Online Recruitment

What are the advantages and disadvantages of recruiting on the Internet?

Companies are changing their recruiting paradigms to "sell" to an incredibly tightened job market (rather than expecting candidates to come to them). One way to sell themselves to the market is through Internet ads. Internet recruiting is one of the cheapest and most effective forms of recruitment.

Recent polls show that up to 95 percent of U.S. employers are going online to recruit job candidates. So we've all pretty much wet our feet already. Half a billion dollars will be spent in the next few years as companies invest in building and upgrading their own Web sites and posting positions with job search services. Online recruiting is far less expensive and easier to manage than its print ad counterparts, and the turnaround time could be almost immediate if you or your staff are available to monitor incoming resumes. Indeed, with 30,000 job boards worldwide and 2.5 million resumes online, it's hard to dispute the fact that virtual recruitment will lead the way in this century as the job-searching method of choice.

However, there could be serious limitations for companies that rely only on this means of recruitment:

- Women and minorities may not have equal access to Internet resources; as a result, your diversity recruitment efforts may be curtailed.

- New companies offering software solutions pop up all the time; however, many of their products may still be in beta version, and those companies may not be around in the future to support their products.

- A lack of systems integration between your company's HRIS system and your recruitment software may increase the difficulty in coordinating recruitment activities and tracking results.

- Breaches of privacy may occur due to resume sharing by companies and headhunters once resumes are posted on the Internet.

- Increased quantity may not translate into better quality; shotgun, easy-access resume posting opportunities for candidates may increase the amount of time your company will need to spend in the screening and selection process.

Tell Me More

Raising these issues certainly is not meant to downplay the importance of the Internet's increasing role in your organization's recruitment efforts. However, the Web, the various Usenet sites, and your company's Web site shouldn't be the only outreach efforts that you make. Instead, the Web needs to be integrated into your company's overall recruitment strategy.

For example, according to the National Institute of Business Management's Success in Recruiting and Retaining newsletter, some job search Web databases admit that 75 percent of the hits they receive are from males.[1] Furthermore, until just a few years ago, the demographic of the average Web surfer was a young, white, college-educated male. As a result, relying on the Internet as an exclusive hiring source could limit your diversity recruitment outreach efforts.

Could recruiting on the Internet help you with your diversity outreach efforts? Sure, but only if you target those Web sites dedicated to reaching minority and female populations. In addition, you can post on a general job board established by the Department of Labor to remain compliant with the EEOC. That board is called America's Job Bank and is located at

Most EEO auditors will expect that you post jobs internally and that you advertise in traditional print classifieds so that the widest population of potential applicants is reached. Your search shouldn't preclude those without home computers or other access to the Internet.

System compatibility problems will remain as software platforms and Internet solutions continuously reinvent themselves to add greater features and functionality. Software companies tend to overpromise full integration with little effort. System conversions are often not completed by preset deadlines, and bugs and systems quirks make it difficult for software products to integrate with your internal HRIS system. Expect, therefore, to run either a separate system for recruitment or an integrated system that may have difficulty capturing all submitted resumes.

There are some fairly new Internet recruiting resources that tout themselves as personality-based placement services by offering personality assessment tools online. Such added screening mechanisms could certainly help if the questions in their assessment tools are well thought out.

Internet recruitment is limited not only by legal issues (in terms of restricting your affirmative action outreach efforts or discriminating against certain protected classes via invalidated online personality tests) and practical problems (vis-à-vis integrating incoming resumes into your company's HRIS system); there can also be ethical issues. Specifically, job candidates complain about loss of privacy, fear of technology invading their lives, and a feeling of being overwhelmed by technological changes. As a result, maintaining traditional recruitment programs such as internal referrals and classified ads in print media will make sense even if you pride yourself as being on the ''leading edge'' of electronic recruiting.

  • [1] Reprinted with permission from Success in Recruiting and Retaining. Copyright © 2000 The National Institute of Business Management, McLean, Va., (800) 543-2049.
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