Online Job Recruitment – Trends, Benefits, Outcomes And Implications

Little more than a decade ago, online job searches were primarily the province of a tiny population of hardcore techies. Today, online recruiting forms one of the central pillars of a smart staffing strategy for firms in every economic sector.

Increasingly, job seekers are turning to electronic resources such as corporate web sites, federal, state, and municipal job postings, online job search engines and aggregators, Internet classifieds, and online versions of local and national newspapers to facilitate the job search process. Conversely, a growing majority of employers have moved a significant proportion of their recruitment efforts online. For professionals on both sides of the hiring equation, the notion of conducting a job search or candidate hunt offline is virtually inconceivable in 2007.

However, while it is undeniable that the movement online of many recruitment functions and job search resources has vastly expanded the scope, accessibility, ease, and efficiency of the recruitment process, the long-term implications of this trend remain shrouded in ambiguity. In the interim, the ever-quickening pace of technological advancement has thrust many HR practitioners into the awkward position of being forced to define a set of best practices for online recruitment on the fly, as it were, even as the protocols and methods that are being used in the process continue to evolve.

As with any moving target, the exponentially expanding trend of online recruitment resists easy definition and description. But by relying on a number of recent analyses and indices, it is possible to piece together a clearer picture of what the trend of online recruitment is and what it isn’t — and what it may portend about the future of HR.

Tracing the Trajectory of the Online Recruitment Trend, 2000-2007

Like virtually every other Internet-facilitated service, online job search and recruitment activity have vastly expanded since the year 2000. However, unlike many other Internet-based service trends that declined in the early 2000s, some analysts contend that the dot-com crash and the subsequent tightening of first the IT and then the general labor market actually facilitated the expansion of online job searches and recruitment efforts.

As the labor market was flooded with a sudden influx of laid-off workers, many of whom were refugees from the IT industry, online job search resources gradually emerged as a touchstone for millions of jobseekers. Although many firms had been listing open positions on their corporate websites long before this, the early 2000s was the period during which a truly distinct online recruitment paradigm emerged and first attained a level of critical mass.

Market data and statistical analyses of the burgeoning online recruitment industry seem to confirm this account. In 1999, it was reported that less than one-third of Fortune 500 companies were engaged in any form of online recruitment whatsoever, including the posting of open positions on the firm’s own corporate website. By 2003, that figure had jumped to 94%; today, it registers as 100%.

Job seekers are also focusing extensively — and in many cases, exclusively — on online sources in the process of seeking a new position. In 2003, it was reported that 45% of job seekers confirmed having consulted the Internet as part of their job search. By 2006, a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management put the number of job seekers who used online resources in their job searches at a staggering 96%. It appears that for a growing number of employees on the lookout for a new position, the concepts of “job search” and “online job search” are now virtually synonymous.

In the early days of online recruitment, most job sites were either maintained by a corporate parent solely for the purpose of internal recruitment, or operated on a volunteer or donation-only basis by individuals involved in a particular field or industry. Today, however, online recruitment is a lucrative industry in its own right; the top job search sites now regularly pull in hefty profits. This income is derived largely from ad revenues generated by companies willing to pay big bucks to market their wares to the millions of job seekers who regularly peruse sites like Monster.com and Yahoo! HotJobs.

In 2003, the online recruitment industry was generating slightly more than $3 billion in annual revenues. In 2007, the figure now exceeds $16 billion, with analysts estimating that the online recruitment industry could take in more than $20 billion annually as early as next year.

Taken together, all of the statistical indicators tell a story of exponential growth and expansion in the prevalence, popularity, importance, and profitability of the online recruitment industry. In the course of just a few short years, what once was a narrow niche market has exploded into mainstream ubiquity.

However, while there’s no denying the skyrocketing popularity of online recruitment, the outcomes and implications of this trend are not as clearly defined — or readily definable. Once the easily quantifiable variables of ad revenues and user counts are left behind, we enter the somewhat murkier territory of gauging the efficacy and impact of online recruitment.

These more subjective measures aren’t as precise, but they still offer valuable insight to firms seeking to refine and optimize their online recruitment strategy. In the next section, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits and pitfalls of online recruiting — and how they can impact your firm’s bottom line.

The Advantages of Online Recruitment

The widespread advent of online recruitment has ushered in a brave new world for jobseekers and employers alike, rife with myriad benefits and rewards. Some of these advantages are obvious, while others, though more subtle, are no less significant.

