Online recruitment delivers more applicants and wins vote of most employers

Online recruitment may not produce better quality candidates, but it does deliver more of them and that makes it easier to find the right person for the job, according to a survey by Personnel Today’s sister publication, Employment Review.

Asked to compare online recruitment with other methods, three-quarters (74%) of employers said that online advertising brought in more candidates. One in five (22%) said it made little difference to candidate numbers, while just one in 20 (5%) received fewer applications.

Employers were more evenly divided on the ability of online recruitment methods to attract good candidates. Most (51%) said it was no different to other approaches for quality, with broadly similar numbers reporting better (27%) and worse (22%) candidates.

There was stronger support for the idea that online recruitment made it easier to find the right candidate, with just one in 10 (11%) of employers reporting that it was a worse approach than other methods. There was, however, a fairly even divide between those who argued that online recruitment was better (43%) and those who said it made no difference (46%).

Employers do believe that online recruitment makes their life easier, however. Seven out of 10 (70%) said online recruitment was easier to administer, with a further one in four (23%) claiming it was neither better nor worse than other approaches, and just 8% saying it was worse.

The findings are based on a survey of a panel of HR practitioners in 118 organisations across the private and public sectors, with the organisations together employing more than 570,000 people.

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…but staff selection using online tools remains a minority pursuit

Employers that use online recruitment tools almost invariably use the web to advertise jobs (98%) and provide background information about the organisation and the job itself (both 80%), the Employment Review research shows.

But the use of online methods in the selection process itself is not yet as widespread, and there are distinct differences between organisations in different economic sectors.

The survey found that almost all (95%) of manufacturers that recruit online accept CVs by e-mail. But this is the case for just seven out of 10 (71%) private sector services firms, and only one in five (19%) public sector employers.

One explanation for this is that public sector organisations rely more on application forms than CVs, and this is reflected in the 84% of employers in this sector which use online forms to some extent. Less than half the manufacturers (45%) use online application forms.

Other online selection tools are used only by a minority of employers that recruit online. One in four (25%) uses gateway or screening questions to weed out inappropriate candidates at an early stage, and this is consistent across all sectors.

Psychometric tests are used by about one in five organisations (21%), but are more commonly used by manufacturers (45%) than by public sector bodies (16%) and private sector services firms (14%).

…and some keep online jobs secret

Four out of 10 organisations using online recruitment tools (40%) say they make no special effort to encourage jobseekers to visit their recruitment websites.

The Employment Review survey found that all those that did make some effort to encourage website traffic (60%) promote their website address in print advertisements for vacancies. Most (52%) also provide prominent links from their organisation’s home page to the recruitment site.

Two-thirds of those making some special effort (40% of the total sample) also promote the address of their recruitment website on commercial jobs websites such as Totaljobs and Monster.

Search engine optimisation – a more advanced technique developed in an attempt to ensure that a web page appears high on the first results page of a search engine such as Google – was used by just one in six organisations (17%).

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