E-recruitment beneficial for jobseekers, employers

Rising trend of online job search signals need for organizations and candidates to maximize Web technologies to improve search for the right person for the right job.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

With recruitment activities extending to the Web, both jobseekers and employers should attain the necessary know-how to effectively utilize online tools to aid the overall process of finding the right talent and the right job, human resource (HR) professionals say.

David Ang, executive director of Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI), told ZDNet Asia that online technologies have "changed the DNA of recruitment".

He explained that the process of recruiting and attracting talent has transmuted over time. "[Previously,] there was nothing digital. No Internet, no search engines. People wrote in, got a reply and an interview, and that was it," Ang said in a phone interview.

The recruitment industry today is richer and more varied thanks to digital technologies and the Internet, he noted, referring to job-matching portals, e-mail and professional networking sites.

Brian Richards, Singapore head of Kelly IT Resources, also pointed out that job candidates today are more Internet-savvy and comfortable with posting their details online.

He added in an e-mail that there are also more specialized job sites prompting more jobseekers to go online to find employment, such as eFinancials for accounting and other financial-related work, and Freelance Zone.

E-recruitment activities are also fuelled by an increase in jobs being advertised online, which Richards attributed to the Internet's ability to provide HR personnel with faster access to candidate profiles and a broader candidate search, as well as lower staff acquisition expenditure.

According to Candy Lewandowski, vice president and global practice lead for recruitment process outsourcing at Kelly OCG (Outsourcing and Consulting Group), organizations are expanding their recruitment strategies to include tech platforms such as online job boards and social media.

Citing statistics from SHRM Research survey, Lewandowski noted that in 2009, 1 out of 4 HR professionals turned to social networking sites to look up candidates, compared to only 3 percent in 2008.

Online jobs portal Jobscentral.com.sg, for instance, boasts a database of over 30,000 employers who post their ads on the site every year. According to its CEO, Lim Der Shing, online recruitment ads have been growing steadily over the last 10 years, driven mostly by revenue being moved from print to online.

Richards added that Internet postings involve lower cost.

Lewandowski further elaborated that technology has "leveled the playing field" in the job market for companies with both large and small recruitment budgets. Organizations with lesser resources can turn to online platforms such as blogs to communicate their company's job openings more easily at a much lower or even no cost.

SHRI's Ang highlighted the cost-effectiveness of posting jobs ads online, noting that it is faster and cheaper compared to a newspaper ad which is more expensive and has a limited space.

Recruiters can do much more on an online platform such as inserting hyperlinks and graphics, and providing more company information, he said.

Online boost to recruitment
To better leverage and gain from digital recruitment platforms, Ang stressed that both employers and jobseekers need to be adept at understanding the advertising and application process. They should be knowledgeable about the potential of digital technology which can be deployed to attract and find the right talent, he added.

For HR managers, this can range from posting comprehensible, informative ads at relevant sites to "quickly get the attention" of prospective candidates, to having the appropriate software to handle the massive volume of submissions such as candidate-matching or filtering tools, he explained.

Similarly, jobseekers should also know "how to stand out" from the rest of the online applicants, Ang described, such as using specific keywords indicated in recruitment advertisements that will be picked up the employers' screening systems.

However, he noted that while there are perks to having digital tools, organizations and jobseekers should not lose sight of the fact that recruitment is still about "finding the right person for the right job".

Lewandowski said: "The talent is out there, but it's important to know where to look, and crucially, know who you're looking for so the proper recruitment strategy is built, leveraged and deployed."

She added: "No one method to attract or hire candidates should be used exclusively."

She advised organizations to have a thorough understanding of all resources and tools, be it newspapers, social media, job fairs or cold-calling, available to recruiters today. These should then be assessed and properly deployed within the recruitment strategy, she added.

Richards also noted that while more recruitment activities are moving online, traditional platforms such as newspapers are unlikely to be obsolete. Rather, they will play "a more supportive, complimentary role to online media", he said.

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