allure by xiaoyounan


									                    THE ALLURE OF ONLINE
  As well as providing cost savings, using the web to attract staff
  presents a golden opportunity for HR to improve its recruitment

It is easy to see the attraction of internet recruitment. Accordihng to
the Recruitment and Employment Confederation´s Report on Jobs,
there has been a strengthened demand for staff for 11 consecutive
months. So, as an employer, it seems logical to ensure that all angles
are covered when attracting new employees and, according to job
board Workthing, there are apparently more than 11 million online
jobseekers in the UK.

To put this into context, Huntress, a recruitment consultancy,
receives 50 internet or job board applications for each vacancy it
advertises –a situation many would envy. “We find candidates
typically start work within two weeks of applying for jobs or uploading
their CV onto a job board”, says Julia Vassie, Huntress´s director.

But for most organisation, the real attraction in internet recruitment
lies not in employing a new strategic tool to broaden the applicant
pool or to strengthen the employer brand - but in the reported cost

Woolworths, for example, has reduced its cost per hire by 70 per
cent; time-to-hire figures have nose-dived from eight weeks to as
little as two days and “administration time” has been cut by 40 per
cent. B&Q has cut its cost per hire by 30 per cent and says
recrutiment agency costs have been slashed. But are such savings to
be had by all?

Keith Robinson of TotalJobs shakes his head and proclaims that he
would have to be one hell of a smooth-talking sales director to make
such a bold prediction.

“Not every customer that uses internet recruitment will see a saving
of that magnitude”, he admits. “But organisations that do it well will
see savings. The bigger players, with a high volume of recruitment,
or the enlightened ones that have professional recruiters in-house
and their own website –such as PricewaterhouseCoopers or
GlaxoSmithKline – tend to see demonstrable savings”.

However, for these enlightened recruiters, money is not everything.
At Whitbread, for example, resourcing manager Victoria Bick Stresses

that there were plenty of other business drivers when it recruited
online for its pub and restaurant chains Brewsters and Brewers Fayre.

“It wasn´t a cost-saving exercise; we did it because we had
challenges in management recruitment: the market is competitive in
the leisure industry, we lacked a consistent process and we had a
third-party supplier that wasn´t living up to our needs”, she says.
“We were also facing a period of business growth, needed a more
robust process and had a retention issue – we were typically losing
15 per cent of our new managers within 90 days of their
appointment. Also, we had lots of people involved in the recruitment
process across 400 sites”.

The solution came in the form of a dedicated recruitment website, In its first four months, the site was
searched 100,000 times, resulting in 1,300 applications, which
allowed Brewsters and Brewers Fayre to recruit more than 60 per
cent of their candidates directly (and boosted the 90-day retention
figure to 95 per cent).

“Candidates go to the site and log in their details, creating database
that is used solely by us. We can keep in touch with them during their
careers, when we have something that might be suitable for them”,
says Bick. “But we´ve had to do a lot of advertising promoting the
web address, including at PR events”.

Although it was not a cost-saving exercise, the group has reduced its
agency fees. “But”, says Bick, “it was more about pulling together
processes and consistency in terms of employee brand and having a
system that would support the growth strategy”.

Jeremy Tipper, managing director at recrutiment specialist Capital
Consulting, who worked with Bick, points out some other

“From an HR director´s perspective, the better the technology
infrastructure is to support recruiment, the more effective your direct
hiring capability will be. This means less need for recruitment
agencies because you can create a database of people who´ve
expressed an interest in working for you. If you don´t use internet
recruitment, you´ll lack information on time to hire, where good
sources of talent are, diversity data and retention levels. So, if it´s
well managed, you get data you never had access to before and you
can make decisions based on analytical judgements rather than

As Tipper points out: “Finance and sales directors have always had
data –now HR directors can have the same kind of tools”.

The internet is also changing the way people look for jobs. Waqar
Azmi, head of equality and diversity at,says: “People
can look in the evenings, rather than surreptitiously at work. Most
traditional media has gone online. In the public sector, people will
look at the newspaper´s website rather than buy the paper”.

But Rebecca Clake, CIPD adviser, organisation and resourcing, warns
that although the internet is changing the way people look for jobs,
companies must ensure people will not be disadvantaged by going to
a one-size-fits-all system. “Someone with dyslexia might be
disadvantaged if they have to read things within time limits, and
there´s still a long way to go on disability”, she notes.

She also says young black men are the group least likely to have
internet access. “So if you can apply only on the internet they may
miss out. It´s better to have a holistic approach and to use all the
other tools at your disposal as well”.

TotalJobs´s Robinson Agrees this is the most common approach.
“Firms see the internet as part of a recrutiment strategy – and they
will monitor and track the cost of different media”, he says.

So is HR using online recruitment to fundamentally change
recruitment strategies for the better? Many clearly are. British Gas,
for example, believes it is one of the most sensitive employers in the
country with regard to making its website people with accessibility
needs visiting its website.

Internet recruitment has also allowed it to double the number of
application it receives from women. Andy Randall, CEO of I-Grasp,
worked with British Gas on its site. He notes that it was “pleasantly
surprising” to find the candidate population they targeted had web
access. “We wanted to attract more applications from ethnic
minorities, from women, from people who were older. It was an
aspiration to reflect the customer base that British Gas was serving”.

Malcolm Buchanan, national resourcing manager at British Gas, is
optimistic for the future of the internet in recruitment. “We had been
observing the development of online recruitment”, he says, “and felt
the time was right to implement this approach. As a result of the
chanbge, we have decreased speed to hire, cost per hire and
administration time. If you consider that plumbers and fitters do not
traditionally use the internet in their working day, we have been able

to gain their interest and continue to increase the number of quality
applications we receive”.

With 85 per cent of organisations reporting recruitment difficulties
(according to this year´s CIPD recruitment, retention and turnover
survey), this is surely welcome news.

Steve Smethurst
People Management, 29 july 2004


To top