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It’s entirely possible you heard the news. Possible. Certainly, if you work in the recruiting industry, it’s definitely possible. Maybe even highly so.

Anyways: Randstad (big giant Dutch recruitment process outsourcing company) bought (former) big giant US job board company Monster.

Which is interesting.

This acquisition may benefit Randstad – the integrations are going to be fascinating – and there’s nothing wrong with that. If they really keep the Monster brand intact, it’s going to be tough long-term (and I don’t see them doing that). So, if it’s not to create an entire separate product company, and it’s me at Randstad, I’m doing this for a simple reason.

Growth, through (a modest) diversification.

The RPOs have had several years of growth in the EU and Asia-Pac, but were more stagnant in the States and Latin America. They’ll likely slow in the EU (political and economic instability may hinder job growth), but continue to scale in Asia-Pac, as hiring by scale vs quality is still more the need for many of the larger manufacturers. The larger RPOs have been retooling internal processes lately, seeking innovations in models, technology, offerings, etc. On the technology side alone, many, if not all, of them are dealing with legacy contracts from clients, have to work with disparate ATS’s due to their client base, often don’t do CRM internally, etc. Because of this, they don’t have the ability to get a strong handle on source tracking, SEO, etc etc, because their data is in multiple places.

Ranstad’s move makes sense, in this context. If they want to rip out a number of internal, hodgepodge systems, and replace them with something new, unified, and efficient (not to mention being able to provide this suite, at a cost, as a service to clients), then they have two options: build from the ground up, or buy an existing stack and adapt it.

My money’s on the latter. To buttress, consider this: the Ranstad Investment Fund that invest only in TA/ recruitment start-ups. Some of them, you know. They also have a really smart team.

Here’s why I think it adds up. First, Randstad is buying a stack that has some tested technology across most of the recruitment cycle. I say most of, for a reason. There are a couple important gaps.

Roughly, define the recruitment process as starting with “we need to hire someone” to end with “they started”. It’s everything in that gap. Monster’s tools hit at pieces of that process (sometimes over and over) – they’ve got workforce planning tools to get the job opened, advertising and research tools to find people, a CRM to keep track of leads, a career site hosting product for you, and an applicant tracking system (ATS) so you can track people as they apply and move through your process. The issue is… not all of it works well, or necessarily together. There are still issues with integration across the tools. The CRM is a challenge, to say the least. And – strangely – the ATS and career site hosting offerings aren’t even Monster-owned products.

That’s right: two of, one could easily argue, the most important parts of the overall hiring process, are not Monster. They’re HRSmart, owned by  . HRSmart no longer works very well (source tracking is minimal-to-nothing, career site occasionally goes offline for hours – sometimes an entire day, etc). We’ve been urging Monster to work on the issues, but… well, not their product. And the products owners are Deltek, which is simply a private equity backed acquisition play that is not investing in development. So they’re not gonna fix it.

I see a possible future. If Randstad completes their acquisition, they’ll have some holes to fill in the offering stack. Notably, ATS and career site. Randstad invests in recruitment technology, and there’s an opinion out there that it’s simply as a way to test and potentially acquire technology firms. One of their investments is a platform called gr8people: a career-site product, ats, and CRM all in one.

Again, if I’m doing strategy at Randstad, I’m sliding those products into the stack, and shoving HRSmart out. Heck, I’m looking at my entire portfolio, and saying “can we really step up, and offer a working ERP that focuses purely on TA? It makes sense, right? You get your own internal ERP running, since it can track the vast majority of your product cycle; can offer a full stack to your clients; and get all that anonymized data in one spot, finally, where you can begin to build data models.

Here’s the rub for you, the HRSmart user: this doesn’t happen tomorrow. You’re still stuck with a platform that’s frustrating, and not going to get any better due to the integration. You may get access to the Randstad stack at some point, but it’s going to come with costs (higher fees, unlikely you’ll be able to just buy career site hosting & ATS, pressure to go RPO).

If it’s me, and now I’m just me, the guy who used to run Talent Acquisition at a few places, and thinks about this stuff way too much, I’m going to want to hear about options if I’m an HRSmart customer. Heck, I may just want to hear about options because I don’t like my current platform. If only for safety, to make sure what I’m doing makes sense (there are a loooot of options out there right now).

Can I Help?

Since I’ve been there, and feel your pain, I’d love to make an offer (paying it forward, since I’ve been given similar help in my time).

Call me. Well, or e-mail me for times, and we’ll set something up. A half-hour chat, about where you’re at, and what are your options. I’ll pontificate, probably, but mostly there will be good advice, and probably some laughs. A shared war story. Or two.

Here’s the info:
Phone: 617-488-9444
E-mail: martin@hireclix.com

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