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The Truth about Internet Recruiting

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It seems like every day another Internet-recruiting Web site is hanging out its cybershingle. The sites make it all look so easy: just send us your job descriptions, they seem to say, and we'll have you waist-deep in résumés before you can say "hiring panacea."

But a panacea it's not. Tony Coretto, co-CEO of PNT Marketing Services, a $1.2-million marketing-database-development company in Valhalla, N.Y., says that he's found his Internet-recruiting efforts to be "totally ineffective" so far. "Unless you're looking for programmers in some cutting-edge technology, you're kind of out of luck," he says. "We're in the technical space but not the sexy part." Coretto is looking for folks who work in good old-fashioned COBOL. "Our clients have giant data sets that can be accessed most efficiently in COBOL," he explains.

"We figured since the Monster Board was one of the largest services out there, we might have some luck there," Coretto says. But what few responses he received either were way off the mark skill-wise or were from halfway around the world. For now he plans to stick with his tried-and-true hiring method: catching folks who have been retraining to change professions before they hit the job market.

Yet a number of today's fast-growing companies are using the Internet to recruit. Darlene Chapin, corporate-recruiting manager at Cheetah Technologies, a $50-million computer-network-management company in Bradenton, Fla., considers the Internet to be the most effective staffing tool her company uses. "But like anything else, it's no be-all and end-all," she says. "It takes practice, training, and commitment to make it pay off." Most of all, she says, managers need to think of Web hiring as a supplement rather than a replacement. "You need a complete recruiting process wrapped around it," she says.

At Cheetah, that process can include newspaper and technical-publication ads, job fairs, college outreach, employee-referral programs, and the occasional headhunter. Of course, with 325 employees, Cheetah has the luxury of having a technical-recruiting department with two members, both of whom have attended special Internet-recruiting workshops.

In addition to listing job openings on Monster.com, Headhunter.net, and Execunet.com, "plus many of the free job-posting sites," Chapin also participates in "virtual career fairs," in which the sponsoring company sets up a site on-line where potential applicants can submit résumés before a fair is held at a physical location. The résumés are then made available on-line and in disk form to participating companies, which can set up appointments beforehand if they plan to attend the fair in person, or they can simply follow up on-line, as Chapin recently did for the Boston fair. "Even if I'm not there, I still get to contact these people," she says.

Cheetah hasn't used a search agency in more than two years but has in that time managed to increase its technical staff by some 75 people, a feat that Chapin attributes in part to an increased focus on Internet recruiting. "It's a lot more efficient," she says. "We've multiplied our response rate by four." And now if an applicant is not just what she's looking for, "we get so many more qualified candidates, I actually get to say no."

Who's using Internet recruiting?
Inc. 500 companies that say they find
Internet recruiting useful, by business sector:
Computer-related 60.2%
Business services 17.6%
Consumer goods 4.7%
Telecommunications 4.1%
Health care 3.5%
Industrial products 2.9%
Construction 2.3%
Finance 2.3%
Media 1.8%
Transportation .6%



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