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The war for talent special report: Internet job market still a monster

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Monster.com could be the virtual equivalent to the unemployment line. Widely recognized as one of the pre-eminent search engine for online jobs, Monster has been especially popular the past several months, thanks to the ongoing dot-com shakeout.

The Web site has been following the war for talent closely, both for job seekers looking to get back into the game online as well as those individuals looking to go back to traditional companies, a reverse migration that’s been dubbed "dot-com to not-com."

For some insight into the job market as it relates to the Internet, BtoB spoke with Peter Blacklow, senior VP-marketing at Monster.

BtoB: What’s the climate out there right now for Web employment? Are many of the marketing executives who, this time last year, thought they were on the road to riches working for a Web site now walking the streets?

Blacklow: It’s still a great market out there. We’ve seen a huge success rate with ChiefMonster [a link within the Monster.com site specifically geared toward senior management executives]. Since launching [ChiefMonster] in September, more than 100,000 top executives logged onto the link. That’s a lot of new economy executives looking for work. But we’re not getting the impression that it’s taking them a long time to get new work, even though there’s a shortage of CEOs with high-technology experience.

BtoB: Is that the type of top marketing executive the dot-coms are now looking for?

Blacklow: Not necessarily. There’s certainly been a number of candidates without a technology background looking to get back into the Web. Brand building is a lot more relevant when marketing than technology experience.

BtoB: That dot-coms have to start behaving like legitimate businesses is the mantra right now. But is that so? Are the dot-com companies really looking for experienced marketers to get them back on their feet?

Blacklow: I think so. Everyone thought it was ludicrous when people were launching [dot-coms] that didn’t have a business model—-or even a revenue stream. Companies are figuring how to be profitable and how to build a business that just happens to take place over the Internet. To do that, the dot-coms are looking for quality senior management

people with not only brand-building skills but also the ability to generate profit.

BtoB: What about turning that question around? To what degree are marketers with a little gray on the roof still interested in working for a dot-com?

Blacklow: It depends. ... Marketers are looking for great brands. When people hear about dot-coms it raises a lot of questions about long-term viability.

BtoB: How are traditional b-to-b companies with heavy Web presences handling the shakeout, compared to the b-to-b dot-coms?

Blacklow: If you’re a good marketer, it doesn’t matter what the space. People should be looking at the Internet not so much for the Internet experience but the branding and marketing experience. Building a brand on the Web is no different than building a brand in a traditional offline environment. The business is viable on the skills the marketing person brings to the company. The thing that’s different is that [the Web] moves a hell of a lot faster than the traditional world. The ones who can adapt quickly will succeed. But the basic, underlying rules of marketing haven’t changed.

BtoB: Now that they can no longer offer these fat stock options, what are dot-coms doing to attract and retain employees?

Blacklow: Right now it’s similar to traditional companies. [Prior to the shakeout] people were looking for stock options the same way investors put money into dot-coms that didn’t have a business plan. The best way to retain employees is to have a financially healthy and thriving company. That’s where the morale is, as opposed to a company that’s struggling.

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