Monster.com Touts New Image of Mobile Apps and Social Networking for Job Seekers at SXSW

3/14/11Follow @gthuang

There’s a new face at South by Southwest (SXSW) this week. It’s Monster.com, the Maynard, MA-based employment and job search site that’s making its first-ever appearance at the weeklong mega-gala in Austin, TX.

Monster.com is powering the “SXSW Hiring Hub,” an online portal for job listings posted by companies and other organizations attending South by Southwest; it is also hosting a recruiting meet-up for employers and job seekers at the conference this afternoon. This is a pretty big deal, as professional networking is the prime focus of many attendees, in between all the entertainment and parties.

But it’s also part of a broader makeover for Monster.com (NYSE: MWW), whose image has gone from nimble, cutting-edge job site to slow-moving dinosaur in just 12 years. Not that the company hasn’t been successful along the way, becoming one of the world’s biggest job search sites with a presence in more than 50 countries. But most people think of Monster in its original dot-com incarnation, as an online job board. The company went through a round of layoffs about a year ago, but still employs more than 5,000 workers worldwide.

To remake itself, the firm says it has spent about $500 million on innovation and R&D in the past three and a half years—with a special focus in the past year. “It’s unusual coming from Monster,” says chief global marketing officer Ted Gilvar. “We’re very established. As technology changes quickly, it’s important to evolve how the world thinks of us.”

Some of Monster’s relatively recent tech features include mobile apps for the Apple iPhone and iPad; social-networking partnerships with DailyFeats and Gowalla (the latter for location-based job search at SXSW); and “semantic search” technology that helps employers better match the qualifications of job candidates to open positions. The semantic tech, for example, understands the difference between someone who has experience with Oracle or Microsoft products and someone who has worked at those companies.

Monster.com was formed in a 1999 merger between The Monster Board and Online Career Center. It was led by founder Jeff Taylor until 2005, when he left to start Eons.com. Many people remember Monster’s first Super Bowl commercial in 1999, which featured little kids saying droll things like “When I grow up, I want to claw my way up to middle management.”

We’ll see whether Monster’s latest slew of tech innovations pushes it ahead of its many competitors, which include Hound, Indeed, Simply Hired, LinkedIn, Craigslist, and CareerBuilder (whose recent chimp commercials are pretty memorable too).

Gilvar, for his part, doesn’t see any “giant barriers” to his company’s growth in a new era of social and mobile networking and recruiting. But he says one challenge is “taking the technology and rolling it out across 50-plus countries.” A broader challenge, which the firm is clearly trying to address at SXSW, is the perceptual one. “When you’re really known for one thing,” he says, “it’s trying to change people’s perceptions.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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