Monster Gains China Foothold

By John Zappe

Feb. 25, 2005

If you’re not doing business in China, then Monster Worldwide’s acquisition last month of has about as much significance as the launch of yet another job board in the United States. Even those who do source employees in the world’s largest nation don’t expect to see many outward signs of Monster’s presence. Local management still holds a controlling interest.

    Nevertheless, the move may be a wake-up call for those who thought that perhaps Monster wasn’t going to make acquisitions for a while, says Joseph G. Shaker, CEO of Shaker Recruitment Advertising & Communications. “Most of the jobs on Monster are not jobs you are going to go overseas to fill. So, I would say there really is no immediate benefit in this for most of us (recruiters).”

    For recruiters who are now looking overseas for job candidates, Monster’s China play gives added credibility and strength to, a point the company’s president made when the acquisition was announced.

    “We are extremely pleased to partner with Monster, the global leader in online recruitment, and begin leveraging its proven methodologies to fully capitalize on the tremendous recruitment market opportunity in China,” says Kathy Xu, who heads Holdings Ltd.

    Monster was clearly eager to gain a foothold in a nation with 1.3 billion people given that the purchase was the first time the company bought anything less than a controlling interest. Monster paid $50 million for its 40 percent share, putting the valuation of at $125 million. It’s a steep premium for a company that had about $7 million in revenues for 2004. (Monster has the right to increase its ownership share to 51 percent after three years or in the event the company goes public, as did 51job, a Shanghai-based company that offers such services as online recruitment, training and other human resources necessities.

    If Monster wants to be a global player, “they obviously have to have a presence in China,” says Mark Mahaney, an analyst who follows Monster for American Technology Research. “They had to buy somebody. They probably couldn’t have built it organically.” For that reason, Mahaney says he’ll give Monster “the benefit of the doubt” about the deal’s value.

    As the world moves ever more rapidly toward a global economy, Monster’s multinational presence and what it learns in these early years of its expansion will make it a valuable, potentially exclusive one-stop shop for recruiting. This may not matter to the small or medium-sized businesses Monster is courting now, but to the Fortune 500 companies that have been the company’s bread and butter, the multinational recruiting expertise may be enough for them to stay with Monster. Monster further secured its international position when it acquired French online recruiter for $26 million from a subsidiary of Dutch publishing group Reed Elsevier.

    It wasn’t that long ago that technology companies were dispatching recruiters to universities in India to hire graduates. Today, Monster owns the largest job board in that country.

    There are major differences between India and China, however, not the least of which is that most job postings and all résumés in India are in English. On, most of the jobs and résumés are in Chinese characters. That would make it impossible to integrate the postings into a global database, even if Monster were so inclined.

    So for now, recruiters sourcing job candidates in China, whether on or 51job, should take the advice of human resources consultant Denny S. Xu. On the Electronic Recruiting Exchange, he suggested using buttons and banners with a company logo–a device that transcends language–to attract attention. And keep in mind, “Most Chinese candidates don’t know how to write a good résumé in English,” he wrote.

Workforce Management, March 2005, pp. 22-23Subscribe Now!

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