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Internet Recruiting Better, Cheaper, Faster

Internet recruiting isn't just convenient, it's essential; 96 percent of all job seekers use the Internet.

June 20, 2002
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Five years ago, online recruiting was only good for filling specialized technical positions. Today it's an integral part of the recruiting strategy for companies of all sizes and many industries. It's a fast, convenient way to find potential candidates, and it's cheaper than using newspaper ads or employment agencies. And because there are no space constraints, Web want ads can be any length, giving even the smallest companies the opportunity to craft clever ads that will capture the interest of prospective candidates.

"Online job postings should be tailored to entice applicants," says Barbara Ling, president of Rise Internet Recruiting Services, an e-recruiting strategies firm in Holmdel, New Jersey, and author of The Internet Recruiting Edge and Poor Richard's Internet Recruiting. "You should include testimonials from employees, benefits information, and what's great about the company, as well as detailed information about the job and your expectations." Online job ads also allow an employer to link the ad back to its Web site, so candidates can get further information about the company with the click of a mouse.

All of this works together to vastly improve a company's visibility to the right people and gives them more value for their recruiting dollar. "Posting ads online brands your company," says Marcel Legrand, senior vice president of products for Monster.com. "It puts your name in front of people who you want working for you."

And as more and more people take to the Web -- 94 million at the last U.S. census -- recruiters are just as likely to find sales or administrative candidates online as they are to find programmers, Legrand says. According to a Search Tactics Poll from the Society for Human Resource Management, 96 percent of all job seekers use the Internet, making it their most commonly used search tactic, whereas 88 percent of recruiters use the Internet to get the word out about new positions.

But it's not as simple as just posting an ad on a Web site and waiting for the flood of applications to come in, warns Ling. "Internet recruiting is only as successful as the quality of the information you put out there." The biggest problem is getting recruiters out of the "shrunken want ad mentality." Accustomed to the limitations of newspaper ads, they continue to use cryptic abbreviations and limit the job description to education and experience requirements. "They can write as much as they want, but they don't include anything to make the job appealing," she says.

As an example, Ling points to this ad for a Unix Solaris Administrator found at a job board online:

Unix Solaris Admin/Windows 2000

Exciting opporunity on ground floor project for telecom/internet venture - local candidates only at this time. ***Might also consider subcontract if candidate has over 6 years of Solaris admin exp. *** Solaris Unix Solaris SystemsAdmin. MUST have Windows 2000 Admin experience. MUST have at least 3-4 years plus of System Admin experience. MUSThave at least 3 solid years of Solaris exp. Looking for someone who has solid experience working with data storageand how it works in enterprise systems. (looking for experience like RAID) Also must have: Windows 2000 and lookingfor someone with specific Cisco switches and routers (5500 and 6500 series).

It is poorly written, uses unnecessary abbreviations, and has no information about the company or the expectations of the position, Ling says. "It has no details, no 'what's in it for me.'"

To get qualified candidates to respond to a posting, they first have to find the job, and then get excited about it, she says. "Even in today's market, people are still looking out for number one."

An ad that will get a lot of responses includes compelling key words in the title or body, such as "great," "best," or "exciting," and describes what's interesting about the position. It uses full sentences, it's reader-friendly, and it appeals to the applicant's ambitions.

The following ad for a salesperson, for example, came up on Monster.com from a search for "dream job."

Work for the World's Best Boss...YOU!

Now you can be in business for yourself, have your own office, schedule your own time, and advance to management within ayear. Add to that a six-figure income in the second year...and you have the dream career your talents deserve.

We have over 140 offices nationally with over 60,000 clients. Currently our office in Tampa seeks entrepreneurial, successdriven professionals who will welcome the independence and advantages of being a sales professional. You must have theinterpersonal/communication skills and highly professional image to promote our indispensable services to the business andmedical communities.

We offer:

  • Excellent Commissions
  • Proven Repeat Business
  • Outstanding Training
  • No Travel, Nights or Weekends

"This is the kind of ad that gets people's attention," Ling says.

However, even the best-written ads on their own are not enough. You can't stop at putting up the ad. The best recruiters actively hunt for résumés in job board databases and at trade association sites, and they use automated agents to comb the Web for prospects. Most recruiters do daily searches online for potential applicants, often further networking with them for names of other possible prospects.

"Searching for candidates takes skill. You have to know what to look for and how to do it," Ling says. She teaches clients how to do Boolean queries -- such as "title:résumé* UNIX" along with a state or area code -- to unearth the personal Web sites of qualified professionals in their area.

Even if you don't know advanced search techniques, the Web is a valuable and inexpensive resource for even the smallest company. The experts agree that whether you are just posting an ad at your corporate site or scouring the Web for passive job seekers, recruiting online saves money. It costs half as much or less than a Sunday newspaper job posting and pennies compared to using an employment agency. And in a time when every warm body is expected to contribute to the bottom line, recruiters can't afford to miss out on the wealth of talent that the Internet has to offer.

Workforce, December 2001, pp. 74-77 -- Subscribe Now!

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