Job sites flush with resumes amid dot-com downturn

Career Web sites such as Monster.com, HotJobs.com and CareerBuilder see increased traffic from recently laid off high-tech workers.

Stefanie Olsen Staff writer, CNET News
Stefanie Olsen covers technology and science.
Stefanie Olsen
4 min read
While the Internet industry continues to downsize, job-search Web sites are reaping some rewards.

Career Web sites such as Monster.com, HotJobs.com and CareerBuilder have seen increased traffic from last year to this, pulling in resumes from recently laid off high-tech workers as well as from those hedging their bets.

This week, Monster.com, the Net's second-most-popular career Web site, said that the volume of resumes on its site hit a record of about 38,000 a day this month. Its database peaked at 12 million job seekers. The Maynard, Mass.-based company also said that its service for senior executives, launched in September, had reached 100,000 members.

Traffic for nearly all the job Web sites is up markedly from last year. JobsOnline.com, the highest-ranked career Web site for traffic, jumped from 352,000 visitors in December 1999 to 6.6 million visitors in the same period a year later, according to Jupiter Media Metrix, a New York-based Web measurement company. Similarly, HotJobs visitors mushroomed from 513,000 in December 1999 to 2.7 million in December 2000.

Although JobsOnline holds the top slot on many of the Web measurement lists, the company falters when it comes to holding visitors at the site. According to Jupiter Media Metrix, the average time a visitor spent at JobsOnline during the month of December was about 2.6 minutes. By contrast, the average time spent at Monster.com was 22.9 minutes.

The increased traffic doesn't translate directly into revenues, but attracting job seekers is key to drawing in paying customers, the companies say.

"The more people that post their resumes, we become more appealing to employers," said Kellie Buckley, spokeswoman for Monster.com.

Monster.com makes money primarily through the classified model, charging listing fees. Employers pay to post jobs and search the resume database. HotJobs and Monster.com compete for job seekers, who can visit and post resumes for free.

HotJobs makes 70 percent of its revenues from recruiters and corporate hiring managers. The company charges human resource customers about $700 a month to use its tracking system to manage the hiring process online. The site, which is free of headhunters, has about 12,000 corporate recruiters using the service, said Chief Executive Richard Johnson. It also makes money through ad sales, job fairs and some single ad postings.

Changing a fragmented industry
Career sites, which offer a wide range of job categories, from high-tech start-ups to the public sector, have been changing what has traditionally been a fragmented industry, one that encompasses about 40,000 independent placement agencies and where the largest player commands less than 2 percent of the market.

Industry executives say the traffic surges are the result of widespread layoffs at Internet companies, as well as the high turnover rates associated with the fast-paced work style of the New Economy.

According to international outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, which has been tracking high-tech layoffs for the last year, roughly 41,515 jobs were cut from about 496 companies up until December 2000.

Staff cutbacks have touched the smallest tech companies to the largest media conglomerates. For example, NBC Internet said Thursday that it is cutting about 150 positions, or 30 percent of its staff, in a move to reduce costs. Concerns about a slowing U.S. economy have also dug into media companies such as CNN, which recently announced staff cutbacks.

Traffic increase of top nine job sites, measured in unique visitors

Web site Dec 2000 Dec 1999 % chg
  JobsOnline.com     6,608,000     352,000     1,777  
  Monster.com     3,581,000     1,572,000     128  
  HotJobs.com     2,700,000     513,000     426  
  CareerBuilder     1,880,000     583,000     222  
  Headhunter.net     1,024,000     1,571,000     -35  
  Salary.com     586,000     N/A     N/A  
  FlipDog.com     575,000     N/A     N/A  
  Dice.com     447,000     231,000     94  
  Jobs.com     362,000     307,000     18  
Source: Jupiter Media Metrix
While the tally grows, so does the list of resumes at many job sites. HotJobs' Johnson called the market "jobnormous" despite cautions of an economic slowdown and continual shake-ups in the tech industry.

"We're in a great position," said Johnson. "The first thing that happens in an economic downturn is that corporations will let their headhunters go and focus more on Internet recruiting, because it's cheaper. Our position in the marketplace will get stronger."

The site's traffic has expanded more than 500 percent over the last 3 years, said Johnson, who expects the company's market grip to strengthen despite extreme competition in the industry. The New York-based company expects to reach profitability by the end of 2001. Last year, the company had revenues of $95 million; it expects to bring in $160 million this year.

"We've never changed our business model because climates have changed. We're playing to win the whole game; we're not following the sky-is-falling mentality," Johnson said.

CareerBuilder has also see special report: Fired!been stockpiling resumes. From October to December, the number of job-seeker stats on the site rose 250 percent from 300,000 to 1 million. Some of the increase can be attributed to the company's absorption of CareerPath, as well as deals with Knight Ridder and Tribune Company.

"January is always a big month because it becomes part of a New Year's resolution. With the softening of the economy, many people are looking at where they are with a closer eye," Buckley said.

Barry Lawrence, a CareerBuilder spokesman, said, "People getting downsized are searching for jobs. But we've seen a mood change, too. People who have good jobs are staying in the job market."