Monster.com is trying to prove it still has all the right credentials in a market infiltrated by specialized job boards, job aggregator sites, and LinkedIn .
Starting today, the giant job search website is baking its professional networking Facebook  app, BeKnown, into its core Monster.com site across 34 countries. The integration puts BeKnown in front of the more than 100 million people visiting those properties each month and gives Monster users the option to create a BeKnown profile that will live within Monster.com.
Users of the 10-month-old Facebook app are able to view tailored Monster postings and selectively connect with Facebook friends, as well as people outside their social network. Now, when BeKnown users visit Monster.com, they'll also see how they're connected to people at companies that post job listings.
Monster senior editor Charles Purdy tells Fast Company one of BeKnown's greatest competitive advantages is the clout carried by the Monster brand. "It makes BeKnown incredibly powerful because it's more than just a networking tool," says Purdy. "Having something like BeKnown on Facebook makes sense because it goes to Monster and Fortune 1000 companies with global reach."
But stats from recent years suggest Monster has steadily been losing traction in the online job search market. Job postings aggregator Indeed.com surpassed Monster.com  in unique visitors to become the top online job site in 2010; Monster has since slipped behind CareerBuilder.com . LinkedIn reportedly recently passed on an opportunity to buy out Monster . Monster's parent company, Monster Worldwide Inc.--which boasted a peak market value of $7.5 billion in 2006--is currently valued at $965 million. (For comparison, LinkedIn's current market cap is a cushy $10.2 billion). Not to mention BeKnown’s most direct competitor, BranchOut, has seen some stellar user numbers  since its Facebook launch almost a year before BeKnown's.
BeKnown’s appeal as a professional networking alternative to competitors such as LinkedIn and BranchOut lies in the company's investments in Monster's semantic search technology to deliver users more relevant postings. But BeKnown largely limits listings results to those posted by paying Monster.com customers, whereas BranchOut, BeKnown's most direct competitor (which Facebook recently singled out  as a top mobile app) has the advantage of drawing from multiple job aggregator sites.
BeKnown product lead Tom Chevalier says Monster has always planned to integrate the app with the core site, but held off until BeKnown could demonstrate staying power on Facebook. Though Monster doesn't release internal user numbers, Chevalier says BeKnown reached the one-million-user mark "faster than LinkedIn and Facebook did it." But recent numbers show  BeKnown was hovering around 170,000 users till this weekend's integration sparked a 20,000-user uptake, which still leaves it trailing well behind BranchOut's 11.5 million.
The fact that Monster is investing heavily in BeKnown, a free service that's not generating revenue, indicates it understands how integral a strong social presence is to the game of catch-up it's playing. Monster's clearly trying to make good on its mission to "successfully connect people to job opportunities." But others may have already found ways to do it more successfully.
[Image: Flickr user Cameron Daigle ; Inline image: Monster]