Hire on the wireOn 2 May 2000 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article On-line recruitment sites look as though they could be the answer to makinglife easier for the HR manager, but a site without proper management andtechnological infrastructure behind it may only cause more problems when tryingto find the right candidateWhat makes a good site?1 At their simplest, on-line recruitment sites are electronic jobboards which look and act like on-line models of recruitment pages in anewspaper or magazine. An HR manager posts a job on them and people respond,only the CVs usually arrive by email, not in the post. It may well be that asimple site like one of these answers your needs but they are unlikely todeliver a long-term, cost-effective recruitment solution for the HRprofessional. If you’re expecting an on-line recruitment site to make your lifeeasier, lower costs, speed up recruitment times and, most importantly, find youthe right employee every time, you need to look for a site which has the propermanagement and technological infrastructure behind it.Sites such as Monster (www.monster.co.uk), TotalJobs (www.totaljobs .com),Peoplebank (www.peoplebank. com), Stepstone (www.stepstone.co.uk) and Wideyes(www.wideyes.com) are typical of the new breed of more well-rounded recruitmentsites, which claim to offer these features. In design terms, such sites oftenlook more like an on-line magazine, carrying articles and other content, suchas expert advice, career healthchecks and psychometric testing. Rather thancalling themselves job sites, some refer to themselves as “careermanagement” companies and the emphasis is on servicing an individualthroughout their career or an organisation throughout its corporatedevelopment.It’s all a far cry from the early job boards which did little more thanbombard the poor HR manager with untargeted CVs and earned on-line recruitmenta bad reputation. “Every job is only a click away now and the HR managercould easily find themselves being emailed 500 CVs which they then had to printand look at,” says Bill Shipton, managing director of Peoplebank.Unfortunately, residuals of this practice still exist and even the inclusionof an email address in a press ad is sometimes enough to encourage a lack ofthought before a job seeker applies. “One week we had a candidate send thesame e-CV for every job we advertised: head of IT, logistics director andbanker,” says Joelle Warren, managing director of recruitment specialistWalton Churchill Search and Selection. “We are seriously consideringremoving our email address from job adverts to make candidates think before theyreply.”What should HR managers look for?2 In the light of the comments above, what clearly sets a goodrecruitment site apart from a bad or indifferent one is the ability to targetCVs precisely. This means that one of the major concerns for an HR manager isthe accuracy of the site’s candidate matching and the quality of its peopleassessment tools (this is dealt with in more detail later). Aside from this youshould also be asking questions like how often they clean their database ofcandidates (if it boasts several hundred thousand names but hasn’t been cleanedfor three months, it’s meaningless) and how much traffic the site is getting.”Numbers are important because they make it all possible, but you’ve gotto have the tools on top to do the job and the right CVs,” says SimonParker, UK marketing director of Monster.com, the current worldwide marketleader in on-line recruitment.It’s easy to get overwhelmed by figures but ask about site traffic, numberof jobs posted and the size of CV databases because it starts to build apicture of the major players in the market. Monster, the US company which cameto the UK in 1996, has hubs in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore andthroughout Europe. Its Monster.com, as opposed to Monster.co.uk site, is visitedby 9 million people a month, lists over 450,000 jobs and has a database of over2.7 million CVs. The .co.uk site receives around 100,000 visits a month and theaverage user session is up to 10 minutes. Over 7,000 CVs sit in its database.Reed Business Information, publisher of Personnel Today, has 27,000 jobs on itsTotalJobs site. It claims to have 3 million page impressions a month and over200,000 users, which is impressive for a Web site that went live just sixmonths ago. PlanetRecruit, launched in February, claims to offer 50,000 jobson-line and has a CV database of 28,000, going up by 400 a day. It puts pageviews at 1 million a month.All sites should be able to give you such figures and while you shouldn’tnecessarily believe everything you hear, always bear in mind the quality overquantity adage (remember, how current is that database). You should then startto accumulate some useful benchmark figures.User profile is another important issue. As you’d expect, there is a veryhigh proportion of IT people who use the Net for recruitment which is good newsif all you want are IT professionals but not if you’re after a less technicalmember of staff. It may well be that a niche site catering for your ownindustry already exists (see 8).How much does it cost?3 As with anything, this is negotiable but can range from a one-offfee of £250 to simply place a job advert to upwards of £10,000 for a completecorporate