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A Blueprint for Recruiting on the Web
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Gone are the traditional rules of recruiting. Replacing them are strategies and hidden pockets of opportunities for doing global recruiting on the Web. Michael Foster, CEO of AIRS Directory, describes some of them in an excerpt from his book Recruiting on the Web.


Michael Foster
CEO, AIRS Directory

1 A Blueprint for Recruiting on the Web

Recruiting great people has never been more important -- but there's never been a recruiting toolset like the Web. Buried among 2 billion Web pages are more than 40,000 job boards and resume banks, 200 million HTML resumes and home pages, and more than 2 million company Web sites -- along with hundreds of thousands of colleges, professional organizations, user groups, news and trade publications, and forums and other communities based on skills, industry, and other business connectors.

The 350 million people on the Internet today are scattered through-out those pages: looking for jobs, reading the news, playing games, discussing their projects, learning new skills, working, playing, and collaborating at all hours of the day. It's a recruiter's dream and a time management nightmare.

To complicate matters further, for almost a decade now vendors everywhere have been scurrying to build better mousetraps for attracting, evaluating, and hiring candidates. So, besides 40,000 job boards, we now have thousands of Internet ad agencies, job posting companies, Web-based employee referral systems, corporate alumni centers, search engines, meta-search engines, and spiders that find candidates, as well as several hundred applicant-tracking systems with screening and assessment options.

In 2000, Forrester Research and other analysts predicted that proprietary end-to-end recruiting systems would soon emerge to make order out of the chaos and save the day. But in 2001, the floor fell out of the market, the big contenders flamed out, and the one-stop Web recruiting business plans joined the other walking dead of the Internet.

We're left with a complicated, balkanized marketplace, filled with solutions that promise to be a global e-recruiting answer but only solve their own sliver of the puzzle. The experts, analysts, and consultants haven't helped much either. They're like the Indian parable of the three blind men and the elephant: one feels the tusk, one the foot, and one the tail. The man who feels the tusk is sure the elephant is a ploughshare. The one who feels the foot is sure the elephant is a tree, and the one who feels the tail insists that the elephant is a brush. The big thinkers that big corporations tend to look to in times of big change just haven't been able to see the whole elephant, either.

So, for the foreseeable future, the 2 billion Web pages, tens of millions of candidates, and thousands of Web-based recruiting vendors will remain a swirling soup. The promise of the Web is better, faster, cheaper recruiting. But how do you organize this confusing jumble to bring you higher-quality candidates, in less time, for less money?

First you need a clear understanding of the traditional recruitment process and the new options enabled by the Web -- then you need a plan. In this chapter, we'll look at a blueprint for e-recruiting that transforms the important milestones along the old recruiting path into a new, sequential plan for recruiting on the Web. There are five stages to this new process:

  1. Recruit Your Friends: Build employee referral and corporate alumni systems.
  2. Create or Enhance Your Organization's Recruiting Web Site:

    Build and drive traffic to your own Web site -- and build communities of candidates for just-in-time recruiting.

  3. Attract the Best Active Candidates: Advertise to job seekers in career hubs, niche boards, and communities.
  4. Find Passive Candidates: Use active search techniques to find candidates hidden inside companies, colleges, organizations, and other destinations.
  5. Assess Your Applicants: Screen, test, and evaluate your pipeline with new Web-based tools.

At each stage there are opportunities to save money and time and to target better candidates by using the Web. Lets take a brief look at each in turn, and then at some ways to prepare the ground for a successful recruitment plan.

First: Recruit Your Friends

HR executives and recruitment professionals agree that an employee referral program is the best way to hire the best people. Yet most companies are more adept at managing search firms that charge 30 percent of the first year's salary than at administering programs that encourage employees to recruit their friends at a fraction of that cost.

At the same time, most companies have legions of ex-workers in the marketplace. Some have been recruited to companies that are potential customers; some may be working as consultants or have been hired by competitors. Wherever theyve landed, these corporate alumni represent an asset that can be used to grow new business or be re-recruited as boomerang employees.

Your employees and alumni know your company, your culture, and your industry more intimately than anyone. They can sell candidates on your organization better than a third-party headhunter and can become a powerful recruiting force for your firm.

Today, relatively few companies are managing compelling, enterprise-wide employee referral systems. Most referral programs are locally managed, poorly conceived, and weakly promoted. Many are too restrictive, complicated, or stingy to be of much interest to employees. At the same time, they represent another set of forms to route and chase through the HR department, and so administrators tend to neglect, rather than nurture them.

But the Web offers a freeway-building solution. A Web-based referral system can automate the administrative and promotional activities required to run a powerful, company-wide referral system. A Web-based referral system can offer a one-stop, self-service interface, an internal job board; it can provide tracking tools for the employee, announce new programs, and keep all parties up to date.

Corporate alumni platforms are as easy to deploy as employee referral systems -- most are a simple, moderated Web forum or mail list, with a calendar and networking bulletin board.

So, start close to home, with your resources at hand. Referrals and boomerang workers are among the lowest-cost, most reliable hires. Your first e-recruiting investment should be to deploy strong, Web-based employee and alumni referral systems.

Second: Create or Enhance Your Organization's Recruiting Web Site

It costs thousands of dollars for a big Sunday ad in a metropolitan newspaper and thousands more to post a bundle of jobs to the largest boards. But it only costs pennies to post jobs to your own job board.

Investing to build a comprehensive career center and job board on your own corporate site should be your next focus. Do to the monster job boards exactly what they've done to the newspapers: Step in front of their traffic, drive it to your own site, and lower your costs exponentially!

Job board postings and newspaper ads can only sell the job, where-as your own career center sells your company, culture, and opportunities for growth and advancement -- a vision of what it will be like to contribute with a great team of people to grow a great company.

Your Web site has exactly the same reach as any job board: 350 million pairs of eyeballs at desktops all over the world. Until recently, the largest companies were spending millions of dollars every year to post jobs to job boards. Today, many are realizing they can get in front of job seekers and passive candidates where they work and play and attract them to a corporate Web site for a fraction of that cost.

Building your own media platform not only breaks the stranglehold of third-party media, it also increases market awareness and the quality of your candidates. Every kind of jobseeker in the world is surfing the big job boards; theoretically, only people who are interested in your industry, your company, or your opportunities will be visiting your site. This focused audience is self-profiling, and so of higher quality than any you can find at a job board.

Adding a career center to your corporate board takes some time, but very little capital. Most of the effort is in telling the story and organizing the information so that it is attractive and accessible. Job boards have become a low-cost, off-the-shelf commodity, so even this relatively complex component can be integrated very simply.

The cost justification is simple: Every single hire saves you money. Youve saved the $350 job posting fee, the $1,000 newspaper ad, the $2,500 referral fee, or the $20,000 search fee.

But your career center does more than cut posting costs. It provides a focal point for your entire recruiting process, online and off. It is more than a source of candidates, it is your candidate funnel, the entry point to which you drive applicants, screen and assess them, then pass them into a resume bank or fast-track them to a hiring manager for an immediate interview.

To maximize its value, your team must understand where your targeted candidates gather, how to get ads in front of them, and how to attract, engage, profile, and capture them into communities once they arrive.

Community building is a powerful new paradigm that provides the key to a just-in-time supply chain of candidates. It closes the loop and keeps potential candidates close by, so you can tap them as you need them.

This career information center, job board, digital gateway, and community platform should be your second e-recruiting investment. You'll find much more information on these topics in Part II of this book.

Recruiting on the Web
Recruiting on the Web
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