Zapping Your Recruitment Strategies

Let’s face it, the Internet is dramatically changing the world in which we live. The very definition of community now includes those individuals that maintain common interests and are linked to one another via this endless web of wires, modems, and hard disks. When a group of educational and governmental bureaucrats brought the Internet into existence in the mid 60s they could not have guessed where it would be today, or where it is scheduled to be tomorrow.
Recruiting was the first of the Human Resources functional areas that took advantage of this newly exploding technology.
How exactly can you use the Internet to improve your recruiting efforts? The following will focus on the Users’ Network, electronic mail, electronic mailing lists and the World Wide Web.
The Users’ Network.
Most individuals on the Internet know the Users’ Network as simply the UseNet. This is where the infamous electronic bulletin boards or newsgroups are found. There are literally thousands of newsgroups limited only by the number your local Internet Service Provider (ISP) decides to carry.
The greatest benefit of using newsgroups in your recruiting effort is that it is easy to do. Similar to posting an index card on a bulletin board with a tack, a recruiter would place an electronic message on the appropriate electronic bulletin board using a news reader package. Skill and experience is required to determine which of the multiple thousand newsgroups will assist you in reaching your target audience.
After the newsgroups with the most appropriate coverage have been selected the recruiter should "lurk" for a while. Each newsgroup is a virtual community and as with any small town there are right and wrong ways to communicate. Community standards are developed over time by the members of the newsgroup itself. By reviewing the postings of each newsgroup to which the posting will be applied, the recruiter will have a much better chance of hiring success. Feel free to post a question as to whether job vacancies are allowed on the given newsgroup and, if so, what format they must take.
Individuals who choose to respond to the posting can do so on the newsgroup by attaching a message "threaded" to the original for all to see or can respond any other way outlined in the posting. Other response methods might include any of the more common application submission methods, or the recruiter may ask that electronic resumes be sent as an attachment to an electronic mail message sent to a pre-designated electronic mail address.
Proceed with caution! Postings placed on electronic bulletin boards remain there and cannot be removed without great difficulty.
Electronic Mail. When I started using the Internet, I did not expect electronic mail to be of any significant benefit to me. Today, e-mail is one of my most utilized business tools. Communications can take place with individuals across the globe at a local access price. A single message can be distributed to hundreds of individuals in a matter of minutes with a single click of the mouse. Files can be attached to e-mail messages enabling the recipient to print out an original quality application, job description, resume or related document. E-mail messages can be forwarded to others, as can their file attachments. Whether users are at home or out of town, they can access the information sent to their e-mail address and respond to any location on the Internet. Networking with fellow HR professionals can take place without regard to their geographic proximity.
Ensure that your e-mail messages include a detailed signature block called a "signature file" by most e-mail packages. The signature file should include your name, title, company name, e-mail address, mailing address, company’s homepage address (if it has one), and possibly your phone number. One benefit is that this information will assist an individual in their efforts to contact you if they have printed a message and are not nearby a computer when they need to get in touch with the sender.
Electronic Mailing Lists. Similarities exist between UseNet newsgoups and e-mail lists. Instead of posting questions and response threads to electronic bulletin boards viewable by anyone with a news reader, the list server (commonly known as a listserv) acts as a mass mailer of e-mail messages to all the specific list’s subscribers. There are thousands of e-mail lists available with topics ranging from training and development to nursing.
E-mail lists exist primarily to allow individuals with similar interest to network. To join an e-mail list an individual must send a message to the mailing list server with a very specific subscription phrase placed in the body of the message. If the subscription is accepted, a confirmation message is returned to the sender almost immediately. If the list is moderated, requiring a human review of the subscription request, the sender will receive a confirmation within the next few days. Keep this initial confirmation! The message gives details regarding options available to customize how the listserv sends you messages, details how to send e-mail to all of the members of the list, and most importantly how to sign off of the list.
As with UseNet newsgroups, vacancy announcements can easily be sent to a target audience of potential applicants. Unlike newsgroups, each message mailed to the listserv is sent out in the e-mail version of a direct mail campaign and is not put on a static electronic bulletin board. Carefully read the introductory confirmation e-mail message, lurk on the list for a while, and ask the list owner (via an e-mail message) what the rules are regarding the posting of vacancy announcements to the list prior to sending a posting to the list’s subscribers. Some listserv discussion groups do not condone the sending of vacancy announcements to list subscribers. Failure to comply with what is deemed list netiquette will result in flaming e-mail messages filling your mailbox.