strategy. In theory, on-line recruitment should lower the cost of recruitment becauseit streamlines the process for job seekers and employers and therefore lowersoverheads. For instance, if you place a one-off job ad at Peoplebank(www.peoplebank.com) for £499, it guarantees to deliver 10 well-matchedprospective candidates. Peoplebank, set up in 1995, is the most establishedon-line recruiter and if its matching is as effective as it claims, you mayfind that you make more than one appointment from that 10, which will have madefor a very economical recruit indeed.At the newly launched Wideyes (www.wideyes.com), individual job adverts arefree and clients can have a detailed corporate profile for one year at £500.TotalJobs rate card starts at £250 for a single job ad but with bulk deals thiscan be reduced to as little as £70 for 500. As it is still early days inon-line recruitment’s evolution, companies are very keen to state that costsare “negotiable” and there are nearly always bulk deals to be done. Many of them want to forge long-term relationships with clients so HRmanagers are in a strong bargaining position. Test them out with someindividual job adverts first and drive a hard bargain when it comes to the costof these. If the on-line recruiter has confidence in his or her product, you’llprobably get a good price. After all, if the site can deliver a crop ofwell-matched CVs to your desk the following morning (or even that afternoon,such is the immediacy of the Net), you will feel far more inclined to involvethem in a longer term strategy. If, however, they do no more than spam you withuntargeted CVs (the equivalent of electronic junk mail), you won’t have losttoo much money finding out that they are not for you.Candidate matching4 Any on-line recruitment site worth its salt will offer effectivecandidate matching but assessing how good that matching is before you use asite isn’t easy. If a site offers no more than basic keyword searches onelectronic CVs, the chances are it isn’t sufficiently sophisticated to make aneffective selection, says David Taylor, e-commerce consultant and president ofthe IT directors’ association Certus. He adds, “Many search engines canonly really do boolean searches on CVs and a CV isn’t necessarily anenlightening document anyway, for a start, it’s self-penned. Sites really needto use some form of structured application process and forms when puttingtogether their database.”This sort of approach, combined with psychometric testing, offers the HRmanager the best on-line solution. “The Net represents a tremendousopportunity for the HR profession,” says Roy Davis, head of communicationsfor SHL, which has been involved in candidate testing technology behind anumber of sites in the US and most recently in the UK for Wideyes.Davis cites psychometric testing as a vital stage in on-line recruitment’sevolution and one which is really going to make the difference to an HRprofessional. The Wideyes technology, called TrueFIT, incorporates test resultsthrough matching logic to ensure a better fit between candidates and employer. The candidates are taken through detailed profiling questions which aredesigned to help them find jobs best suited to their personal goals andaspirations. “With Wideyes, SHL has been exploding the myth that socialand emotional skills are of secondary importance,” says Davis. “Theyare equally important to the employer because it is increasingly recognisedthat unless the candidate has the right cultural and emotional fit, that personwill not be a success.”Similarly, the launch of Jobsift.com, an Internet screening tool that can beported to a client’s website or bulletin board or used as a standalone product,is another potential landmark development. Developed by specialist psychometricconsultants PSL, Jobsift is designed for situations where a large volume of candidateshas to be rapidly reduced to a shortlist. A structured questionnaire helps acompany match candidates’ skills, abilities, attitudes and experience againstits own required competencies and corporate values. Jobsift claims to processsuch information instantly so it is possible to get real-time feedback on how arecruitment campaign is going. Candidates who have the right fit are informedimmediately via their PC.Do you still need a traditional recruitment arm?5 In short, the answer is yes, for the time being anyway. As with anyservice provided on the Net, it doesn’t mean you have to score out what wentbefore – it’s far better to see it as another recruitment tool. “There aresome 6,000 recruitment organisations out there with people who are too good tobe overlooked,” explains Chris Moore, marketing director of Stepstone. Hiswords are echoed by Simon Parker of arch rival Monster. “You don’t need todo away with one because you’re using the other.” Similarly, it doesn’thave to follow that you stop using press advertising.Reed Business Information’s (RBI) TotalJobs site is intended to workalongside its set of trade magazines whose lifeblood is recruitmentadvertising. Paul Ivory, TotalJobs’ web producer, points to the importance ofhaving the backing of RBI’s traditional recruitment experience. “That’svery important because it gives us a lot of kudos in the marketplace; peopleknow we know about recruitment and that history is pivotal.”Market