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  • Recruitment Feature: Online revolution v traditional recruitment

  • Media: Leasing World

    Date: Apr 2009

    Article: Recruitment Feature: On-line revolution challenges traditional recruitment methods

    Author: Neel Amin, Managing Director - New Leaf Search

      

    On-line revolution challenges traditional methods
    Neel Amin – Managing Director at New Leaf Search, examines the increasing use of the internet in the recruitment industry

    Fact: Technology has made the biggest impact on the world of recruitment over the past decade; so much so that it has
    changed the rules of the game. The rise of the internet has challenged traditional recruitment methods, and revolutionised
    aspects of the process, ranging from attracting clients, and candidates, through to advertising vacancies, and back-office fulfilment.

    This is not in the least surprising as the benefits of on-line recruitment boast efficiencies in time and money as well as having an unparalleled and widespread geographic and industry sector reach. Furthermore, it provides an ideal platform for candidate and client interaction, which if planned and executed professionally, can give the perception of a more traditional and personal approach, albeit using automated processes to deliver this perception.

    Such beneficial attributes have resulted in a proliferation of on-line presence, led by recruitment agency websites, generic
    job boards, sector specific job boards, publications related websites with integrated job boards, and corporate websites featuring job portals. More recently, the social networking sites have also begun to take an interest in the recruitment space, and many of the larger job boards now offer integration with a number of social network sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo.

    Recent research has shown that for the first time more than half of people consider the internet as their first port of call when looking for a new job. Additionally, recruiters are increasingly using jobsites to proactively search databases of CVs that candidates have uploaded. Some recruiters utilise ‘web spider’ software specifically programmed to trawl through different job boards to identify potential candidates for more specialist assignments.

    New channels

    The growth of the internet has opened new channels of communication that have revolutionised the relationship between employers and potential employees. Recruitment companies know that one of their key challenges is sourcing and attracting the best candidates for their clients. Competition to recruit the best talent is intense, and the innovative use of the technology
    available is becoming increasingly important.

    What was once a labour-intensive task of uploading vacancies onto numerous job boards has been transformed by multiple job postings; a web-based solution that enables the recruiter to post job adverts to a large number of job websites as well as track where the responses come from at the push of a few buttons.

    Web presence alone may generate client and candidate traffic, but the trick is to maximise this through effective content management, and search engine optimisation. Thereafter, it’s a case of ensuring the visuals, content, features, and functionality draw the user to engage fully, not just once, but on a regular basis.

    Common features that make websites “sticky” in this way include job search functions, registering for job alerts by email, and posting CVs. Other features include providing the candidate the ability to update their own registration profiles, job alerts criteria, and CVs. Some recruiter sites allow candidates to have more than one CV uploaded as there is a trend for candidates to become multi-skilled, and apply for jobs in more than one sector, requiring a tailored CV for each. A few also provide the opportunity for candidates to participate in incentive schemes for referrals.

    A content-rich site incorporating comprehensive career and interview advice encourages return visitors whilst peripherals such as industry news and opinion, useful links including newsfeeds, translators, dictionary and thesaurus tools, maps and journey planners add favourably to the candidate experience. For clients, the recruiter’s website should provide an attractive
    shop window to assess their credentials, expertise and capability.

    Window on employers

    One of the most important results of the growth of the internet is that its users are now more informed about potential
    employers than ever before, and increasingly, job seekers are making decisions on how good a company is to work for based on their online presence. Users identify what they are looking for in a career, and evaluate any potential employer against this scorecard of needs and wishes. Employers must now ensure that their online presence is conducive to attracting the best possible talent.

    The same principle applies to recruiters. Recruiters need to ensure when presenting their vacancies that the branding is consistent and the message is delivered in a clear and concise way. It is essential that the job application process is simple and intuitive. In addition, a recruiter’s online presence should communicate much more than just the latest list of vacancies. Potential candidates’ first experience of a recruiter may be viewing these vacancies, and it is vital that the offering is targeted, and communicated, in the most effective manner.

