DirectEmployers: Monster Threat? has spent hundreds of millions of dollars gobbling up rival career sites.

To date, the spree has paid off handsomely — some of the world’s largest employers advertise openings with the Maynard, Mass., company and nearly 9 million candidates visit each month. And a recent earnings report, shows Monster is doing well despite the poor economy.

But Monster (part of TMP Worldwide ) and competitor HotJobs (part of Yahoo ) are facing an uprising that could undermine their acquisition strategies.

Tired of paying what they consider high listing fees, 25 companies have formed the E-Recruiting Association, an employers’ collective based in Indianapolis, Ind.

Through its searchable site,, the nonprofit displays members’ job vacancies.

The jobs are aggregated automatically so human resource personnel don’t waste time inputting job descriptions. And, seekers are directed to the homepages of members.

The move is worrisome for for-profit career sites for several reasons. First, the caliber and size of the companies on board. Charter members include technology
titans IBM , Intel and Unisys as well as defense contractors and others high-volume hirers. Initially, membership was by invite only, but it is now open to any business.

The second is the group’s leadership. Executive director Bill Warren is a former Monster president who knows the sector, having founded Online Career Center (OCC) in 1992.

Warren later sold the site to New York-based TMP and has had legal clashes with his former employer as recently as last year. TMP lawsuits claiming violation of non-compete agreements and trade secrets disclosures effectively quashed the for-profit startup Warren was leading.

That being said, Warren insists the new venture isn’t aimed at toppling paid sites. Instead, he sees as a way for companies’ to diversify their online recruiting strategies. It’s difficult to see however, how DirectEmployers wouldn’t siphon revenue from paid sites.

“We are a group of companies,” Warren told “It’s not about me. Our goal is not to cause harm to Monster or Hotjobs or anyone else, but to have companies look at how they handle online recruiting.”

Cost is the greatest incentive for joining the E-Recruiting Association, Warren said. Depending on size, companies pay annual dues of $6,000 to $60,000 to support
the dozen workers and site upkeep. That figure can be as little as a tenth of listing costs on a paid site, Warren said.

A Monster spokesperson did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. However, Warren said his erstwhile employer has blocked DirectEmployers from linking to Monster “private label” corporate sites — HR sections of corporate Web sites run by Monster.

Warren said as much as 60 percent of members’ fees will go into marketing, however most of that will be online.

“Boston doesn’t have to worry about a DirectEmployers blimp,” joked Warren in a reference to the Monster blimp that hovers over sporting events.

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