share and profile6 There are huge branding exercises going on by the larger sites,which are jostling for position. Stepstone’s poster and press campaign has donemuch to raise the profile of Internet recruitment as a whole and it is about tounveil a mighty sponsorship package with a terrestrial TV channel. Press andposter campaigns from the likes of TotalJobs, Monster and Top Jobs inrecruitment sections of newspapers and trade magazines means that the jobseekeris already feeling spoilt for choice when it comes to depositories for his orher e-CV.So how will the market settle down and who will win out? Monster’s SimonParker says that it’s “myopic” to place too much importance onMonster’s position as worldwide number one. “We’re more concerned withbeing the best site for our customers,” he says. In truth, because acertain scepticism still surrounds on-line recruitment, the major players allhave an industry-wide image-building exercise as well as their own profiles toraise.Technology7 It is reasonable to expect search and assessment technology to be furtherhoned over the next 12 months. But you also need to be aware of some of thetools you can use in-house to screen and track CVs. We’ve already mentionedJobsift, screening technology which can be used on a Website, as part of anintegrated system or else as a standalone product. SHL has a similar systemcalled ApView, which is used in the US by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which onlyaccepts applications made via the Net for some jobs.Another useful tool is Halcyon’s Nemesis Intranet Search, which lets youbuild a resource of candidate information, including CVs and related documents.Nemesis indexes the data so it is fully searchable and the user sets the searchcriteria. Personic Software’s Personic Workflow suite is also designed tostreamline the collation and tracking of these vital but often very disparateelements and in turn help HR managers instantly compare candidate data.As for delivery technology, the recruitment world, like everybody else, isexcited by the prospect of WAP (Wireless Application Protocol technology),which allows access to parts of the Internet on mobile phones. The Internetconsultancy Proteus is already working with recruitment companies to implementWAP technology so applicants can view job vacancies through a mobile phone. Italso means they could send their CV from their mobile phone, which is far morediscreet that doing it from a workplace PC. “I think WAP will be reallyuseful for recruiters,” says David Taylor. “If an IT contractor is inthe US while his recruitment campaign is going on over here, he can stillmonitor how it’s going and have a CV sent to him at a keystroke.”Bill Shipton of Peoplebank is less convinced about WAP but is optimisticabout the potential of digital TV as a delivery medium. “Within three tofive years, you’ll be able to come home and look at your job offers on theTV,” he predicts.Also expect faster ways to access the Internet. Most people have heard ofISDN, which offers high speed transmission of data compared with standard phonelines, but expect to hear more about ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line),which will offer even faster delivery, when its available in July. It willoffer an ‘always-on’ high speed connection to the Net. For more information, goto BT’s web site at www.btopenworld.com.Employer options8 On-line sites currently are tending to be all things to all people,with the niche emphasis coming in the shape of tailored features on the site.TotalJobs, for instance, has 28 vertical markets on its site with hyperlinks tosome of its publications.In the long-term, it looks like niche and general recruitment sites willhappily co-exist, much like general and specialist advertising in the press.David Taylor believes the market will settle down to around four or five bigplayers and maybe a couple of other “big databases” which will use aniche focus, he says, to drive traffic into those databases. Chris Moore ofStepstone is of a similar mind: “There’ll be two or three major playersand there’ll be little niche sites – such as a site that caters for theconstruction workers in the south-east, for instance, there’s room forboth.”The idea of a niche site is not new although the next few months will likelysee their real emergence. Good working examples include Recruit Media(www.recruitmedia.co.uk), set up in 1989, specialising in media professionals.Its own particular niche, the media, made it a natural for the Net and founderVictoria Lubbock set out Recruit Media’s store early as an evaluator of qualityand also as a partner in long-term recruitment partnerships.A more recent specialist site launched in April is Onvocation(www.onvocation.com) dedicated to the banking and financial sector. The sitefeatures updated lifestyle and career-related content each day. “Thefuture of on-line recruitment is specialisation, combined with the added valueof unique content created for that niche market,” says Dierk Mueller, oneof the company’s co-founders. “The problem with many generic sites is thatthey try to please everyone and end up pleasing no-one. Job seekers know thatwhen they go on to Onvocation there will be banking and financial jobsavailable – and plenty of them; while recruiters can be confident that theywill be