World Wide Web. The World Wide Web (WWW) covers the same geographic areas that the Internet does, using the same wires and hardware. What has made the WWW so popular is that it allows for the data found on the Internet to be presented and linked in a more attractive and user friendly fashion. To view the data in all of its graphical glory and to travel the Web by simply clicking the mouse buttons an individual must have a WWW browser.
Searching for candidates using WWW Search Engines. The difficulty in finding potential candidates using the World Wide Web is not because there is too little information found on the Web but, rather, because there is too much. The recruiter must sort through a great deal of chaff prior to finding any wheat. The broadest sweep of the information on the WWW can be achieved using one of the Web’s search engines. Search engines index the information on the Web either by performing periodic automated searches documenting what is found at the end of each strand of the Web or by indexing information that has been submitted for inclusion in their database. By choosing the appropriate words, the search engine will point the recruiter to potential links related to those words. Searching through many unrelated dead-ends may result from the majority of the searches, which could include hundreds of thousands of potential links. Clearly, until the recruiter has become quite adept at using the various search engines this would not be the best place to spend your time in your applicant sourcing efforts.
Searching for applicants by placing the posting on WWW career sites. Job hunters that are Internet savvy but are not necessarily seeking an opportunity at your company will perform regular searches at one or more of the Internet’s career search sites. CareerMosaic and The Monster Board are a couple of the more popular career search sites. These companies, as well as other similar ones, will assist you in advertising vacancies on the Web, for a fee. Many are professional advertising firms that can assist you with the development of your entire advertising campaign.
Even the state employment agency offices across the country have an Internet presence through America’s Job Bank. Ensure that your employment office posts the job vacancies placed with them on this site.
Searching for applicants by creating an organizational WWW presence. The chance that a vacancy will be filled simply by placing a position description on a web page, even though accessible to the world, is slim to none. As was noted earlier, there is just too much information out there for an individual to find your vacancy without some help or luck. Since luck is something the recruiter cannot control, here are some suggestions on how to improve the odds by helping the job seeker to find your site.
Creating a web presence is a good idea for any company right now. Costs are low especially if the site resides on a third party ISP’s hardware. An organization can purchase their own domain name (or personalized Internet address) for under $100 and have the address be "theirs" for the next two years. If an Internet savvy individual wants to work at Widgets, Inc., their first attempt to locate Widgets on the WWW will be at the address of if that is Widgets’ domain then they will find the company on their first try.
Next, the recruiter must ensure that every WWW search engine available recognizes the company’s Web site and maintains a link to it. This can be done by contacting each of the search engine administrators directly or by using one of the mass registration sites available on the Web. Most search engines will create a link for free but the mass registration sites typically charge a fee. By having all of these pointers directing a link to the company’s site there will be a higher probability that applicants will be able to find your vacancies.
Career search sites will establish a nice graphical link to your company’s site, for a fee. If an employer wishes to increase the number of visits from this pool of job seekers, then it would be appropriate to pay for one or more of these sites to create a "button" link to your site. For the smaller employers, this fee may be excessive relative to the benefits gained, but clearly for the most competitive and larger employers, it makes a great deal of sense.
All of your company’s printed material should include the address of your Web presence. This address is its Universal Resource Locator (URL) and typically will begin with "http://." Classified advertisements placed in local papers should direct applicants to the additional details regarding the vacancy found at the associated URL for that specific information within the company’s Web site. On-line applications may be appropriate for the most cutting-edge firms. Ensure that the company’s recruiters with e-mail access include the organization’s URL in their e-mail signature lines. Many e-mail packages now allow the reader to click on the URL within an e-mail message and automatically be taken to that site via their WWW browser.
Can technology and specifically the Internet assist you in finding the right candidate? The answer is clearly yes. Internet technology should be used in conjunction with more common methods of sourcing for qualified applicants. Gaining a comfort level utilizing this technology will be critical for your organization’s ongoing success.

ERIC R. WILSON, SPHR, is president of HR Integrated Solutions, Inc., a human resources consulting firm based in Portland, Ore., specializing in the effective use of technology within organizations. Reprint #7479

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, from HR FOCUS NOVEMBER 1996 1996.  American Management Association, New York. All rights reserved.

Last Updated March 04, 2001
Copyright HR Integrated Solutions, Inc. 1995-2001