The most immediately apparent benefit of online recruitment is the vastly improved degree of recruitment process management this approach offers. Throughout every phase of the recruitment process, an online system facilitates a much more streamlined, standardized approach than traditional, paper-based recruitment. Many once-manual tasks, such as sorting, coding, filing, and routing application materials, can now be performed automatically. Some experts estimate that the average recruitment cycle is one-third to one-half as long as it was in the pre-Internet era.

This enhanced process efficiency contributes significantly to another major benefit of online recruitment — its cost-effectiveness. Although the costs of developing and implementing a full-scale recruitment system on a firm’s corporate web site are often not inconsiderable, recent studies and industry surveys indicate that most firms’ recruitment costs have decreased sharply after the shift toward online systems.

Some leading-edge online recruitment tools hold the promise of extending the efficiency of this approach even further. Applications like qualification quizzes, instant ‘fit’ assessments, skill-based evaluations, and other metrics can be administered instantly to candidates over the Internet, thus further winnowing down the number of résumés that must be hand-coded by HR personnel. Although not yet widely used, industry experts see this trend as an important component of online recruitment’s future.

Conversely, even as new and emerging tools can help firms weed out unsuitable applicants automatically, the shift toward online recruitment has also improved the 21st century job search by allowing employers to cast the broadest net possible in the search for qualified candidates. By using the Internet as a recruitment platform, companies have eliminated many of the geographical, cultural, and time-zone constraints that once narrowed the candidate pool. This benefit is particularly well-suited to today’s workplace, in which team diversity is appreciated as a way to gain competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

Experts have also noted that when properly managed, online recruitment’s positive impact can transcend the realm of HR and enhance the firm in other ways, as well. In an era in which image is everything, online recruitment can form an important component of an overarching brand management strategy. Whether or not a candidate opts to apply for an open position, the marketing collateral that’s packed into a carefully-crafted online job posting can help enhance brand awareness, an intangible but vital variable in today’s cut-throat competitive landscape.

The Disadvantages of Online Recruitment

Despite the rich promise inherent in the practice of online recruitment, there are potential drawbacks, as well. Although many of the current concerns will likely be able to be overcome through future advancements in the technology, they still merit serious consideration.

In the early days of online recruitment, many expressed concern that qualified applicants may be overlooked by recruiters focusing primarily on candidates who submitted online applications. Initially, this point was valid, as most of the jobseekers who were “early adopters” of online recruitment were a self-selecting group of college-educated, computer literature, and, for the most part, demographically homogenous individuals.

However, Internet use among the general public has skyrocketed over the last five years. Virtually every demographic group has an online presence, making it likely that the right candidates will find a way to connect with the right position. In addition, most companies continue to maintain traditional application channels to accommodate the needs of offline jobseekers.

Conversely, while some experts fear that the growing popularity of online recruitment may exclude too many potential applicants, others fear that online application methods aren’t exclusive enough. Now that virtually anyone can submit an application with just a few clicks of the mouse, the traditional barriers that worked to keep out wholly unsuitable candidates have now been largely eliminated.

Admittedly, this can pose a logistical problem for some companies. The glut of entry-level applications — most from wildly unqualified candidates — that descend upon companies in weeks following college graduation have attained near-legendary status.

But overall, most firms report that the number of inappropriate applications is manageable, and a small price to pay for the overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness gains they’ve realized from online recruiting. Furthermore, as the use of automated screening applications becomes more prevalent, the negative impact of inappropriate applications will be virtually eliminated.

A somewhat more thorny issue is the complaint that online recruitment erases the “human” aspect of human resources management. Although the automation of many phases of the recruitment process has led to massive gains in efficiency and cost-effectiveness, some critics have questioned whether this approach is too impersonal. This concern has validity in an era in which intangible factors such as a candidate’s organizational “fit” and the sense of “clicking” with the existing team dynamic are considered more important than ever before.

The counter-argument, of course, is that the parts of the application process that are now regularly managed by an online system are typically those that were once handled through postal mail. After the initial rounds of information exchange, most companies take the application process offline and proceed with telephone or face-to-face interviews. However, the fact remains that the same streamlined standardization that boosts the efficiency of online recruitment does depersonalize and decontextualized the process to a degree, depriving both recruiter and candidate of some of the subtle cues and clues that can convey so much information in human interactions.

