There has been a 60 per cent increase in the number of companies recruiting secretarial and administrative staff online over the last year.
Research by consultancy Mercer reveals that so far this year almost two-thirds of employers advertised these jobs via the net compared to 38 per cent in 2001.
Ninety per cent of those using this method report it is an effective medium for recruitment.
David Wreford, European principal at Mercer, said: "More companies are now using the internet as a recruitment tool - it is quick, cost-effective, and applicants are more likely to be web-literate."
Other popular recruitment methods include temp-to-perm appointments, adopted by 95 per cent of respondents, and employee referrals, used by eight in 10 companies.
The survey of 34 major organisations and 13,000 job-holders, forecasts that average salary increases for secretarial and administrative staff will fallto 3.7 per cent in 2003 from4.1 per cent this year.
It suggests more companies are basing pay rises on individual performances, with eight in 10 employers linking pay rises to performance this year, compared with six in 10 last year.
Wreford added: "In economically tough times, companies need to ensure they get the best value for money from their employment costs. Using individual performance as the basis for pay rises helps to motivate staff and encourage a high-performance culture."
The study shows the average salary for a secretary in London and the South East is £19,175, £16,025 in the Midlands and South West, and £14,105 in the North of England and Scotland.
Almost half the companies surveyed now have a policy of allowing eligible employees to work reduced hours, whereas only one-fifth offered this opportunity five years ago.
By Ben Willmott