E-recruitment is not a new thing. Last year, Pew Research noted that 61 percent of Americans (122 million people) regularly went online and 43 percent of them used the Internet to search for jobs. Over 5 million people search for jobs on the Internet each day. In Canada, 60 percent of those online have used the Internet for a job search.

Furthermore, the Newspaper Association of America found that job boards are fast gaining in overall recruitment advertising market share and are doing so at the expense of newspaper classifieds.

Want more proof? According to Forrester Research, Monster.com (the industry's largest player) more than doubled its income from job postings in 2001 while newspapers reported a 17 percent decline. In 2000, employment classified advertising in U.S. newspapers was worth US$8.7 billion. That plummeted to about US$4.3 billion for 2002 and less than US$4 billion for 2003. The reasons are clear, e-recruiting is faster, reaches a greater audience and is much more cost-effective. A Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) study last year, reported that the average cost per hire from an Internet recruiting strategy was $377 in comparison to the average cost per hire of $3,295 from a major metro newspaper.

Enough people seem to know e-recruitment is here to stay, including small and mid-sized employers. Research I conducted in early 2003 revealed that 81 percent of organizations with between 250 and 5,000 employees in North America had distinct (though mostly poor) corporate career sites for recruiting. However, far fewer have connected their "front-end" recruiting sites to "backend" recruitment management systems. This means that, despite the pervasiveness of the trend, more still needs to be done.

Recruitment technology to help source, attract, screen, rank, process, check and onboard candidates really can offer impressive return on investment - when it's done the right way.

Organizations that get it wrong run a substantial risk of wasting resources by pursuing the wrong solutions and/or vendors, or getting caught up in poorly planned and executed implementations. The following provides tips and best practices in career site design and in selecting technologies and processes that hold the most promise.

At minimum, organizations should operate a corporate career site with the following elements:

  • one-click links from all corporate Web pages
  • a link to corporate career site prominently displayed on the organization's home page and on key secondary pages (divisional and subsidiary home pages)
  • all online job postings on external job boards, etc. direct candidates through the corporate career page to apply
  • URL advertised on all print-based postings
  • information on benefits, corporate culture, work/life philosophy, training/education and advancement opportunities
  • clear and detailed job descriptions, ideally with information on the salary range
  • ability to create and store skills-based profiles that can be maintained and edited for future use by the candidate
  • ability to apply online
  • personalized e-mail acknowledgements to applicants
  • ability for candidates to refer a friend/colleague
  • ability for candidates to register for automated job alerts that automatically e-mail positions of interest to the candidate
  • a privacy policy and statement for candidates
  • prescreening questionnaires at the individual job posting level to help screen candidates and assist them in determining their fit for positions.

In order to manage applications efficiently, reduce time and cost per hire and collect vital data for workforce planning, organizations should connect their corporate career site to a recruitment management system with the following base features:

  • resume/profile database
  • ability for managers and recruiters to create requisitions and track them and applicants through the hiring procedure
  • powerful search tools that allow keyword and field-based searching at a minimum
  • a job posting distribution mechanism that streamlines the process of sending job requisitions to the corporate career sites and to multiple external Web-based job boards
  • extensive do-it-yourself configuration tools that allow trained administrators to change elements of the solution after it has been implemented (e.g., for workflow, job and resume templates, career site look and feel, custom reports, etc.)
  • ROI-based reporting and ad hoc reporting capability that gives administrators the tools to create whatever reports are necessary from the data collected by the system
  • advanced screening, sorting and ranking tools
  • available, proven ability to integrate with human resource management systems (HRMSs) and ERP solutions
  • solid business partners and/or XML APIs (extensible markup language application program interface, i.e., plug-ins and adaptors) to facilitate the integration of background checking, resume processing, online assessment/testing tools and more
  • integrated employee referral plan software (tools that automate the process of recommending friends and ex-colleagues to positions in the organization)
  • hiring manager and recruiter desktops (role-based, custom interfaces for key users of the solution)
  • support employee retention by providing all career opportunities and HR information resources to existing staff through intranets and employee portals. Use the technology to make it easier for talented employees to fulfill their career aspirations inside the organization than outside.

These are just the basics of good recruitment technology selection and use. Advanced best practices will be discussed in a future column.

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