The future of online recruitment?

There are many ways for talents to join your company. The traditional way: advertise in the newspapers, or in the information age way: go online!

Huang Shao Ning Now that you've got the company started up, the next thing that should be on your agenda is finding talents out there to help turn the dream into reality. There are many ways of doing this. The traditional way: advertise in the newspapers, or in the information age way: go online!
Huang Shao Ning, managing director of, shows ZDNet Asia the insight of online recruitment.

What better way to start a story than with a typical scenario.

John is a recruitment specialist with a local MNC.

Day 1: John posts a job ad on a popular local job site.
Day 2 – 15: John’s Inbox is filled with about 200 resumes from various applicants. Despite the filtering engine that the job site has provided, most of the 200 applications received are not qualified and the resumes lack depth in terms of detailed work experience. After almost two painful weeks of sorting and reviewing, John shortlists 10-15 candidates. He emails them all to verify the information and to schedule interview appointments.

The entire selection process takes two weeks from posting to interview set-up. The online job posting service definitely ends up being a cheaper version of newspaper advertising, and sometimes more work is required than foreseen.

Online recruitment started in the USA and was touted to be a revolutionizing channel for corporate recruitment. The idea was to cut away middlemen like executive search firms and newspapers. However, the common experience today is that there are way too many irrelevant applicants for every online job posted and that the filtering software provided by job sites can only do so much.


The time saved in terms of quicker response via online job sites is offset by the time taken to sort through the resumes and to verify and request for additional information from shortlisted candidates. That is why executive search firms recorded record revenues in the year 2000 in spite of an onslaught of advertising from online recruitment companies that year.

According to Huang Shao-Ning, managing director of, “Online recruitment is a definite cost saver for companies. As to whether it is a time saver, the jury is still out."

However, she believes that a little "offline filtering" in an online recruitment site can help sieve out the unsuitable applicants. JobsFactory does this by employing HR consultants who are also executive search agents. By doing so, they claim to be able to cut down the resume filtering time for their advertisers by almost half. "We can do this because we are both an online as well as traditional recruitment agency with a website. So, we enjoy the higher margins of an executive search firm combined with the mass appeal and low cost structure of an online job site.”

Started in Singapore last April,JobsFactory's Web site is now one of the top five job sites in Singapore with over 500 member companies and over 25,000 local jobseekers in its database.

“We work on the principal that time is money for our clients. As such, we help them phrase the job advertisements, post the job online and filter the subsequent applicants. All this is done for a small additional fee”, said Ms Huang. “On top of that, our employers can choose to tell us what sort of candidates they want and we will help them source from our large database and set up interviews. The cost of this service, which we call candidate delivery, is higher than normal online job postings, but still a fraction of normal executive search charges."

Hybrid recruitment
Would all online sites slowly morph into hybrid models like JobsFactory? And does this mean that online recruitment pureplays are doomed?

“I believe that ultimately we must provide what our customers want. And what employers want is to get the right guy in a reasonable time frame. in the USA combines career fairs and online recruitment in a potent mix. and TMP Worldwide too combines online and offline recruitment in similar manner. So it does appear that a hybrid model is the way to go.“

“I wouldn’t say that online recruitment providers are doomed. JobsFactory online division pays for itself but the margins are slim. Job postings are a commodity which can be replicated by any site with a decent number of jobseekers. The higher margins lie in providing value added services which employers want and any smart business person would go where the money is.”