Sites have designs on winning talent

design has been cited as the most important factor of a successful recruitment
site in extensive research carried out in the US by Boston-based Cambrian
Consulting, which sets out to identify best practice in e-recruiting, writes
Sue Weekes.

Winning the War
for Talent: e-Recruiting best practice
reports that around 20 per cent of
the 140 sites it surveyed were easy to use and predicted they would generate
more return visits and, in the long-term, a higher candidate to visitor ratio than
the less well-designed sites.

“We were very surprised at the
number of sites that simply made it difficult for eligible candidates to find
and navigate a site,” says Bernard J Cullen, a partner at Cambrian. Among those
corporates whose sites applauded in the report are Cisco and Hewlett-Packard,
which are using e-recruiting to drive the redesign of existing HR practices.

Cambrian, which specialises in
human resource management and organisation development, put together a sample
of 140 corporate sites, basing some of its selection on Fortune Magazine’s Top
50 Companies to Work For, America’s Most Admired Companies and its list of
fastest growing companies.

As well as examining best
practices, it also set out to gauge the reactions of candidates to recruiting
Web sites. It evaluated the sites from a candidate’s perspective and, if
possible, completed the entire application process.

“On the whole, we found few
breakthroughs or potential breakthroughs to major recruiting issues,” comments
Cullen. “This lack of progress underscores both the difficulties and untapped
potential of developing standard frameworks for HR processes.”

Overall, findings showed that
20 percent of the sites contribute significant value to their company’s
existing recruiting practices and while a further 60 percent added value, they
don’t form part of an integrated recruitment and hiring process. The remaining
20 percent, says the report, add “marginal value” to company recruitment.

Its assessment showed that
high-impact Web sites have eight key features: a design which emphasises
accessibility, logic, ease of navigation and visual appeal; background
information on the company and work environment; clear, concise and compelling
job descriptions; flexible and easy-to-use mechanisms for sending CVs; a job
basket to enable candidates to apply for more than one job at a time; search
facilities that enable users to carry out fast job searches; the ability to
apply online; and tools to help candidates prepare CVs.

The report also covers common
pitfalls, which include not making your career and job section as obvious as it
could be from the corporate home page and not giving a clickable link for
contacting an HR person or recruiter at the company ( many just have a phone
number or mailing address to reply to that particular vacancy). There was
evidence that sophisticated added features will improve the overall
effectiveness of a site. These include self-assessment tools which provide more
information on a candidate’s abilities, and skills search agents that allow
applicants to create personal profiles so they can be alerted by e-mail when
new and appropriate vacancies come in.

“Few US sites made any attempt
to do online screening of candidates,” adds Cullen, who says that the company
will be extending its research to UK, European and Asian sites in this year’s

recognised that there were some major differences in how companies – even US
companies – designed their UK and European Web sites. Most notably, UK and
European sites are at the forefront of doing online assessment of candidates
which US sites have to be very cautious about,” explains Cullen. “Also the
differences in sites reflect the amount of work that companies need to do to
develop integrated HR practices.

view the final report, click here.

need Adobe Acrobat to view the report. If you do not already have it you can
download it at


most companies see greater value in allowing individual businesses to maintain
their own HR practices. Our view is that in the long-run, integrated global
processes that can accommodate significant local variations will have to be
developed if major companies are going to be competitive and are going to offer
employees maximum career opportunities. HR processes are inherently no
different from accounting, logistics, sales, marketing and R&D.”

Consulting will be conducting an expanded review of e-Recruiting sites in June
2001, expanding the study to include 50 company sites in Europe and Japan.  The study will also review a sample of
general and specialized job boards. The firm  is interested in hearing from anyone with
ideas for the next version of the research. Email

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