The Future of CareerBuilder

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Aug 12, 2016
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

All these acquisitions make my head spin. Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, which acquired Connectifier and Rapportive. Randstad acquired Monster, which acquired TalentBin. Recruit acquired Indeed and SimplyHired, which they turned it into an Indeed-sponsored job board. What’s going to happen with CareerBuilder? Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, indicates that it’s alive and well in a chat with Todd from ERE.

CareerBuilder made its own set of acquisitions to diversify its product, but let me tell you. It’s not enough. CareerBuilder’s product showcase brand themselves as a constantly learning, fast-moving, agile software company with all its engineers, etc., while most people know it as the job board right behind Monster. You tell me what comes to mind first when you think of CareerBuilder.


The problem with big companies is that they are not as agile and flexible and are not positioned for innovation as much as they claim to be. Look at Google, arguably the most innovative company in the world today. Look at GoogleX or Google Ventures, self-driving cars, project tango, VR, AR, Google Brain, AlphaGo … even Pokemon Go stemmed from Google Maps. That’s an innovative company that is going to be around for a while. I mean Monster tried to get into the SaaS data game with the TalentBin acquisition and it got sold for $429 million, some three bucks per share and a long time coming too.

Another Randstad to Acquire CareerBuilder?

To stay in business in the face of changing technology, CareerBuilder has to make some drastic changes to its product, mission, and company. It has to restructure, get truly agile, and learn to stay strategically competitive for the long term, quite something like Twitter did here. Otherwise, CareerBuilder has to get acquired or die sooner or later, despite whatever it is telling you now. But who is going to buy them?

Will Microsoft acquire CareerBuilder? Probably not, because that acquisition wouldn’t offer Microsoft anything new worth the price that it already gained by acquiring LinkedIn. In fact Microsoft owns a piece of CareerBuilder and has access to its database already since 1999.

Would Google acquire CareerBuilder? The two companies’ current product and mission are a world apart. The same goes with Facebook, and any other tech giant I can think of. Salesforce could take the bite, but I don’t see why it would because it already has its fresh data pipeline established. Most big tech companies focus on attracting the millennial workers who are twice as likely to apply through their career site anyway than a job board.

NSHSS Scholar 2016 Millennial Career Survey


Will another Randstad acquire CareerBuilder? Yes, there will be more M&A between recruiting agencies and job boards, because job boards are still the No. 6 source of talent for recruiting agencies. It’s why Randstad acquired Monster, to push its own client’s job to sponsored and preferred ranking, getting more applicants. That’s why Recruit acquired Indeed and created Indeed Prime, essentially turning Indeed into a recruiting agency.

Microsoft-LinkedIn was all about a live stream of data to build up Cortana AI; that’s search engine wars. Randstad or Monster doesn’t have any AI capabilities, so they will do with Monster what Recruit did with Indeed.

Who is left is CareerBuilder, the third kid on the block. The same thing can happen if any of these big recruiting agency players decide to compete with Recruit and Randstad and follow suit. They are out there, trying to acquire job boards, referral platforms, and basically own the channel that will provide them with a guaranteed talent pipeline all the while replicating a proven model of Indeed Prime.

All of these acquisitions are happening now because of Microsoft-LinkedIn acquisition.

All the major recruiting companies are using LinkedIn to recruit for themselves and their clients. Microsoft owns that hiring database now, and like I wrote in How Microsoft-LinkedIn Could Reboot Recruiting, every major player is looking for alternatives to move away from LinkedIn recruiting. Since the $28B acquisition, LinkedIn shut down super connectors, blocked every major competitor off of its platform, and made everyone pay for searching and additional search filters. If this doesn’t demonstrate that Microsoft doesn’t really care for anything in the general direction of recruiting or recruiters then I don’t know what does.

Microsoft could make LinkedIn better, but the way things are going it can also be LinkedIn recruiting death. What will happen when that happens? Can you imagine your recruiting agency without LinkedIn? The risk is big enough to force these companies that do a ton of recruiting and process millions of candidates every year to make a move on securing alternative sources of talent channels and not relying on LinkedIn Recruiter. It’s plain and simple strategy, risk mitigation.


CareerBuilder, Looking Ahead

CareerBuilder is a great company with good technology … one that could complement the operations of a huge staffing agency significantly and give it an immediate boost and competitive edge over its competitors.

What is the alternative? CareerBuilder becomes the Switzerland in the war of staffing agencies that own job boards? The neutral zone that partners with everyone? This path would leave CareerBuilder squashed to the ground, since most job boards share the same Internet users, although I hear that CareerBuilder has a good foothold in India, U.S. and a couple of other countries like a lot of other job boards. You get the gist.

CareerBuilder’s Press Release doesn’t mention anything really. I am pretty sure it gets pings from different staffing agencies if it isn’t already talking to some of them. It’s just going to be a matter of price and time.

Parting Thoughts

I am excited to see what is actually going to happen in terms of who is going to make a move and for how much CareerBuilder is going to go for. Perhaps, I am completely wrong and CareerBuilder will do a substantial pivot and tough it out as their revenue falls. We might have the next generation of recruiting software as CareerBuilder’s key development reports on Bloomberg indicate.

If you enjoyed or found this article useful please like and share. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

(Updated Aug 13 to say job boards are number 6 and not the number one source)

This article is part of a series called Opinion.