and about three times as many as HotJobs.
The companies say the Internet has revolutionized job hunting, letting recruiters search for exactly what they want and job seekers to post their resumes worldwide for free. They're also popular with "passive" job seekers, who have a job but post their resumes anonymously to see if something better might be out there.
Experts generally credit Monster with being stronger on serving the companies who pay the bills. But HotJobs also has a well-known brand and experts say it has a reputation for being a little friendlier to job seekers.

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