Netting talent

8.57am. Do you know where your best people are? There is a chance that a new
breed of manager might be using the Net to track them down. Nic Paton reports  

it comes to job titles, the Internet has proved itself nothing if not innovative.
Web weavers, Internet presence crusaders, chief evangelists, cyberdog engineers
– they have all come, and some have gone, alongside the dotcom boom to bust. HR
too, has spawned a new wave of Internet titles, from web miners to talent
managers, as e-recruitment techniques have helped to change the relationship
between employers and recruiters.

surveys published in May show how far the Internet has taken off in
recruitment. The CIPD’s fifth annual recruitment survey found that more than 50
per cent of employers go online to recruit potential candidates. And a study by
recruitment website found two-fifths of firms polled expected to
increase the online recruitment budget within 12 months.

managers – also known as talent acquisition managers, talent directors, people
effectiveness managers or reward, resourcing and retention managers – can play
a key role. By using the Internet to work more strategically, gather
intelligence on their sector and build contacts, they can ensure the best
people are brought in or retained.

idea of talent management is not new in itself. The phrase first emerged in the
US in 1950s’ Hollywood. Talent managers have always been professionals who
nurture and counsel talented individuals in the entertainment industry, acting
as a go-between in the dealings of agents, publicists, managers and lawyers.

the Internet boom took off, the concept was embraced by HR professionals, led
by dotcoms and technology firms in Silicon Valley to improve efficiency and save
time and money. It has gradually moved into other sectors, with many blue-chip
corporations developing or importing sophisticated e-recruitment and talent
management functions.

its most basic, e-recruitment can simply mean posting an e-mail address or
conventional contact details for the HR department on the corporate website. A
step up from this is the advertising of jobs on the corporate site or on a
recruitment agency’s job board and letting candidates apply either
conventionally or online. BA, for instance, used its online recruitment
function to attract more blue-collar workers and hired 150 customer service
agents in the three months after the site launched last year.

have been developed to screen candidates online for suitability before interview.
There have also been improvements in methods to sift applications – as the
quantity of responses rather than the quality can be an issue in a market as
large as the Internet. Selected candidates may be interviewed by an external
agency before being invited to see the company.

too are moving on from simply putting their CVs online and will often post
personal profiles. These can include discussion of their skills, aspirations
and career goals, and even video links.

Nortel Networks, 95 per cent of CVs are received electronically, with the
turnaround from receiving the application to interview now counted in hours
rather than days.

such as Deutsche Bank, have used online recruitment to boost their graduate
intake, which has risen 2 per cent at the bank since the introduction of online
recruitment last September.

business UCI has cut its hiring cost per trainee manager by £1,060 – a 66 per
cent fall – by using online recruitment. The firm’s online application form
even includes a behavioural questionnaire, covering core competencies.

companies, meanwhile, are "mining" the Internet using technology
specialists called "web spiders" or "e-cruisers" to search
for passive candidates. It is at this more proactive level, akin to
headhunting, that talent managers come into their own, driving businesses to
their talent pools – such as a relevant discussion room – rather than waiting
for them to come forward, says Robert Drake, director of operations at
e-recruiter Blue Boulder.

managers get involved much earlier in the recruitment process. They know what
is going on in the marketplace," he says.

like if you went to New York and wanted to find a policeman, where would you go
– Dunkin’ Donuts? It is a completely different mindset."

management also has an important role to play in managing the retention and
recruitment of board-level staff, says Tom Barnes, co-founder of online
executive recruitment agency

candidates do not have a record of applying to recruitment agents because it is
seen as cheapening themselves. It is about gaining the confidence of the
candidate and gaining the respect of the client," he says

holy grail of being a successful talent manager, according to Kevin Mannion,
chief operating officer of e-procurement company Netengines, is being able to
hire the right person before your bosses realise they need them. "Talent
managers are building ahead of the need," he says.

function depends largely on building internal data sources, employee resources
and electronic links to suppliers and other contacts. "It is about
bringing efficiencies of supply rather than turning into a private
investigator, and going out to chat with people in coffee bars," Mannion says.

do not necessarily think there has to be someone called a talent manager, but
it is about building the principle, about applying the strategy to your staff."

use of the Internet has become one of the key tools in this process, says
Christopher Lloyd, channel head of jobs.telegraph, the recruitment site for The
Daily Telegraph.