reaching quality candidates who are interested in what they have tooffer.” Employers can post four job adverts on the site for four weeks for£500.Other options include sites dedicated to temporary workers. Claiming to bethe world’s first on-line temp agency, tempz.com recently went live,incorporating everything on-line from registration, skills-testing andtimesheets to invoicing and BACS payments.Personnel behind the sites9 Expect a mixture of backgrounds, with a good crop of e-commerce entrepreneursand movers and shakers involved. It’s been impossible to miss the dotcomentrepreneurs who have become multi-millionaires over the past few months. Someof these have migrated into the jobs sector because they know the potentialscale of the market. And there has been defections of key personnel to rivalagencies. Smarterwork.com, which isn’t an on-line recruitment company in the puresense of the word, but rather an on-line skills marketplace which allows arecruiter to source everything they need to get an on-line job done, hasfanfared the appointment of former Monster senior producer Denis Gaynor asproduct development manager. Its management team also includes Ft.com’s andSportal’s former head of marketing, Yehuda Shapiro. Wideyes boasts a mix ofe-commerce and traditional expertise with the UK manager Keith MacKenzie, aformer consultant for international recruitment company Michael Page and JonasGranstrom, who founded Sweden’s first on-line recruitment company calledJobline.As an HR professional you would be unlikely to appoint a traditionalrecruitment company without knowing who was behind it so adopt the samephilosophy with an on-line recruiter. All sites should have an “about us” button or contact detailswhich will enable you to find out more about who’s behind the site.Security and codes of conduct10 The entire world of e-commerce is dogged by these two issues.Everybody should be familiar with the fear of using a credit card on-line eventhough good e-commerce sites have secure servers that enable these transactionsto take place safely. The job seeker’s equivalent of this is “how safe isit to put my CV on-line?” Although figures prove that plenty of peoplehave overcome this fear (there are an estimated 4.5million CVs on-line), horrorstories of a candidates CV ending up on their employer’s desktop aren’tentirely without foundation. As in the world of e-commerce transactions, any reputable site will havesecurity mechanisms, such as security ID numbers attached to a CV, put in placeto track and control precisely where that CV goes.Unscrupulous activity such as unauthorised duplication of CVs fromcompetitor sites, the creation of fictitious vacancies to attract traffic andexaggerated pay and packages will also hopefully be on the way out thanks to astrict code of conduct that is being enforced after a working party was set upby the Government. External relations director for the Recruitment andEmployment Confederation (REC), Christine Little, says, “We plan to createa code or standard relating specifically to on-line recruitment agencies. Wewant to involve people who use the industry, as well as people who work init.” She adds: “The code will go beyond the minimum standards imposedby regulations. They will be higher than the standards proposed in theEmployment Agencies Act. The code should be published by the summer.• Sue Weekes is deputy editor of the net magazineWhat’s next? The Net could become HR professionals most powerful toolFigures from Forrester Research say that 96 per cent of all companies willuse the Internet for recruiting by 2001. In Europe, the on-line recruitmentmarket was worth £46.5m last year, double what it was in 1998. A survey by theIPD in May 1999 found that a third of employers were using the Net for jobadverts, compared with only 14 per cent two years ago.Nobody can ignore these figures and as long as codes of conduct are inplace, the Net will become the HR professionals most powerful tool ever. Themost exciting aspect is that as well as speeding things up and saving money, itwill let you integrate and implement a more tailored approach to recruitment.Mini job boards or job sections are already appear on corporate sites whichwill be powered by some of the bigger player – Peoplebank has just done thisfor Pret a Manger. Also the database of profiles and psychometric analysis thatmanagers can build up for prospective candidates and existing staff isimmeasurably powerful.Computer-assessed psychometric testing can’t replace human assessmententirely but one day when your department profile of core competencies is helddigitally, it will be possible to pinpoint precisely the kind of person neededto complete the fit of the team. And because it is much easier to shareinformation across networks, it will be simple for line managers to getinvolved in the recruitment process earlier. “Line managers can share inthe assessment process and, for instance, generate questions they want the HRmanager to ask,” says SHL’s Roy Davis. “This will mean we’ll getbetter selection because stakeholders in the recruitment process are being morewidely involved.”But Davis warns, that to take advantage of the new technologies, HR must bereceptive in order to capitalise on it. Related posts:No related photos.
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