    Ever increasing competition will place emphasis on innovation and high service delivery for every recruiter. A candidate’s
    expectations on online recruitment are now extremely high. Candidate attraction via online presence is one thing, but ensuring the appropriate follow-up and contact is another. Online presence can lead to a good source of candidates, but often recruiters fail to communicate effectively with such candidates. CVs often get deleted or dumped on databases with poor search functionality, and candidates are ultimately left with a bad taste in their mouths. It’s not really acceptable to invest substantial sums of money attracting talent to your organisation only to have a poor follow-up process.

    Facebook etc.

    Recent developments in the internet (whose implications for the recruitment market are still being explored) are those of Web 2.0, particularly in the area of social networking. The term Web 2.0 is a wide term used to encompass a number of recent technological developments, whose aim is to enhance information sharing and collaboration, and ultimately the functionality of the web.

    Of particular interest to recruiters is the field of social networking. Social networking sites focus on building online communities of people with interests in common, and connect people at a very low cost. It could therefore be seen as a cost effective way of expanding the base of potential applicants. The jury, however, is still out on how social networks could be used to attract the best talent, as many still see the phenomena as currently limited to purely social activities, although the use of LinkedIn as a professional networking site has proven useful in connecting recruiters and contacts in the business.

    It is very early to judge what effects social networking may have on the online recruitment industry but it is definitely an area to watch. It is undeniable that social networking is a cultural phenomenon, but its effectiveness as a recruiting tool remains
    questionable. But with all these developments and innovations in internet technologies it is vital recruiters keep up to date with them and ensure their online recruitment solutions remain upto-date, focused, easy to use and ahead of the game.

    Multi Media

    Multi-media is the next consideration for recruiters embracing the internet. It is only a matter of time before it takes a firm foothold in the world of online for the individual, and may include use of personality profiling, video, or portfolios. urthermore, recruiter websites will need to ensure that candidates can deposit CVs in a “secure locker” which can later be retrieved,
    updated or re-directed to other sites.

    Whilst the need to ramp up one’s degree of “web savvy” could seem a demanding challenge, this kind of functionality will soon become expected, and standard, if it is not already. Moreover, these functions will need to be available to an increasingly mobile end user, made fully accessible to clients and candidates through mobile and PDA. However, the frustrations experienced by early adopters of such initiatives indicate that this channel of communication remains unproven.

    Maintaining a balance

    The biggest change in online recruitment as a result of these technologies is therefore on the relationship between candidates and recruiters. To attract the best talent, recruiters need to reach the maximum number of quality candidates with consistently branded and attractive vacancies, all backed up with a visible and persuasive online presence. Achieving this is key, and recruiters that get it right will find themselves being recruiters of choice amongst the evergrowing online communities.

    It is often suggested that while providing a useful method of contacting and communicating with applicants, the internet cannot replace the face to face personal touch of a real life recruiter. There may even be a push away from technology as a result of security scare stories. Experian recently warned recruiters and employers to be aware of organised criminals using cloned career histories to secure employment in order to commit insider fraud.

    Recruiters should be sensitive to the issue of candidates being treated as a commodity rather than individuals, and should take appropriate measures to prevent this from becoming a reality, and ensure their online activity remains a welcoming, friendly, and consistent place for applicants to visit, and re-visit. It’s all about developing a more personal approach to attract and keep their guests online.

    Conclusion

    Some recruiters argue that the impact of the web and technology has been overestimated and the industry should not ignore tried and trusted methods. New does not necessarily mean superior. For example, the current backdrop of MySpace and You Tube could lend itself to video CVs becoming the norm, but experienced recruiters will be the first to say that although they may have a small part to play in the recruitment process, pre-selecting candidates using paper or electronic CVs is still far more efficient.

    It is important to remember that the internet will not eliminate the human element in recruitment and recruiters will still play a vital role in building rapport with candidates on which successful recruiting relies.

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