What recession?

American firms are still hungry to recruit more staff, despite concerns over
the economy. But as Charlene Solomon reports, they have to be quick to snap up
the best people

as talk in North America turns to concerns about an economic downturn and more
corporate lay-offs, the unemployment rate still hovers around 4.3% (US Bureau
of Labor Statistics, March 2001). Consequently, in the war for talent,
recruiting has taken on the look of slick marketing campaigns, with many
creative companies willing to try just about anything to attract the best
employees and electronic wizardry that rivals anything we have seen before.

firm Icarian, which creates workforce management software and service
solutions, states on its Website: "An organisation can have all the right
ideas and capital in the world, but without the right people to make things
happen, it will fail."

hear this kind of sentiment stated over and over throughout the companies of
North America. And in most cases, it is backed up by action. The better
companies are moving beyond gimmicks and fast fixes to the longer-term
practices that require constant innovation and attention to staff their
organisations. A starting point for most HR people is via on-line recruiting –
now state-of-the-art in its reach. Firms such as monster.com, careermosaic.com
and recruitersonline.com are very active, recruiting both in North America and

more traditional search firms have taken on a new look and recruit globally.
They scour the globe, looking for much-needed talent, helping dozens of
organisations with their recruiting problems. Clearly it’s a crucial need. For
the past ten years, North American industry has been begging for technology and
service sector staff. US colleges and universities can’t keep up with the
demand for computer scientists, systems analysts, programmers and networking
specialists. That is why many companies – large and small – forge ahead with
innovative recruiting practices and look to global headhunting firms for

staffing techniques don’t have to be so far-flung. Many firms have received a
good response from more traditional methods, such as via direct mail to
targeted populations. And the cost is low. Some companies also have
corporate-wide referral programmes that offer bonuses.

York-based global Internet advertising firm DoubleClick finds its largest
source of new hires comes from its own employee base. "We set up a way for
people who want to refer someone to go to the Website and submit the referral
right there. The resume is electronically captured, then sent to an
administrator who is able to distribute it to the appropriate people,"
says Craig Collins, director of recruiting. The system also records the name of
the employee who submitted the referral, because whoever has the most referrals
hired wins a prize. There are East Coast, West Coast and international
quarterly winners, and an annual winner who receives a Harley-Davidson

known for its fast-paced, innovative corporate culture, utilises the more
traditional recruiting methods as well. The firm posts all jobs on the
company’s intranet and on Internet job boards. The company also has a mechanism
to allow a recruiter to click a button and access the vendor manager, who sends
the posting to contingency search firms and other places. The job description
is posted on to a recruitment system that triggers a flurry of postings,
depending where the recruiter wants the listing to appear. Click the box that
indicates Website or intranet or vendor manager, for example, and the postings
are automatically relayed to the target location.

for new sources of employees is another method. Some companies now target the
senior citizen market. Older staff form a reliable, knowledgeable section of
the North American workforce, and are in high demand. Advertising agencies have
been working closely with firms to find the best ways to recruit individuals in
this age bracket, for technical, consulting and professional positions.

are targeting newsletters published in elderly housing complexes, local papers
and local radio programmes. They focus on what seniors are interested in, such
as flexible hours and interesting work. The advertising firms also use basic
methods that can be effective, such as direct mail, cards at shopping areas and
even events such as bingo nights.

even in the worrisome days of a slowing economy, recruiting talent and
retaining key employees are important concerns for HR, and for companies that
want to maintain their productivity and move forward.



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