Web has enabled far greater access to both individuals and organisations than
before. Internal HR functions are dipping their toes into the arena of search
and selection. It is the equivalent of the internal headhunter."

the US economic downturn could yet skew the picture. As Andrew O’Driscoll,
director of product management at San Francisco-based software solutions firm
OneChannel, puts it, "No one is hiring. Companies don’t officially say it,
but there are a lot with a hiring freeze in place. How times change. Arguably
some of the softer jobs, such as marketing and sales, have been hit the hardest
– those jobs are always first to go."

slowdown is now being firmly felt on this side of the Atlantic. As firms brace
themselves for the predicted recession and step up redundancies, the notion of
being able to use e-recruitment technologies to hire and retain the best people
more efficiently and cheaply is increasingly attractive.

while the downturn means there may be a greater pool of talent, it may not be
the right talent, says Maurice Duffy, chief executive of e-recruiter
mkworldwide. The talent manager will be in the pivotal position of tracking
those in the market, snapping up appropriate talent and, critically, ensuring
internal talent stays on board.

lot of organisations are taking blunt knives to their businesses at the moment,
but you have to ensure you are not getting rid of people who have skills you
may need in the future," he says.

you go back six months, it was how you managed them in, now it is how you
manage them out and get the mix right."

just as HR is becoming aware of the existence of talent managers, the slowdown
might see them, if not their function, disappearing altogether.

Sellers, director of HR consultancy Courtenay, says demand for talent manager
positions has dropped by 50 per cent this year. Businesses are instead hiring
into compensation, benefit and reward positions and resource management
positions, where there has been a 20 to 25 per cent increase on last year.

says, "Last year talent managers were what everyone wanted – someone who
made the strategic decision about how recruitment was done. It was a vogue, a
lot of candidates saw it as a sexy job.

the talent management role has been a bit of a five-minute wonder. This year
the market has not been there for them. People have gone back into more
conventional management or education-focused roles. The climate last year was
much more about growth in a tight recruitment market. This year it is not so
much of a problem, although there are still pockets of shortages."

has changed, probably permanently, she says, is the recognition by boards that
talent has to be managed, that people have to be attracted to a company,
inspired to stay and develop and that holding on to them is critical to future
growth and success.

talent has come in the past two years and that is going to stay. I do not think
there has been a decline in people wanting strategic HR people, but we have
seen a decline in positions that are about managing talent. There was a huge
hype. There is now a quieter revolution going on in HR," she says.

Cisco Systems

enters new era

recruitment is set to give way to a new generation of "web-enabled"
recruitment processes, according to US computer network equipment manufacturer
Cisco Systems.

freezing recruitment for the next six to eight months – the result of the economic
downturn that also saw the company announce an 86 per cent drop in fourth
quarter profits last month – Cisco is pressing ahead with an innovative
resource management system.

EMEA employment manager Adrian Godfrey, who manages a team of 24, says when the
"all-singing, all-dancing" portal launches in January it will offer
online recruitment and assessment, career development, e-learning and a
fast-track management programme.

of the things we want is not just to be putting a job up there. We will own
everything from recruitment to outplacement," he says.

the height of the Internet boom, Cisco was hiring about 700 people a quarter,
averaging a cost per hire of $5,000 (£3,500). The current recruitment freeze
has allowed the firm to take a step back, examine its processes and look at how
it can retain and develop the talent it has.

says, "Cost is not the only motivator. It is about assessing and
pre-qualifying people a lot more quickly. It is difficult to put a price on it,
but, yes, we will save money.

is about matching yourself online. You identify a job, put in your skills and
profile. It says, ‘you are 45 per cent suitable for this job, do you want to
continue?’, then it can give a training analysis and link you to the e-learning

will remain face-to-face, but both sides will be more aware of how suitable a
candidate is beforehand.

will stop using the term recruitment and start talking about people mobility
and development," Godfrey says.

Cadbury Schweppes

giant slashes hiring costs with Web initiative

Schweppes’ successful US e-recruitment initiative was extended to the UK on 1

global drinks company launched its e-recruitment function in the US last year.
Initially, it developed a simple website with information on the company and
its brands. This was later expanded, with online job vacancy and application
facilities. As a result, costs per hire were slashed by more than 50 per cent.

UK system is called Webhire. Candidates can download application forms from the
corporate web site and e-mail them direct to the company. They will receive an
e-mail reply on receipt.

May the company updated its corporate website to give more information on the
company and recruitment contacts. Some jobs were also posted on the Stepstone
e-recruitment site.

have 36,000 staff, with about 1,000 managerial opportunities coming up in a
year, a significant number of which are filled internally," says global
resourcing manager Laurie Zeleny. "So having a large e-recruitment budget
doesn’t make much sense."

do not want to manage people through a computer, we are very much a ‘personal
touch’ company. But we also want to look at how we attract, recruit, develop,
retain and optimise talent.

will be looking for more efficiencies on cost per hire and will be encouraging
talent-sharing between our different UK businesses," she adds.

targets have been been set for the number of applications the company expects
to receive online. The success of the pilot will be assessed early next year.

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