A monster idea by Jeff Taylor
Ask people in the 20-something set in the United States if they know who Jeff Taylor is and they’ll say, “Isn’t he the head of Monster?” Chances are that many of them have already turned to the online job-search site Monster to look for a better job.
In the brave new worldof online recruitment advertising, Monster is the name brand, the Google of the job-search world. And Jeff Taylor is the man who started it all.
“I literally had a dream that I built a bulletin board system, a BBS called the ‘Monster Board’ where people could look for jobs, and that was how it got started,” Taylor says.
In 1993, Taylor was the head of his own recruitment-advertising agency, Adion, where the focus was on coming up with big ideas for clients. “One of my customers said, ‘We don’t want any more big ideas. We want a monster idea.’” In those late pre-Internet days, Taylor was looking for ways to use technology to make his job more efficient. In the recruitment-ad business, agencies like his received a 15 percent commission on the ads they placed. The publishers, typically news-papers, got the other 85 percent. Says Taylor, “I was interested in creating an environment where I was the publisher.”
The dream, so the story goes, awakened him at
4:30 a.m. “I got out of bed, went to a coffee shop, and
at five in the morning designed a lot of the concepts
and interfaces we’re still using today.”
The BBS idea soon was transformed,and Monster.com became one of the first dot-com companies. Some would argue that Taylor was just plain lucky. His response: “I believe that the harder you work, the luckier you get, unless you’re born in a third-world country where you are deprived of a lot of opportunities.”
Taylor’s hard work has involved “working in a consultative role with human resource professionals at 600 companies and coming up with the idea of being the publisher, but also understanding the recruiting industry,” he says. “There was a lot of alignment. It was an economic environment where the supply was low and the demand was high, so building from 1994 [when the company was launched] to 2000 was just a steady rise of the economy. We basically grew into it.”
Now, more than 10 yearsdown the road, Monster describes itself as the leading global online career property, the 11th most visited site on the Web. The flagship brand of Monster Worldwide Inc, Monster has a presence in 24 countries, a database of 45 million résumés and more than 200,000 employers posting available jobs worldwide. In January 2005 alone, the Monster Network served more than 28 million unique job seekers. By any account, Monster is a success story.
“The Internet is probably the most important advancement in job searching and the process of looking for talent in maybe a hundred years,” he says.
“It isn’t the end-all, but it is an important resource, and within that resource there are three incredible tools, none of which existed in the past – a scalable job search where you can do a search based on location, discipline and industry that will immediately give you all the jobs you requested; the ability to apply for a large number of jobs with one résumé, and the ability for companies to find you. By posting your résumé, companies can find your skills and can call you and say, ‘How would you like to come in for an interview?’ This is a fantastic way to look for a job, because you go to the interview and the person says, ‘Why are you here?’ and you say ‘Because you called me.’ It completely turns the tide.”
But neither Taylor nor Monster is resting on past success. 2005 marks a change in focus. After six years of advertising in the big-money, big-audience venue of the US Super Bowl, the company will now go for a more local approach, Taylor says. “There are more efficient ways to get your reach and frequency out than to buy something that’s a blanket coverage,” he says. “We’re now starting as a major agenda item to look at the local brand.”
Already a leader in the North American market, Monster is well on its way to becoming the leader in European markets as well, through both acquisitions and organic growth. It’s also looking to increase its presence in Asia.
The brand and business model translate to other countries “pretty well,” Taylor says. “Generally speaking, the way we position ourselves and what we believe in
– ‘Today’s the day, you should look out for your own career, the company’s not really going to do that for you’
– is a pretty consistent pattern across the world. A constant fact of life is the grass is always greener on the other side.”
Meanwhile, Taylor says, the types of jobs Monster is posting are changing. “We’re starting to broaden the definition of what Monster is from a white-collar, telecom/tech-type site to something much broader.” That includes more blue-collar jobs, he says. “I think the Internet’s last big growth area is in blue-collar households where the computer is purchased for the kid for school and then the mother or father gets into it. And one of the first things they tend to do with it is look for a job.”
Although his duties as “chief monster”keep Taylor busy, he finds time for other pursuits. He has three children, 16, 13 and 10. He DJs at nightclubs in the Boston area a couple of times a month, and he collects and restores Shelby Mustang cars. Taylor has a shop with five full-time mechanics who work only on the Shelbys. At any given time he has six or eight cars in process of restoration.
But the place where Taylor is really in his element is Monster headquarters in Maynard, a small town west of Boston. “The environment here is incredibly exciting,” he says, “both because we can keep reinventing the business and because we’re rewriting history. It has been fun to work in an emerging industry with an emerging product that has a credible business model and is profitable. We’re in a very good position to change the industry … to try to capture a voice as an industry expert. We’ve established the brand, but we still need to establish in the second-, third- and fourth-tier markets that we can be the solution for hiring. It just takes more work and more time.” And more of Taylor’s brand of luck.