I’ve had an account with monster.com since 1996. Basically forever. From 1996-1999, they were a great source for job hunting. Real companies posted actual jobs. If you applied, and were reasonably qualified, a human being often responded with a genuine personalized email. (When the response was unfavorable, you’d have what’s known as a “flying hatchet” mail. You know as soon as you open it: the hatchet comes flying out and hits you just above the nose. But at least it was a response!)
Their 1999 SuperBowl commercial, When I Grow Up, was a classic piece of work as little kids espoused their desire to claw their way up to middle management. This, unfortunately, was the beginning of Monster’s decline in usefulness. As the high tech economy started tanking in 2000 and companies realized that they could use their own web sites as recruiting tools — some even installed expensive back-ends that allow them to ignore qualified candidates much more efficiently than they did before — Monster.com was forced to diversify.
Well, that’s a euphemism for their metamorphasis into a Classmates.com-like ad-spamming, cross-sell-o-matic company. For example, if you’re a job seeker, signing in will take you to an interstitial page like the first image above. It’s very obnoxious because you may accidentally click on the big yellow button if you’re not paying attention. I’ve seen ones for the online universities (University of Phoenix, Capella), financial services (401k’s), and now debt consolidation loans. It’s inevitable they’ll be selling ads for phenteramine and Texas Holdem Poker.
If you hit the blue button, you’ll go to the my.monster “home page.” Every page from here on out has five to twelve ads. Yes, I said twelve. My laptop’s so caked up on anti-spyware, pop-up blocking, and ad filtering, it gets jittery whenever the ad vendors try something sneaky. I’ve had to hack my hosts file to remap the more well-known ad servers. (Now, I use Firefox.)
A couple of times, I had my anonymized resume searchable to see what was out there. Monster has a feature whereby if someone wants to contact me, they send mail to a computer-generated email address @monster.com, which then gets forwarded to my personal account.
Problem #1: Posting a resume puts it at the top of the second queue, unless you’re willing to shill out some bucks for “premium service,” which adds a <b> tag and some icons around your name. In either case, this triggers a gratuitous spam from your local American Express office inviting you to a workshop so you can learn be a sales-commissioned Financial Advisor. (Like I’d last long there dispensing advice like “Dude, just buy a no-load index fund.”) There were two or three other companies doing the similar things in the insurance business.
Oh, for grins, I posted a resume for a long-time Zamboni driver (crime fighter at night). In the objective was a sentence about being under investigation for securities fraud. Same spam.
Problem #2: Sometime while my resume was searchable, a harvester indexed the address and three or four times a month I receive an “employment opportunity” like this:
Would you stuff envelopes for $2,000’s weekly? Would you like $10 for each envelope you stuff with our brochures? If the answer is yes, our company has the right opportunity for you. You can join the leading team of mail processors today. […] Sue, Director of Humam Resources
(Yes, they spelled it Humam.)
I’ve gone back and forth with monster.com’s technical support on this. They acknowledge it’s a spam scam, but are unable to do anything about it. My resume was unsearchable. All I initially wanted was a way to shut off the “anonymous” email address thingie. They can’t do it.
Problem #3: My next recourse was to just delete my account. I copied the various incarnations of my resumes and hunted for a way to delete the account. Guess what? There is none. Actually, what you have to do is log a support request. In a few business days, they’ll respond requesting information for “verification purposes.” But, the stuff they ask is already on the account. Furthermore, the support request is initiated while you’re logged into monster. Why can’t they just put a frickin delete button? Answer: they’re hoping you’ll get distracted and stick around. There are plenty of more ad banners to serve.
The support person wrote back, again, to verify I wanted my account deleted. (Perhaps I mistyped “cross-marketed”?) I got very snippy in my response, but eventually, the account was deleted. Later, it occurred to me I could have just entered in a bogus email address, put the Zamboni driver information back in, use Monster.com’s corporate headquarters for my address, and I’d be done.
To illustrate the relative magnitude of advertisements, here is a comparison of screen snaps of four commercial sites. The ads blocks are the shaded blocks.