Look before you leap into Web recruitment

You can waste lots of time and money if you don't organize your approach to Internet recruiting.
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Look before you leap into Web recruitment
You can waste lots of time and money if you don't organize your approach to Internet recruiting.
By Mary Brandel

June 1999

In this article:
Lessons learned about Internet recruiting
When I was in high school, my parents owned two cars: a station wagon and a stick-shift Plymouth Volare. One afternoon, after just a couple of preliminary lessons on driving a manual gearshift, I decided to take the Volare out solo. I coasted down the driveway, bucked my way up the hill, struggled with the sticky second gear, and prayed that all traffic lights would stay green for me. Somehow I made it to my destination and back, and I don't think I worsened the condition of the car (can anything be worse than a Plymouth Volare?). But I certainly didn't drive it properly or take advantage of the control one gains with a manual shift.

I'm reminded of that afternoon drive when I hear about recruiters jumping into the Internet in a blind search for IT talent. They picture job sites just dripping with prized applicants who can be plucked with no expensive agency fees. (No wonder 59% of companies post jobs electronically, according to the American Management Association in New York City!) And they hear tales of foraging through chat sites to find the most elusive species of all: the passive job candidate.

One company's Web recruitment effort resulted in the firm's 100 recruiters receiving 7,000 resumes in a month.

But once they make the leap, recruiters quickly discover it's not that easy. Job sites attract lots of IT talent--and lots of IT wannabes. Posting a job online attracts lots of responses--even more than you can handle. And you can haunt IT hangouts from dawn until dusk, but it's going to take some training and lots of time before those efforts turn into a hire. The fact is, unless your company has an organized approach to Internet recruiting--and even a dedicated Internet team--you can waste a lot of time and money.

The web of the Web

"A black hole"--that's what Steve Sellers calls the Internet. Sellers is staffing manager at Tellabs Operations Inc., one of the world's top manufacturers of telecommunications equipment in Lisle, Ill. He started playing around with the Internet two years ago. "My primary focus was decreasing time-to-hire, and I thought it might give us more direct candidate sourcing than more traditional means like job fairs and our own internal database," he says.

Very quickly, however, "we became lost in the Internet web," he says. "The more you got in, the more time it required. Sometimes you got lost in there." Sellers quickly realized he needed some direction on how to pull information off the Web in a timely manner, and how to discern which information was valid. "Unless you've got some dedicated people with the power to address those issues, the Internet becomes a big black hole," he says.

Sellers certainly didn't have time to fool around with black holes. Two years ago, Tellabs was hiring people at a rate of 500 employees a year, about 70% of whom were techie types. This year, it plans to hire 1,100 new people, the majority in hardware and software engineering.

So, in addition to building some vendor alliances, Sellers also hired two full-time Internet recruiters. "I have convinced management to invest in the Internet, and so far, they've come up with the money for me to do it."

Fine-tune your strategy

Sellers has taken the most important first step: developing an overall strategy and approach to Internet recruiting. "What is your goal--to save money or find people you wouldn't find otherwise?" says Kevin Wheeler, principal consultant for Global Learning Systems, a recruitment consulting firm in Oakland, Calif. "You really need to narrow that down, and that drives what you do."

For instance, Wheeler says, if you're simply trying to save money on search fees, focus on the job boards such as Careermosaic.com, dice.com, and Monster.com. In addition, make sure your corporate Web page attracts candidates to the recruiting section of the page--perhaps even start a print campaign to draw people there.


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