"That market is getting pretty saturated right now," said Bob Klehm, research director at the Giga Information Group in Cambridge, Mass. "Their competitive advantage is withering pretty quickly."
Online job boards increasingly confront feedback from frustrated users as well. The once common misconception that putting a résumé online guarantees a job is fading fast, said Kristina Ackley, the author of "100 Top Internet Job Sites." Job seekers also are demanding more features and better protection for their confidential information.
"Some of the job sites need to add more gusto and value to the job seeker," said Ackley, who is a communications manager at VeriSign in Dulles.
The sites also fight to capture the business of large employers who are spending more cash to improve their own corporate Web sites and, in some cases, cutting back on their outside expenditures in keeping with the slower economy.
That's where the ads come in. January is typically a month when people begin to think about switching jobs and when corporate budgets are newly flush with money. Both Monster and HotJobs paid more than $1.5 million for airtime alone to broadcast their ads. Monster's featured an Olympic athlete who will eventually need a paying job; HotJobs' focused on a job interview of a courtroom stenographer who parrots every word the judge says.
"What the Super Bowl is is a fantastic platform for communicating to consumers," said Taylor, the Monster executive. "It created the dominant brand we have today."
Companies are projecting fewer technology hires for the first half of this year, but they are determined to retain workers already on staff, according to a new report.
The study by Management Recruiters International Inc., a Cleveland firm, found that 35 percent of companies planned to add to their high-tech staff, and 52 percent said they would maintain their workforce at current levels. About 12 percent of the firms said they expected to lay off tech workers.
About 1,800 executives across the nation took part in the study.
The number of companies planning to bring in techies in the next five months was slightly higher than the number of firms expecting to hire new workers overall, but it was nothing like the highs of the past few years, said Vincent Webb, an MRI vice president.
"We think the bottom has been reached," Webb said. "Many of the companies are playing a wait-and-see game. They have needs, they want to hire, but there may be hiring freezes. There's an optimism under the surface."
Programmer Anne Emerick wrote with a suggestion for employers saddled with too many résumés.
"Consider making a technical test or a programming assignment part of your job-application process," said Emerick, of New York's Hudson Valley. "If companies made a technical evaluation -- either test or sample program) -- a requirement for anyone applying for a programming position, they would get a more reasonable number of applicants. Secondly, they would have information about those applicants that . . . is a better indication of their ability than a slick résumé."
About 16 percent of the attendees at last week's Pink Slip Party at Tysons Corner represented companies or recruiters in the hunt for high-tech employees. That's more than double the employer presence at the previous pink slip party, in October, according to founder Marcus Ronaldi.
Headline from the employee-friendly Web site NetSlaves.com: "Am I on Crack, Or Are the Classifieds Thicker?"
Please join Carrie Johnson today at 11 a.m. at WashingtonJobs.com at www.washingtonpost.com to talk about high-tech jobs in the D.C. area. Send tips and gripes her way at firstname.lastname@example.org.