November 15, 2003   view past issues

Our newsletter is
brought to you by

Feature: The Best Practices in Online Recruitment

Since 1996, we at WEDDLE’s have been surveying job seekers and recruiters at our Web-site. We’ve asked them what they do online, what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly, what works best. By now, we have several hundred thousand data elements, enabling us to look at both what’s happening right now and at the trends over time. Here’s our latest assessment.

Overall Grade

The Internet grew up as a recruiting medium during the go-go days of the dot-com era. As a consequence, the sourcing methods that emerged were geared toward winning the War for Any Talent-the search for any qualified person with a pulse, which developed during that overheated time. Today, however, we are facing a very different environment, one in which much slower economic growth has produced an altogether new challenge, one that I call the War for the Best Talent. That’s a shift of tectonic proportions, and yet, recruiters still report that they are happy with the Web as a recruitment resource. Indeed, 74.5% of our respondents rated the Internet as very helpful and another 20% rated it moderately helpful.

What tools and techniques are they using to produce such high levels of satisfaction?

The Most Frequently Used Online Recruitment Methods

The most popular methods of online recruitment-identified by over 75% of our respondents-were (in rank order, beginning with the most popular):

  • Posting job ads at for-fee recruitment sites
  • Searching the resume database at for-fee recruitment sites
  • Using their own corporate Web-site to post job ads
  • Posting job ads at free recruitment sites
  • Searching for resumes in the database at free recruitment sites
  • The Least Used Online Recruitment Methods

    The least popular techniques are listed below (in rank order, beginning with the least popular). This assessment is not surprising as these tools are most effective when used to increase the quantity of candidates, rather than their quality. In other words, they are most effective in a War for Any Talent rather than in a War for the Best Talent.

  • Using a resume distribution service
  • Spidering resumes from the Web at large
  • Posting job ads to the Usenet
  • Searching the Usenet for resumes
  • Manual datamining to search the Web at large for resumes
  • The Most Helpful Methods of Online Recruitment-The Best Practices

    Respondents identified the following methods as most helpful (in rank order beginning with the best):

  • Posting job ads at for-fee recruitment sites
  • Searching the resume database at for-fee recruitment sites
  • Using their own corporate Web-site to post job ads
  • Posting job ads on search engine sites
  • Posting job ads on association sites
  • Posting job ads on for-fee recruitment sites has held the #1 position in our survey since 2000. Searching the resume database at for-fee sites and Using their own corporate site to post job ads held the same positions (the #2 and #3 positions, respectively) last year, as well. This is the first time that Posting job ads on search engine sites and Posting job ads at association sites have made it into the top five methods cited by recruiters.

    What might these findings be telling us? Posting job ads on for-fee recruitment sites was the only method identified by more than half of all respondents. I think that speaks to the growing sophistication of recruiters in selecting the best site for each of their requirements. In addition, all five of these Best Practices require a financial investment. In other words, there is no free lunch in the War for the Best Talent, and that’s the case we need to make to those who control the budgets in our organizations. Finally, the rise of association sites into the top five suggests the growing importance of niche sites that specialize in specific kinds of talent. The big, general purpose sites will always be useful resources, but it’s the ability to find and use niche sites that differentiates the average recruiter from the expert.

    The Least Helpful Methods of Online Recruitment-The Worst Practices

    Recruiters told us that the following were the least effective online recruitment methods (in rank order, beginning with the worst):

  • Searching the Usenet for resumes
  • Using a resume distribution service
  • Posting job ads to the Usenet
  • Spidering resumes from the Web at large
  • Searching the resume database at free recruitment sites.
  • Four of these five methods have to do with resumes. What’s that all about? Some would say it’s indicative of the age-old problem with resumes-they are not all that informative. While that may be true, I think something else is at work here. As I see it, the real reason that resume methods are viewed as less helpful has more to do with the quality of the candidates who have a resume than it does with the resume, itself.

    We’re in a War for the Best Talent, and the person who is least likely to have a resume is the A and B level performer we all want to recruit. They are almost always employed and seldom look for a job; therefore, they almost never have a resume, and looking for resumes on the Web won’t help you find them. Does that mean that sourcing candidates who have a resume will always produce lower quality talent? Of course not. What it does suggest, however, is that when we make decisions about where best to invest our limited time and effort, the activities that are least likely to yield a satisfactory return are those that deal with looking for resumes online.

    NOTE I hope you’re finding my newsletter to be an interesting and useful publication. I try to ensure that each issue offers both an uncommon slant on the challenges facing recruiters and HR professionals and genuine “take home value” that you can put to work on-the-job right way. If that approach works for you, please tell your friends and colleagues about the newsletter and encourage them to sign up.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Global Insight has issued a report on which career fields will be growing and which will be shrinking in 2004. Amidst all the numbers, there’s a startling conclusion: the field of employment services will grow more than almost another other occupation. That’s right; according to the report, the demand for recruiters will exceed the demand for wholesale trade, construction, and accommodation and food services workers combined! If the numbers are right, employers will hire 511,000 recruiters next year, and that can mean a lot of good things like more career advancement opportunities and even a pay raise. What’s the downside? If you recruit in any of the following fields, you might want to consider switching specialties: they are among those projected to decline in 2004:

  • food manufacturing
  • printing and related support activities
  • textile mills
  • motor vehicle and parts retailers
  • apparel manufacturing
  • And, there’s more good news. The Society for Human Resource Management and Mercer Human Resource Consulting have announced the results of a survey that found pay for HR professionals on the rise in 2003. Here are some of the highlights:

  • HR specialist (+12.3%)
  • Organizational development/training manager (+10.9%)
  • Security specialist (+10.7%)
  • Senior HR generalist (+7.3%)
  • Compensation Manager (+7.0%)
  • Given that pay budgets in the last couple of years have increased an average of just 3.6%, these numbers-while never enough-look pretty good.

    Lots has been written about the expected migration of employees as soon as the economy gains real momentum. Surveys have projected that as many as 40% of all workers will look for a new or better job the minute they feel it’s safe to do so. Well, here’s a report that suggests the migration may well also occur in the opposite direction. According to John J. Davis & Associates, a New York search firm, many CEOs are unhappy with the performance of their CIOs and will let them go as soon as business starts to pick up. You have to wonder about the logic of that strategy, however; demand will rise with the upturn in business and that will make replacing senior IT executives all the more difficult … but hey, no one ever said that CEOs were masters of talent management.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. If you were looking for a packaging specialist for your medical products plant in Mobile, Alabama, where would you likely come up empty?

  • CanMed
  • Composite Can & Tube Institute
  • Association of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters & Laminators
  • Technical Association of the Pulp & Paper Industry
  • 2. If you needed to recruit a tuba player for the state orchestra in Colorado, which of the following sites would leave you breathless in Boulder?

  • HighCountryHelpWanted
  • 3. Need a distribution specialist to oversee product deliveries for your corporate coffee service company in Sacramento, CA? Which of the following sites would leave a bad taste in your mouth?

  • SupplyChainRecruit
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2003 Guides and Directories

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time/consulting jobs: Yes – Part time, Contract

    Distribution of jobs: National: USA

    Fee to post a job: $101-200/posting

    Posting period: 28 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 1,120,000

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates, resume distribution companies

    Top occupations among resumes: Administration, Customer service, Retail clerks

    Other services for employers: Auto notification of resume-job match, Banner advertising, Special area for HR professionals, Status Reports: banners, job postings

    Answers to Site Insite:

    1. CanMed, the site of a Canadian healthcare staffing company

    2., the site of a music festival in California

    3., a recruitment site for labor and delivery nurses