Job hunting in the 21st centuryOn 14 Jan 2003 in Personnel Today Withmore organisations using online methods to recruit new staff, Caroline Hornexamines the importance of making sure you get your corporate website rightOnline recruitment can be a powerful tool in helping companies to reach andattract the best candidates, but while many companies might claim to berecruiting online, in reality very few are doing so in any meaningful way.Effective online recruitment could be as low as 10 per cent in the topblue-chip corporates. Bill Shipton, commercial director of workthing.com and chairman of theAssociation of Online Recruiters, says: “Some companies only use thewebsite to ask candidates to send their CV to the HR department. At the otherend of the scale are the organisations that have really grasped the nettle ofwhat their corporate website can do for them.” These are the ones that areusing online recruitment to make the recruitment process quicker, moreeffective and less expensive, and to enhance their employer brand. For companies planning to recruit online, the main message has to be, get itright – poor site management can do more harm than good to a company’s image.Robert Leggett, managing director of Omni IT, says: “When you put jobadvertisements online, you might get 200-300 responses within 24 hours and youhave to respond to them all because it will reflect on your company brand. Youalso have to keep everything up-to-date.” From the outset, companies have to be clear about what they want their siteto do for them, says Leggett. “Will they be using the site as a marketingtool to attract candidates, or to manage recruitment and to help build acompany’s talent pool? Do they want to process a certain number of candidatesthrough the website, or do they just want a web presence? And how much work dothey want it to do for them?” Maintaining your system Companies also need to decide who is going to use, manage and maintain thesystem – IT, HR and other departments will be involved and their activitiesneed to be co-ordinated. Tim Elkington, managing director of Enhance Media,suggests that most recruiters will chose to use an ASP (Application ServiceProvider), like i-GRasp, to set up and run the online recruitment system – theadvantages being that the ASP will assist with the technology and systemprocesses. However, if a company has bespoke requirements, or wants to include moredistinctive tools like videos, it might be better setting up an in-housesystem. Whatever route is chosen, the outcome should be an easy and straightforwardexperience for candidates, says Shipton. “The first thing a candidatewants is to be able to search a job by function, and if they have seen anindividual job advertised, to be able to apply for the job online.” Website features should, therefore, include: a clear, one-click link on thehomepage to the recruitment site; a good search engine, allowing candidates tohighlight their preferences; clear job descriptions and skills requirements; aclear and concise application process; and an interactive link to an HR contact– not just a mailing address. Information about the company and its corporateculture should also be available – companies should be aiming to impress apotential candidate and to persuade the best that they want to work for them. Get the basics right Simple enough, but Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association ofGraduate Recruiters (AGR), says that there are many basic things that companiesare still getting wrong. Students – among the most demanding of candidates – are unimpressed by sitesthat put style over substance, and offer their own checklist for recruiters,which includes: tell it like it is, keep the site simple and easy to workthrough, give up-to-date information (things like salary and job vacancies candate quickly), and keep applicants informed at all stages. A study by Cambria Consulting, Boston, highlights best practice in webrecruitment. As well as clear navigation tools and information on corporateculture and career opportunities, the best sites will include a number ofadditional functions – tools such as a ‘job cart’ to allow applicants to searchand apply for multiple openings, résumé builders and other supplementaryjob-search advice, and personal search engines that allow applicants to create,and update, personal profiles in a company’s database. There are other technical issues that companies have to get right –applicants don’t like being kicked off a site because they answered a questionwrongly, for example, or being cut off mid way through an application withouthaving had the facility to save the information. Once applications are in the system, companies should not have to spendhours perusing every application – the system can filter candidates withquestions ranging from ‘do you have a degree?’ to online questionnaires or morecomplex psychometric testing. Leggett points out that HR at Madame Tussaudsmanaged to reduce its recruitment processes in time terms by two-thirds, havingused the system’s abilities to filter applicants. i-GRasp has moved towards tailored application forms for specific jobs, not‘one-size-fits-all’ applications, says managing director Andy Randall, which ismore satisfying for the candidate than a standard set of questions. “Youwant the processes to be fast for the applicants, but you also want to askquestions that show you are interested in their skills and you want to find outwhether they answer your requirements.” Achieving a balance A company needs to achieve a balance between asking enough information tosatisfy its needs, while not asking so much that the candidate is put off atthe first hurdle. Randall advocates that, initially, a company asks threescreening questions to help candidates know if they are wasting their time byapplying. This could be a simple ‘Do you have an MBA?’ to a more complex, ‘Doyou have five years working in the soft drinks industry?’