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Workforce Planning
(June 29, 2005) We thoroughly enjoyed this piece from a South African job board. The firm, CareerJunction. presents an extraordinarily well thought out history of online recruitment from the South African perspective. Take a read and then visit CareerJunction.

There is a lot happening in recruitment these days. Gone is the time when it meant hiring an agency to find and vet people for your company. Recruitment, and specifically online recruitment, has entered the high-tech world with a measured step, drawing on lessons learnt both from other industries as well as internally.

1994 to 1999 the start of online recruitment
The quiet revolution began with the Internet. The advent of international online job boards in 1994 was soon emulated by South African companies which were up and running by 1997. The initial business proposition offered a pool of online careerseeker resumes to be made available, at a fee, to recruitment agencies. Furthermore there was online space to advertise jobs which could then be searched by the candidates. With online recruitment sites being accessed 24x7, suddenly recruitment was no longer bound by office hours.

Online recruitment became a technology facilitator for recruitment agencies, attracting both active and passive careerseekers. (Potential candidates can choose to make their CVs available and hence become active or ensure that the CV remains unseen, passive and thus unsearchable, however still allowing the careerseeker to respond and search through job ads.) "The key concern at the time was confidentiality," says Kris Jarzebowski, MD of CareerJunction, an online recruitment service. "While still a priority, strict guidelines and reputable company names have allayed careerseeker fears."

'Matching' technology was the next phase. Careerseekers fill in detailed online CVs which then allow recruiters to match jobs accordingly. A key differentiator, which still exists today, was the technology investment by the various online recruitment companies.

"Towards the end of this period, online recruitment sites had become more than simple job boards," says Jarzebowski. "It was the start of the career centre and included advice to the careerseeker." Careerseekers could now manage their careers online: update CVs, apply for jobs, and choose to be part of a searchable pool, as well as receive regular updates on available jobs via a subscribed job alert.

2000 to 2004 the streamlining of the process
By 2000 the emphasis in the industry was on streamlining the recruitment process even further. Online recruitment reduced cost and time to hire, ensured more accurate matches, real-time responses and thus faster candidate delivery.

Part of the service offering meant moving beyond technology. "CareerJunction started developing alliances, ensuring an extended reach for the recruiters," says Jarzebowski. These crossed the Internet, bringing newspapers, as well as other Internet sites, into partnerships. The success of these alliances meant an ongoing emphasis on developing partnerships to extend reach.

By 2003, continued work on technology ensured advanced online matching, with intelligent but user-friendly search mechanisms. But now competency-based assessment tools added a whole new dimension. Prof!ler, from CareerJunction, is a case in point. Released in 2003, Prof!ler is a three-step process tool: first Job Profiling, then Candidate Filtering and Candidate Screening.

Job profiling outlines the function and specific requirements of the advertised job so that applicants can match their skills against these. It is here that the science of recruitment can be seen. Competency-based assessments define what a client needs the applicant to do, what the applicant actually can do, what drives the applicant to do it, and what level of intelligence and decision making is required to get the job done.

With Candidate Filtering, careerseekers answer multiple-choice questions which are then filtered and the results sent both to the applicant and recruiter via e-mail. Candidate screening, the final step, contains a list of specific questions that the recruiters wish to ask the candidates. The screening process also involves a comprehensive report outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate.

"The multiple choice questions in the Candidate Filtering process and the specific questions in the Candidate Screening stage are not intended to replace the human exchange but rather control the number and quality of potential candidates to be interviewed," explains Jarzebowski. The question sets created for the online interviews come from intelligently populated template-driven databases and are legislative compliant.

Prof!ler allows candidates and recruiters to track where they are in the interviewing process. Recruitment agencies also have access to online statistics showing the number of views and responses, as well as multiple regret and contacting facilities. "We developed the software locally and it was partly funded by the Department of Trade and Industry's Support Programme for Industrial Innovation (SPII) fund," says Jarzebowski. (SPII is designed to promote technology development in manufacturing industries in South Africa through support for innovation of competitive products and/or processes.)

The candidate side of eRecruitment had not been left to idle either. "Resumes could now be emailed with a personalised cover letter and careerseekers could submit their CVs for an online reference check," explains Jarzebowski. ID-Refchek is an international service that places an encrypted digital Watermark on the resume which serves to verify certain basic personal information.

Current trends
While all of the above has been in operation since around 2003, online recruitment continues to move forward. Currently South Africa sees an alternative trend to the United States where career Websites are perceived to be cutting into the newspapers' niche (www.emarketer.com, 2004).

"CareerJunction has the Multimedia Recruitment Advertising Strategy (MRAS)," explains Jarzebowski. "The alliances between our site and newspapers have resulted in extended reach rather than a negation of newspaper employment pages. Companies and recruitment agencies still place ads in newspapers but give the Web address of a job advert rather than requiring an e-mail or written response. This channels all applications to one point, cutting down on time and ensuring measurable results."

A further trend sees companies bringing recruitment in-house. How many companies choose to follow this path and the ultimate impact on the industry is yet to be seen. This could herald the change from recruitment agency to recruitment consultant, where agencies are utilised for their expert know-how on a retainer basis rather than according to placement fees.

Companies, both locally and globally, are developing themselves as employer brands, where the recruitment process now includes the marketing of the company as an employer of choice. The intention is to attract the best possible candidates to remain competitive within their markets. Many companies now service their recruitment requirements using a career page or section on their own Website.

For those companies that want to extend their reach and ensure a consistency between internal (intranet) and external recruitment, the use of technologies developed by online recruitment agencies is then 'purchased'. While the front end the pages and tools viewed by the online visitor is branded with the company's corporate identity, the back-end technology is run by the online recruitment agencies utilising the Application Service Provider (ASP) model.

"The ASP model allows for integration while cutting costs around development and the acquiring of additional IT infrastructure, as well as ensuring ongoing maintenance," says Jarzebowski. "Companies can then advertise an unlimited number of branded vacancies but they may not search the online CV database as the confidentiality of careerseekers is paramount. However, the advantage to the companies is that they can build your own resume database."

The concept of Business Intelligence (BI) is also now entering the recruitment market. "BI is not a new concept," says Jarzebowski. "It denotes the process of gathering information in the field of business using tools that 'wade' through large amounts of information to filter data into a usable form." CareerJunction introduced BI tools in 2005, offering recruiters the capability to gain information that is essential for decision-making within the recruitment process.

"The Online Job Reporting tool allows recruiters to view a graphical representation of the number of jobs advertised versus the number of careerseeker views and responses per job advertised," explains Jarzebowski. "The recruiter can then determine the success of their job advertising and compare results against current industry trends." Reports can be created and job ad activity can be compared to that of other recruiters in the CareerJunction network. Further functionality allows users to extract, edit and utilise these reports offline and integrate them into company or marketing intelligence.

"Placement Tracker allows recruiters to track and establish the success of placements, comparing the effectiveness of placements made online, via print, through word-of-mouth or any other third party channel," says Jarzebowski. This placement data and market intelligence can be used in planning future job advertising and recruitment strategies.

With Best Practice eRecruitment strategies now in place and ongoing technological and industry developments, eRecruitment and recruitment is steadily moving forward and growing. This is an industry where technology, experience and people operate seamlessly together.

John Sumser

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