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Maximizing your e-recruiting efforts

Not doing much recruiting right now? Then save this article, because as the economy improves you’ll surely want to position your organization to take full advantage of the benefits that Internet recruiting offers.

Surveys show that 96 percent of all job seekers now use the Internet, making it their most commonly used search tactic.

The pluses are many: Posting jobs online can cost less than half as much as Sunday newspaper postings and far less than employment agency fees. Online ads can be longer, more descriptive, written any time of the day or night, and posted almost immediately. For employers, online recruiting allows far better targeting of candidates than does advertising in general newspapers, resulting in a greater percentage of qualified applicants.

In addition, because 24/7 online job hunting is private and convenient, your company’s Internet presence is more likely to draw in “passive job seekers” – high-quality candidates who may be curious to know what’s out there but who have not launched all-out campaigns.

For all its benefits, however, online recruiting is no panacea. Poorly thought out e-recruitment efforts can lead to an avalanche of worthless responses, even legal difficulties.

Creating an e-recruiting strategy

The Internet is just one tool in a complete recruitment strategy. Too many employers assume that simply by posting a few job openings, an ideal number of qualified candidates will respond. Rather, developing a successful e-recruitment initiative depends on doing many things right. Consider:

1. Evaluating objectives. What does your organization expect its e-recruit strategy to achieve? For example, what type of positions do you want to fill? If you’re looking for five software engineers, the Internet is the ticket; if you’re seeking five pipe fitters, e-recruiting is likely to disappoint.

2. Setting a budget and analyzing costs/ benefits. While posting an online opening costs less than advertising in a print medium or engaging a headhunter, don’t make the mistake of assuming online recruiting is “free.” Someone in your organization must be trained to properly e-recruit, and the cost of new tools – for example, software that scans resumes for keywords pertinent to job skills — must be factored in.

3. Leveraging your company website.Your own website is your organization’s best marketing tool and should be the foundation of your e-recruitment strategy. The employment section of your site should list current openings, including minimum requirements; a benefits overview, particularly if you’re offering above-market perks; details about your location; and information about any relocation benefits.

Postings that attract attention

After years of limitations imposed by the print media, many recruiters continue to write ads with cryptic abbreviations and limited job descriptions and requirements. An effective e-recruiter, on the other hand, describes the organization and expectations for the position in detailed, attention-grabbing terms. A good writer puts him/herself in the applicants’ shoes, and ensures that the ad appeals to job seekers’ desire for professional fulfillment, advancement and compensation.

Evaluating, posting on and searching other Internet sites

An estimated 35,000 recruitment-related websites are in use today, with a few sites appearing and vanishing daily. The burden is on you, then, to determine which are likely to be around long enough to produce the results you want.

General recruitment or career hubs such as Monster.com, Hotjobs.com and Careerbuilders.com offer the broadest array of job postings. Many offer free postings on a trial basis, so you can evaluate the results before agreeing to pay for listings. Job seekers, on the other hand, usually enjoy unlimited free access to postings.

Depending on the skill level you’re seeking, posting your positions on well-defined sites – an industry association’s jobs board, for example – should result in a smaller number but greater percentage of qualified candidates.

Technically savvy recruiters also use advanced search capabilities such as Boolean queries to unearth the personal Web sites of qualified professionals in a given field.

Legal considerations

E-recruitment can present legal challenges, particularly for organizations with 50 or more employees that elect to do $50,000 or more in business with the U.S. government. These contractors must prepare and implement an affirmative action plan, which consists partly of various diagnostic analyses of applicant and employee data. Employers must attempt to track how many job applications they received in the last year, and how many applicants were female or members of specific minority groups. Employers also must analyze, of those applicants, how many females and minorities were hired, and generate an “adverse impact analysis” regarding those protected groups.

Because the Internet has made it easier than ever for curious people to “apply” for jobs or send unsolicited resumes, new definitions of the terms “job applicant” and “job solicitation” are being shaped in the courts. Employers are urged to contact their attorneys for advice on such matters.

In general, an employer posting a job opening should make it clear that it is soliciting applications for a specific position. Once the position is filled, the posting should be removed from the site promptly. An employer also should specify that it keeps applications “active” only for a certain period of time (e.g., 30, 60 or 90 days), making it clear when someone ceases to be an “applicant” for a position.

The employment section of your company’s website should be designed so that applicants are invited – on a separate screen — to provide their gender, race and ethnicity. The site’s design should not require them to provide such information in order to complete the application.

And the challenges don’t end there. Software used to scan resumes for keywords relevant to the job skills sought must be chosen and implemented carefully; validation studies must be done to ensure that women and minorities aren’t excluded from the process because they are less likely to use the keywords in their resumes.

The trend is clear: With Internet use expected to rise from 138 million in 2001 to 168 million people in 2005 – or 68 percent of the U.S. population – e-recruiting can only grow in significance. Building a solid e-recruitment strategy will pay dividends, enabling your organization to find qualified people faster and more easily, while bolstering your viability in tough economic times.

© HR Works, Inc.

HR Works, Inc., headquartered at 200 WillowBrook Office Park in Fairport (Rochester), New York, with an office in East Syracuse, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.