What Does It All Mean? Considering the Impact and Implications of Online Recruitment

While it is abundantly clear that online recruitment has inexorably altered the hiring process, its impact upon the overarching practices and principles of human resources and personnel management are not yet fully defined. At the current juncture, it seems as if the primary change has been a technological one, in which the newspaper help-wanted ads and snail-mailed paper résumés of the past have been neatly replaced with their electronic successors.

In other words, although the tools we use have changed, most of the underlying principles that govern the recruitment process have remained basically unchanged. Today, the HR profession stands at a critical junction. We have been presented with the unique — and formidable — opportunity to help usher in a new paradigm that combines the best of both worlds — the efficiency and unparalleled reach of the Internet with the high-touch, intuitive, and exceedingly human focus of traditional recruitment methods.

Technology has been and will continue to be an important factor in this process, but we should bear in mind that it is a tool, rather than an end unto itself. Our overarching objective remains unchanged: as recruitment professionals, we are charged with the responsibility of finding and keeping the best candidates. Online recruitment should be regarded as just one of the many techniques we use to achieve this goal — no more and no less.

The Process of Recruitment Outsourcing

Recruitment is a part of the HR (Human Resource) process. It involves sourcing, screening and on-boarding those candidates who suits an employer’s profile requirement. By working in association with a service provider, an entrepreneur is empowered to source & pre-screen candidates as per the required skills. These third-party vendors assist clients in hiring, researching niche job panels, mapping competitive segments and so on. Also, they cater to the employment requirements of different business verticals (such as financial, retail, IT) from entry-level to management level positions.

A service provider monitors a recruitment process closely, by evaluating the number of sourced candidates, number of interviews conducted, number of offers made, number of joinings done. They even measure the overall business performance metrics, such as, average time taken to hire a candidate, ageing requisitions as well as cost per hire.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) services include the following:

• Requisition development with recruitment management
• Planning and implementation of candidate sourcing strategy
• Business consulting services
• Recruitment strategy development
• Screening services
• Interview scheduling
• Offer management services
• Staffing operations analysis & reporting
• Staffing & budgeting support
• Workforce management support
• Background check services
• Employee on-boarding

HR Administration and Employee Management

On-boarding: A service provider manages offer letters, new contracts, reference checks, joiner formalities and so on.

Probation: A service provider ensures that a client’s line managers are well informed about all the necessary probationary formalities.

Employee data management: A service provider ensures that employees are well informed about all the necessary probation formalities.

Structural changes: An outsourcing firm records a client’s database and updates any structural changes made on their part, by following up with the enterprise in every month or as and when required.

Absence: They also manage applications, leaves and absences under diverse categories, such as medical leave, maternity leave, etc. and process the same info to clients.

Other than this, provident funds, pension letters, relieving letters, etc. are also being handled by the HR consultants of an outsourcing firm.

Reliable solutions, dedicated team and tested methodologies ensure safety and confidentiality of an employee’s information.

Benefits and reimbursements

An outsourcing firm develops state-of-the-art HRO services, deploys technology enabled solutions, integrates a BPO model empowering an organization to operate efficiently. A service vendor transforms the recruitment process of an organization and empowers entrepreneurs to optimize their process and meet their short and long term HR objectives.

Besides, a third-party vendor also handles the employee reimbursement part such as medical and insurance settlement and so on.

The HR experts of an outsourcing agency are proficient in managing global employees and optimizing administrative and employment course through technology integration and process innovation, in workflow management, knowledge management and other relevant areas.

Revamping Company Recruiting Strategies to Attract Top Female Talent

Developing an effective strategy for the recruitment of top female talent is incredibly beneficial for businesses. Women make up approximately 51 percent of all workers in upper management and professional occupations. Currently, there are more women in management positions than men for the first time in American history with projected increases in the total world labor force by 2018. They are projected to account for 51.2 percent of the increase in total labor force growth by 2018. Many new start-up businesses are operated by women. Women make up 66% of the university population receiving the majority of college degrees. More women are attending and graduating from universities than ever before changing the make-up of our current workforce. These trends will greatly affect recruiting and hiring practices for businesses and organizations in the future. Companies that want to stay competitive should actively develop strategies or change their current one to help attract top female talent.

