Report summary: on-line recruiting

In the competition to find and hire the best people, online recruiting has emerged as a powerful and strategic tool – and its potential is only beginning to be realized. Companies that understand how to play this game strategically, using the web in alignment with traditional recruiting tools, are winning.

This study by Cambria Consulting, Boston, researches what 140 high-profile companies are doing online in their quest for talented recruits and identifies a set of best practices for web recruiting. The goal of the research is to help Human Resource professionals understand how to utilize this powerful medium to attract and hire the best possible candidates.

Best Practices

The research identified seven features as crucial for high-impact Websites:

  • A site layout that is easy to navigate and provides interesting information regarding corporate culture

  • “Job cart” function allowing candidates to search and apply for multiple openings

  • Resume builders and other supplementary job-search advice

  • Detailed but concise descriptions of career opportunities

  • Graphics that are attractive and easy to read

  • Personal search engines that allow applicants to create personal profiles in the company’s database and later return and update the data

  • Self-assessment quizzes to help steer college graduates towards appealing career paths

Room for Improvement

Several findings from our research suggest immediate “fixes” for common Website pitfalls. Below is a checklist of features that all e-recruiting strategies should include:

  • An easily locatable career section of the corporate Website, preferably accessible from the home page

  • An up-to-date list of job openings

  • Standard, easy-to-read job descriptions that include tasks and skill requirements

  • Easily accessible information about the company

  • An interactive link to an HR contact, not just a phone number or mailing address

  • A clear and concise application process

  • A search engine that enables candidates to target specific interests and preferences

How Companies Were Selected

This survey reviewed 140 corporate sites, selected from:

  • Fortune Magazine’s Top 50 Companies To Work For (Top 50 reviewed)

  • Fortune Magazine’s America’s Most Admired Companies (Top 50 reviewed)

  • Fortune Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies (Top 10 IT firms reviewed)

  • Top Ten Executive Recruiting Companies (based on total placements and revenue)

  • “High-Profile College Recruiting Companies” (based on prior Cambria Consulting college recruiting research – 6 reviewed)

  • Attendees at an August 2000 e-recruiting round table hosted by Gunn Partners

Researchers examined each company’s Website from the perspective of a potential candidate, assessing it against a set of structured criteria (included in data tables that follow). On average, 30 minutes was spent evaluating and collecting data from each site, with the overall evaluation based on ease of navigation, relevant information provided and response tools. Researchers explored the sites as if they were looking and applying for a job.

The study developed specific criteria for assessing corporate career sites and then rated them in a number of categories. Brief summaries of key findings in major categories follow.

Job Description

The Internet offers nearly unlimited space for job postings. The best job descriptions include:

  • A standardized format

  • A top box of basic job requirements followed by details of the company

  • Descriptive job titles

  • Easy to read, well-organized paragraphs of actual tasks and organizational roles required

  • Links to more detailed information about the company

  • Hard and soft skill requirements, with meaningful indications of the levels of experience required

  • A keyword search to aid users in navigating through the job descriptions.

Search Function

The best search functions offer:

  • Three or more categories to narrow a user’s job description searches (e.g., location, job function and a keyword search)

  • A personalized search agent that saves a candidate’s profile and uses this data to alert the candidate to new job openings

  • A job cart allowing users to apply for more than one job at a time

  • A skills assessment tool (either objective or subjective) to facilitate the user’s search among job categories and career preferences.

Resume Pasting

Resume pasting allows an applicant to respond directly to job openings on the corporate page. To assess the usefulness of this option, we looked at the various ways it is being used.

  • Web-savvy companies allow candidates to cut and paste their resume to an application page or offer a hot link to a recruiter’s e-mail address.

  • 86% of companies researched allow for some online response to job descriptions.

  • Several companies require applicants to format their resume in ASCII text, so that it can be scanned into a recruiting database.

  • To reduce the risk of downloading viruses, many companies are utilizing a cut-and-paste option for attaching resumes.

General Application

The general application allows candidates to fill out an online job application directly from the career page. This section frequently asks for basic contact data as well as additional information to supplement an applicant’s resume. This might include preferences such as location, department or salary.

The best pages offer pull-down menus where applicants can supply information about themselves and what they seek in a job without manually filling out the forms.

Respond to Specific Openings

Some Websites allow candidates to respond directly to specific positions either through a link or an e-mail address. To assess this feature, we applied directly to online job openings.

Best Practice sites provide detailed job descriptions, a “job cart” option that allows candidates to apply for more than one position, and the ability to forward job postings to a friend.

Usefulness to Employer

We assessed the effectiveness of the information that companies are gathering on their Websites. The most effective sites:

Overall Ease of Use

We assess Websites on the basis of overall ease of navigation and their attractiveness from the applicant’s perspective. The best sites offered:

  • Strategic search options and pull-down menus

  • Thorough job descriptions

  • “Job cart” to enable candidates to apply for more than one job at a time

  • Self-assessment tools to help candidates decide which jobs to apply for

Linking to External Job Placement Websites

Many companies list their current openings with online career search Websites. We discovered more than 100 of these e-recruiting search engines. For this study we looked at the top five and tried to determine which of our selected companies advertise with them.

The majority (63%) of the corporations studied list jobs with, the largest of the search engines. As a forecast of future trends, Phillip Morris outsources all of its job postings and electronic employment functions to

Of the 140 companies we looked at, 29% use one external job-placement board, 18% use two and 10% use three or more.

Reaching Campuses

Internet recruiting is pivotal to sourcing college hires. Nearly every college campus is hardwired to the Internet, and virtual recruiting enables corporations to reach college campuses without having to send representatives to every school.

There are two effective e-recruiting ways to reach this population. The first is to create a link from the corporate career page to a page specifically aimed at recent graduates. The second is to identify which job placement Websites college students are using and place a company advertisement there.

This study visited the career Web pages of the “top 25” schools, as identified by US News and World Report, and looked at which job search boards are linked to their career pages. Four sites were linked to 50% or more of these leading schools: Job Trak (72%), JobWeb (60%), (60%) and Career Mosaic (52%).

Best-in-class companies are gaining an advantage over their competitors by making highly effective use of e-recruiting to attract job candidates to their career pages and assess their suitability for a variety of positions. However, this is not to imply that e-recruiting is a stand-alone recruiting tool. At best-in-class companies, it is integrated into an overall recruiting and selection strategy which includes, among other things, sophisticated behavioral and skills assessment, interviews by people trained in modern interviewing techniques and additional means of identifying needs and sourcing candidates.

About Cambria Consulting

Since 1985 Cambria Consulting has worked extensively with large organizations to design and implement a wide range of HR processes. These processes range from recruiting and selection to training and development, from performance management to succession planning. For more information about Cambria Consulting, go to

Comments are closed.