Firms lack proactive Web recruitment strategies

Companies in Singapore and Malaysia can enhance online recruitment by building up-to-date career portals and proactively communicating with potential jobseekers, reveals new survey.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Organizations in Singapore and Malaysia can do much more to proactively boost their online recruitment strategies to attract the best available talent. Measures include improving their Web sites, tapping social media and ensuring consistent, comprehensive communication with jobseekers, a new survey noted.

Rolf Bezemer, managing director at StepStone Solutions Asean and Australia, revealed that 68 percent of companies surveyed are "not doing well enough in providing sufficient content" on their corporate sites.

Additionally, nearly 7 in 10 companies also did not offer any job search functionality on their Web sites, making it difficult for applicants to search for relevant positions, he added during a media briefing on Monday.

The survey, commissioned by StepStone Solutions, a recruitment software and technologies provider, assessed the overall quality of companies' online recruitment efforts. It was conducted by the Singapore Human Resource Institution (SHRI) in 2010, with three mystery jobseekers polling a total of 50 companies comprising multinational companies (MNCs), small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and government agencies in Singapore and Malaysia.

To improve on their online recruitment efforts, Bezemer urged firms to have "dynamic, interesting and authentic career portals" that provide information on areas such as detailed job descriptions, talent development and recruitment processes. The career section should also be updated on a timely basis to ensure relevant information to attract and recruit candidates, he said.

One-stop point for jobseekers
The Singapore-based Dutch executive said in a separate phone interview with ZDNet Asia that a company's career Web site or portal should be the "consolidated entry point for jobseekers".

An organization may use different sourcing strategies to post jobs such as via social media, online job boards or print ads, but all traffic should be channeled back to the corporate career site. "Everyone who explores your Web page is a potential employee," he pointed out.

Bezemer added that a company's own career site is the ideal marketplace for jobseekers as it can provide the look and feel of the company, through which candidates can get a sense of the firm's corporate identity.

"Don't give your brand identity to a third party vendor [such as a job portal or social networking site]. You should be in charge of it to communicate with candidates and create talent pools for future recruitment," he said.

Avoid "black hole syndrome"
Bezemer also brought up another survey finding that showed not a single company polled followed up with either an acceptance or decline notification, otherwise known as the "black hole syndrome". This leaves candidates not having any sort of closure about their application status, he said.

The executive explained in the interview that it is very important for candidates to have "a good experience of being rejected", and this is to the company's benefit.

"Every engagement with an organization will impact a candidate's perspective of it, and candidates today want to be treated professionally, accurately and be informed by a prospective employer," he elaborated.

This is especially important for business-to-consumer (B2C) firms, where a poor and inconsistent rejection experience could lead to brand damage and loss of potential customers, cautioned Bezemer.

He stressed that companies must make the effort to acknowledge the receipt of a person's application regardless of the amount of resumes coming in. A possible solution could be to implement backend software systems that can generate automated replies to applicants at specified times, the executive suggested.

Be more proactive
Observing a distinction between recruitment practices in Europe and Singapore, Bezemer said that in Singapore, the process is still very much "reactive". This means companies simply posting a job ad and expecting candidates to apply, he explained.

In Europe, however, the process is "far more proactive", he noted.

Companies there would have accumulated and consolidated hundreds of prospective candidates--such as undergraduates, previous unsuccessful applicants, and past employees--in a talent pool or database. They will then continuously monitor, send out and communicate targeted job notifications to corresponding candidates, he said.

European firms' model of building and maintaining a "talent pipeline" is worthy of emulating because recruitment is not just about "the attraction and experience" of candidates but also the communication with active and inactive jobseekers alike, the executive pointed out.

"Job recruitment and advertising has undergone an evolution" over the last 30 years, Bezemer noted. While companies used to print ads in newspapers stating a time period for applications, there is now the Internet with online job boards, social media and a company's own corporate site. And it is the Web is that today's jobseekers are largely flocking to, he added.

Ultimately, if a company does not improve its online recruitment strategies and be more proactive, this inertia could stump its efforts to attract new talent in today's highly competitive job market, Bezemer concluded.

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