Over the past decade we have seen labour shortages and recruitment difficulties lead to a more competitive job market, meaning that employers are turning to agencies and headhunters to find the talent they need.
This is making recruitment expensive for many organisations – in conflict with the potential constraints placed on organisations by the global credit crunch.
For the public sector, this picture is particularly problematic, as these organisations face increasing demands from government to cut costs, increase efficiency and be transparent in their spending yet they typically conduct 80% of their recruitment via agencies.
Recent research I conducted at Cranfield (in conjunction with Monster.co.uk) suggested that e-recruitment may provide a solution to these issues. Online recruitment may have grown rapidly over the past 10 years, but my experience shows many organisations are still not taking advantage of the full functionality of this technology to attract, sift, manage and respond to applicants.
Only about 5% of public sector recruitment spend is currently online, suggesting that this sector may be missing a trick. Interviews with 24 employers across the public, private and not for profit sectors found that effective use of e-recruitment could provide a wide range of benefits to employers.
Significant cost savings can be achieved through the reduction in agency and advertising fees, less need for paper and postage and a drop in headcount due to administrative savings. E-recruitment can also lead to considerable efficiency savings through the move to a more streamlined process. Vacancies can be posted online immediately and reviewed as they arrive, making the process much faster. This means that the overall time to hire is greatly reduced, so there is less chance of a good candidate being recruited by a competitor before the process is complete.
Not only is the process faster, cheaper and more efficient, but it is also transparent, and the data produced by the system is accurate and readily available. E-recruitment can also be used to ensure that recruitment processes are consistent across an organisation so that everyone is treated the same way regardless of where they have been sourced from.
The benefits of e-recruitment may seem too good to be true. Many employers worry about its capacity to reach the candidates that they need or to a diverse population of candidates. But research shows that people from all industry sectors and at all levels search for jobs online.
Employers will have difficulty attracting high quality jobseekers if they do not take steps to engage with people. Unless they have a prominent brand, employers must drive jobseekers to their corporate websites through the use of jobs boards or search engines. Once they have done this, they must present themselves in a way that will attract the jobseeker, and build a relationship with them so that they want to apply for a role.
This can be done by creating a content-rich website that is interactive and interesting by using functionality such as videos and podcasts to provide information about the company, and by making the site quick and easy to use, so that jobseekers can find the information they want within three or four clicks. Finally, the application process should be as simple and quick as possible.
In the current recruitment climate, employers should consider the introduction of an e-recruitment system as a worthwhile investment. This is particularly true for public sector employers which, despite the increasing financial demands placed on them, have so far lagged behind in their use of technology. But employers must make sure they pay enough attention to the design of their system if the full benefits are to be realised.
By Emma Parry, research fellow, Cranfield School of Management