The first step toward marketing and recruiting women to work at your company is to review your company’s strategy. A comprehensive recruiting plan should include retention, diversity training and community involvement. As you review your recruiting plan, it is probable that you will see very traditional elements focused toward hiring male candidates. You might even find assumptions built-in to your verbiage expecting employees to work traditional hours; eight-hour days and forty-hour work-weeks with bonuses and vacations. Several recent hiring surveys show that when women look for positions, they look for different benefits than men. Flexible work arrangements have been listed as a main factor in what attracts women to a company and why they would stay with a company. Many companies are now developing female specific and targeted recruiting plans. Top companies with the best record of promoting women, outperformed competitors on average from 41 to 116 percent. In a study conducted by Pepperdine University. Another study indicated that companies with the highest representation of women in their senior leadership had better financial performance as a group than those with the lowest number of women. Sounds like a no-brainer to me?

Other research suggests however that men and women use the same search mechanisms to find a job. This leads us to believe that it is how we market the job that will become critical. Be considerate as to where you post your job advertisement. There are specific websites that cater to certain groups or types of professionals. Universities and Colleges are also great places to find candidates from relevant disciplines as are professional groups or affiliations. What about the tools that are used to screen applicants? In 2006, approximately 80% of companies listed that they used some type competency-based-selection in their hiring process. The competencies however, were based on traditionally male associated behaviors. When interviewing, have the candidate give you specific examples of what they did in a particular situation, not just a certain skill that they have listed in the job description. Surveys have also indicated that even your website can be designed to appeal to men or women. Maybe a focus group may be able to help to see if your site is on the right track? The point is to be aware of simple items within your process that may alienate potential new-hires. What about looking within for existing employees? Many recruiters and hiring managers do not actively seek out female talent already working in the organization. Talk to board members or senior leaders in your organizations. They may know potential candidates already working in your company that may not be actively seeking positions. Internal hiring and development of women are critical to support and advertise your brand image which will help you attract more candidates.

A company’s brand can also make a difference when marketing to women. Few organizations take the time to review how their public image is viewed by women in the market. Women often feel underserved by recruiters and organizations. This fact makes it very important to think about how your message can appeal to women. You will want to reflect that your company is a wonderful place to work and employees are valued. Specific items that women look for in job ads or during the interview may include job sharing, telecommuting, flexible work hours, and options for child care and elder care. IBM Intranet highlights over forty different examples of flexible work-arrangements in the recruiting packages. Microsoft offers the opportunity to choose what parts of flexible work arrangements they would be interested in as part of their yearly benefit allocation. Deloitte has offered changes in paternity leave and an emergency childcare plan for working parents under six-years-old. Fujitsu offers 120 percent of a mother who has returned to work after maternity leave until the child is fifteen months old to keep valuable employees.

Companies that provide collaborative work environments also seem to be good at attracting female talent. Being a socially responsible organization and demonstrated diversity practices by management may also be important factors to attract female applicants. Consider how your image reflects women in a variety of roles. Recruiters have to understand how women contribute to their organization and their communication styles. Consider using testimonials and interviews that showcase what you are doing and reinforce how work is rewarded and appreciated.

Training for your recruiters to understand the specific needs of female candidates is invaluable especially in hard-to-fill positions. Adapting your company standards and recruiting practices to be reflective of your diverse workforce might be the difference in attracting more female high potential employees. Fujitsu Services redesigned their recruitment literature for job fairs. The company feels that it has doubled the number of applications from women for their graduate programs since re-doing their brochures. The recruiters also describe what they do at their job instead of just saying they are technology consultants. This simple communication style change when delivering the message has made a huge impact. Another important aspect to include in interviewing is to explore the transfer of knowledge by asking for real-life examples. This will help find quality candidates who may have been out of the work force at different intervals in their career. Even widening the range of college degrees that qualify for a certain job may provide you with more candidates in the pool. Some computer companies have added Latin, Philosophy and Law as potential backgrounds in one IT company. They have seen a 46% rise in female applications for their company. The point, one size might not fit all.

When reviewing and developing your own strategy, consider what your company’s needs are when you create your advertisements. Thoughtfully place the job posting strategically on sites or in publications that meet your placement needs. Factor in flexibility and other work benefits that will be attractors instead of detractors. Carefully review your processes to see if they alienate certain candidates from the process. Even the competencies that are used to screen applicants should be carefully reviewed for bias and fairness. Ensure that your recruiters are trained to effectively work with female applicants and meet their needs. Finally, don’t rule out looking in non-traditional places for unexplored talent like internal employees, other fields of study, or employees that are returning to work. The main thing is awareness. As the work force changes and more and more women are the managers and leaders within your companies, the methods and recruiting practices that you use to attract them will have to change if you are going to stay competitive.