08/09/2009

By Torsten Muth, Managing Director of Experteer.co.uk

Over the last few years, there has been a growing desire for online recruitment knowledge from employers looking to “in-source” and reduce spend. And with current unemployment rates at over 2 million and rising, it’s no surprise that candidates are also looking for new and effective ways to search for their next position.

Quality over quantity of applicants is at the core of online recruitment and the shift from print to online recruitment has occurred as businesses, trying to cut costs more than ever at the moment, realise the cost and time benefits of advertising job vacancies online. Online recruitment is the most cost effective way to target a specific group of people, most of whom will only be using the online job board if they are actually looking for a job. While headhunters would traditionally post jobs in a newspaper or magazine without necessarily targeting people that they actually want, online advertising allows them to pinpoint precisely the desired candidates, especially when using a niche jobsite. Newer techniques are also allowing businesses to use complex behavioural targeting methods to ensure that the people viewing the advert are suitable.

Businesses are increasingly looking to save time and, while print is time consuming and involves sifting through job applications to check that the candidate is suitable, online recruitment is a far speedier route to securing the perfect employee. By giving candidates the tools to be more discerning, discriminatory and generally more in control of their own job search, it should follow that fewer poorly targeted applications and CVs are flying around. Digital offers an instant response, with the advert being posted straight away, rather than having to wait until the paper to come out. Even if a recession wasn’t underway, job websites would offer this benefit over print media.

The credit crunch has forced many job seekers online who may not have done so before, particularly those at a senior level. The surplus of demand for jobs over supply of vacancies means that job seekers have to become increasingly savvy when looking for their next position to ensure that they are ahead of the game. Job websites also give candidates the opportunity to see what is available more easily. This includes options that they might not previously have considered, such as overseas positions in regions that have not been so badly affected by economic volatility. Online also provides a better overview of the jobs market in a one-stop shop than print does for job seekers as it combines many more relevant positions in one place.

Recent research from Experteer found that 13% of senior executive job seekers are looking overseas for opportunities as the recession sets in. As candidates look to move overseas, recruitment sites are also becoming increasingly international, meaning that businesses can recruit talent from other countries. Economies of scale are a big advantage for online business models as most parts of the sites can be adapted for use in similar ways internationally. Also, particularly in the current climate, there is an increasingly strong trend of people looking for opportunities overseas. Candidates are beginning to demand international platforms based in their own country, which offer overseas jobs.

Both headhunters and in-house recruiters can also increasingly save money by using social networks, as a new form of online recruitment. For employers, the talent pool is becoming the new focus for all recruitment and, for the job boards, the CV database may become the future. Social networks offer a database of candidates ready to be headhunted, with minimal cost to a business. Whilst the response rate remains lower on these social networks, as not everyone registered on the site will be looking for a new job, such sites are indeed moving from the pure social networking space to a place where candidates can raise their profile and find a new job, and which businesses can make full use of to attract the best employees.

New types of job sites also exist now, which use a different form of revenue model. Experteer.co.uk makes it free for businesses to advertise on the site, gaining their revenue through candidate subscriptions. These niche websites, which allow headhunters to pinpoint exactly the type of candidate they are looking for, could be the ones that may see increasing popularity during the downturn.

Ultimately, web-based recruitment provides a far more flexible option. Having the information that online recruitment systems offer means that businesses can change the strategy that is implemented as they begin to better understand their audience and recruitment needs. Businesses and recruiters should take comments on board, and implement feedback, while continuing to see online recruitment as what it is – a direct route to the best candidates.

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