. “In other words, a single point that is a key requirement for thejob,” says Randall – there is no point in the candidate going any furtherif they don’t have that experience. Once a candidate knows if they have the relevant skills, a company can askmore open questions, perhaps around the job itself. “If it’s aboutmarketing in a soft drinks environment, ask what launches have you done in thesoft drinks market in the last three years?” says Randall. These are application-specific questions to the job and to the type ofindividual applying. As well as helping in the decision-making process, itensures the candidate feels that the process is more personal, as well asrelevant to the job they are applying for. Further down the line, onlinepsychometric testing can help screen out those whom the company does not wantto interview. For those candidates who are offered an interview, companies can help tokeep them interested through a number of electronic tools. i-Grasp, for example,offers an ‘interview zone’ on the company’s recruitment site to help candidatesprepare and giving them a choice of time and location for interview. A web camat the company’s premises gives them an idea of what the building looks likewhen they arrive, so they know they’re at the right place. But while aesthetics are important in online recruitment, so is speed ofresponse. “A lot of companies have a flash website but then once you’vefilled in the forms, everything is very slow,” says Randall. HRdepartments should be able to measure how long every stage of the onlinerecruitment process takes, so they know how long a candidate has waited for aresponse. Alliance and Leicester, for example, tells applicants that they will get aninitial response to an online application within seven days. Linking-up to HR Successful online recruitment also depends on HR departments linking theweb-based recruitment facility to their in-house HR systems, says Elkington.”The full back-to-front integration, from someone coming to the site,filling in a form, being interviewed and becoming an employee, is better. It’sa question of getting all the people involved to work together.” Major players in this area include i-GRasp and Axiom, which use bothsoftware and consultancy to bring automation and standardisation to theprocess. There is also more back end technology available to bridge the gap betweenthe web face and SAP HR management systems. For example, a new software packagefrom Snowdrop, called CV Extractor, has been developed to extract keyinformation (eg, name, address, skills) from a candidate’s CV. It then sendsthat information to the recruiter’s HR system, reducing the amount of manualintervention required by HR. Companies do not need to bring all the information in-house, however.Departments using online recruitment to build a ‘talent pool’ can develop theirdatabase in a secure site provided by the ASP and can access that informationwhen recruiting for future positions. HR should also keep itself informed about which website and job board isbeing successful for which jobs, by using the applications it receives to findout who is responding to certain advertisements. “Find out the kind ofpeople it’s attracting so you can check your own strategy,” says Leggett. As well as promising efficiencies and speed, online recruitment isincreasingly being seen as an effective branding and marketing tool forindividual companies and as a good way of attracting people to a corporatesite. Railtrack, for example, used its recruitment site to challengepreconceptions of the company, while Scottish Power used a fairly simple quizto help applicants find out more about the firm. With companies now keeping a watchful eye on costs, and keen to extend theirreach, online recruitment is likely to grow in the next few years. A study by iLogos Research showed that 76 per cent of Euro 500 companieshave developed a careers section on their websites, with all 500 expected tohave careers sections and be accepting online applications by 2004. And the technology is improving all the time. Just a few years down theline, says Randall, we could all be using the ad-breaks on television to hopover to a website on our digital television, and search for a new job. How do some of the top corporate recruitment sites measure up?Workthing reviewed the careers sitesof 25 FTSE companies in three key areas: site design, content andfunctionality. The study revealed that while sites now present good companyprofile information, many still suffer from unclear links, out-of-date jobs andlimited candidate relationship management. Personnel Today looked at fivecorporate career sites to see how they rated.Big Food Groupwww.bigfoodgroup.comWhere does it rate well?The site offers good branding reflecting the nature of theproduct ranges, sub brands and industry with a depth of company information onthe home page – but it is bland and there is little to differentiate it fromothers.Where does it under-perform?There is no link to recruitment from the corporate site – avisitor has to select a sub brand, for example, Iceland, then to selectcorporate information to find out about jobs. There is no job search facilityon the group site.Orangewww.orange.comWhere does it rate well?The site has a clear home page with the job section easy tofind and navigate. Jobs can be searched by location, category or key word. Itis also simple to set up a job alert.Where does it under-perform?There are very few jobs on the site – only two were availableacross all categories, nationwide, although these were clearly presented andprovided good detail on salary, skills needed etc.Marks & Spencerwww.marksandspencer.co.ukwww.marksandspencer.comWhere does it rate well?The site provides a clear picture of the company’s brand andwhy you should want to work for them with the company vision, key facts andawards displayed. There is ample information on typical roles, benefits, and soon.Where does it under-perform?There were no specific vacancies advertised – although visitorsare told the group has seasonal vacancies, visitors are advised to ‘Find yourlocal store details’ for more information, or to ‘Watch out for our recruitmentadvertisements in the national, regional and specialist press’ for head officevacancies.Barclayswww.barclays.comwww.barclays.co.ukWhere does it rate well?The site has a comprehensive graduate career site withprofiles, details of training and development and working life.Where does it under-perform?The only roles advertised are for graduates – and even thosewere closed to further applications, ahead of the official closing date of 3January.Powergenwww.powergen.co.ukwww.pgen.co.ukWhere does it rate well?The site provides a lot of company information, productioninformation, and group financials and there is a comprehensive graduate area.Where does it under-perform?The powergen.co.uk site is aimed at consumers and does notdirect you to the corporate site (pgen.co.uk) where the jobs are featured.Little information is given on working culture. While the pgen.co.uk siteallows you to search for jobs, there are no vacancies advertised on the site.Take-home points…1 Companies have to be clear about what they want their onlinesite to do for them2 The site should be an easy and straight-forward experiencefor candidates3 Tailored application forms for specific jobs are moresatisfying for the candidate than a standard set of questions4 As well as promising efficiency and speed, online recruitmentis increasingly being seen as an effective branding and marketing tool Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.