|Electronic explosion is raising stakes for applicants, employers
By Harriet Johnson Brackey
Knight Ridder Newspapers
If you’re looking for a job these days, you can’t afford to ignore the Internet.
With an estimated 24,000 recruiters advertising, who wouldn’t look there?
But whether an electronic job search will land you the position you want is still an open question.
There is phenomenal growth, competing business models and a significant amount of confusion.
The hype is evident from some rather astounding facts. No one had a virtual resume five years ago when Jeff Taylor, who was then 33, put some recruitment advertisements online and called it Monster Board. Today, employers spend $105 million on electronic job advertising, making it the biggest category by far of the $185 million spent for online classifieds last year, according to Forrester Research.
And no one could have foreseen that Taylor’s creation, now Monster.com, would be collecting 35,000 resumes a week in the spring of 1999.
“Buyers and sellers do find each other in unbelievable numbers,” Taylor says. His firm’s surveys show that one of four candidates gets an offer.
VIEW FROM OTHER SIDE
However, employers say the results of online recruiting are a bit more dicey than that.
A survey of 322 executives from Olsten Staffing Services showed that only 5 percent of the new hires this year are expected to come from the Internet. A sample of employers said that figure seems to match what’s going on in South Florida.
“You can say this is a visionary projection,” says Les Lucas, human- resources manager for McDonald’s South Florida region. “But I’m going to say that probably five years down the line, we may be exclusively an Internet recruiter.”
It’s still rather unclear, too, who will make money in this field.
Tony Lee, editor-in-chief of careers.wsj.com, says there are four business models in use now. Some electronic sites charge advertisers a few hundred dollars for one job listing at a time, others have a more-than-$1,000 price for any number of listings from a single employer, still others publish ads electronically at no charge if the employer also buys an ad in the newspaper that owns the site, and there are sites that don’t charge anyone, job seeker or employer, any fee.
People on both sides of the job hunt are still sorting things out.
Locally, McDonald’s is a heavy Internet user, but SunBank’s Miami manager of employment Elizabeth Wysong says the bank is waiting for the picture to become clearer before jumping in.
Some local cyber-seekers say they don’t always find what they need.
“For the past four or five months now, I’ve been using different Web sites,” says Edward Stephenson, a health-care administrator who lives in Pembroke Pines. “What I’ve noticed is that 99.9 percent of those jobs are in information technology.”
Same goes for some cyber-recruiters. Cindy Oliver, human-resources director, Curtiss-Wright Accessory Services Miami, says that she has at times been inundated with resumes to sort. Few were on target when she used one of the many new services that offer to match a job posting to resumes collected over the Internet.
“You get one or two keywords and anything that matches those keywords. It may be completely irrelevant to what you’re looking for,” she says.
Even though it’s generally less expensive to use electronic advertising than it is to buy a newspaper ad or to recruit candidates on college campus, employers say it takes some work to use it well.
TAILORING STRATEGIES TO NET
Those who say the Internet produces good candidates for them have done more than merely transfer their employment ads from print to electronic media.
They’ve created a separate strategy for virtual recruiting to take advantage of such things as virtual job fairs and electronic job applications. For example, if you are taking online job applications, an employer should have a mechanism in place to evaluate them and respond quickly.
They’ve chosen specific industry-oriented sites - for nurses or electrical engineers - that produce candidates that are a better match for their openings.
They limit their Internet recruiting to computer-oriented jobs in information technology and finance.
They tie Internet recruiting to corporate marketing by steering all the electronic job-seekers to their own company’s home page.
Jay Rombach, Office Depot senior human resources representative, uses the Internet to build a database to do what he calls “just in time” recruiting.
Through its own name recognition and the big job-hunting sites, the Delray Beach, Fla., company receives 600-800 resumes a week. When an employment advertisement is published somewhere for specific openings, Rombach says, the volume can 1,000.
Resumes are e-mailed or sent on paper then scanned into the company’s database.
With all that information at their fingertips, “If a job opening comes up, we are just in time to address it,” Rombach says.
STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD
Coming to the job interview down an electronic path is new enough that it lends an aura to those who do. “It is kind of a ‘90s going-into-the-millennium type of thing –if you go for all that,” says Michele Cable, who found her job as a construction coordinator at McDonald’s regional headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., on the Internet. Cable admits she was a bit leery of using the Internet, but when she saw big,national companies, she felt it was a legitimate way to search.
RAISING THE STAKES
In the end, this electronic explosion is raising the stakes for all those who have a business that revolves around job hunters.
They’re competing fiercely to get resumes into one giant collection that employers would pay to access. And they’re looking for the technology that can accurately match a person to an opening.
“Imagine if there were a resume database with 50 million people in it,” said Taylor, the Monster.com visionary. Employers wouldn’t need to advertise, just to tap into that database when they had opening. Job hunters could keep their information current so they never actually start or end their job searches.
“If I can build my site so that job seekers have a great experience,” Taylor says, “then the employers will come out of the woodwork.”
Source: Columbus Dispatch, September 12, 1999
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