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Which Will Triumph: Traditional or E-Recruitment?

A lot has been said regarding e-recruitment, the future of recruitment agencies and recruitment Web sites. There are still many contrary opinions and uncertainty in the recruitment market as to the strategic direction a company should take regarding this matter. This is true for corporates wishing to cut exorbitant recruitment costs and recruitment agencies wishing to stay in touch with market trends and potential (newer) streams of revenue.

Online recruitment is now firmly recognised as a strategically important medium to fill vacancies offered by recruiters and, more recently and growing, by employers. The use of e-recruitment is also expanding by industry sector. Originally largely limited to IT, graduate and senior management roles, the Internet is now utilised at every level, across all industry sectors.

Early days

For many companies, e-recruitment is still at an early, even infant, stage of development, with the imperative largely driven by a desire to cut recruitment costs.

However, greater sophistication and maturity in the market are emerging, with companies seeking to use e-recruitment as part of a wider shift of their human resource (HR) operations to an electronic basis. In my opinion, the Internet will penetrate the wider jobs market in the next five years. A growing proportion of recruiters are now seeking to develop e-HR and e-recruitment strategies.

In the early stages of the market, the main priority for recruiters was generating applicants for their job advertisements. Today, the focus is shifting towards improving the quality of candidates that apply for jobs. As e-recruitment becomes part of e-HR, so the focus of recruiters is shifting towards accurately evaluating and comparing the relevant skills of candidates, ie screening, filtering, sorting and ranking candidates. This, in turn, is reshaping the services and functionality offered to recruiters by job sites. A good example of this is the portfolio of services offered by sites such as Career Junction locally and wetfeet.com internationally.

Job sites must increasingly develop services and solutions to help recruiters throughout the recruitment value chain and across the broad areas of human capital retention and development, such as training and career development. In response to recruiter pressure, job sites are also becoming more sophisticated in the types of jobs they offer and in their geographic targeting.

Still clicks-and-mortar

South African national and regional newspaper groups, trade publication publishers and traditional offline recruitment agencies have mostly all moved toward online services since 2000. The Sunday Times duplicates its print-based job advertisements online and a once prolific computing periodical has lost almost all job advertising revenue to online advertisers.

In the recruitment market, it is increasingly the norm for agencies to run/use online and offline operations. For these operators, going online was part defensive and part opportunism. Many agencies entered the online market out of a fear that job sites would effectively cut them out of the recruitment value chain, but to their delight, this has not happened. Instead, agencies have realised that online operations cannot replace the traditional agency. The combination of the traditional people skills of the agency and the automation skills of an online operation enhances the agency's total offering to a client.

Moreover, since mid-2001, major employers have made a significant move online and are increasingly offering jobs via their own corporate Web sites. I would argue that, far from this being a threat to the traditional recruitment agency, it is the job sites that have the most to fear. This development increases the pressure on job sites to offer a wider portfolio of services, including recruitment software and solutions for corporate Web sites.

The clicks-and-mortar business model also works because offline services still have a significant role to play in the recruitment industry: online job sites are not suitable for targeting all sectors of the jobs market. In addition, offline is still a prime channel for brand building by recruiters: online is used to `sell' jobs (eg below the line), but offline builds the recruiter's brand (eg above the line).

Looking ahead

In the next five years, researchers expect e-recruitment to continue to grow in popularity among both employers and employees. I predict that by 2009, most corporate bound adults will be using job sites and all major companies will be using the Internet to advertise their jobs.

Clicks-and-mortar will remain the most successful business model: a symbiotic relationship between online and offline recruitment methods will be the norm. Job sites will grow in sophistication and expand along the recruitment value chain. However, the investment required for this will demand greater consolidation in the industry. By 2007, I expect the number of job sites to have reduced by a half, as employers increasingly advertise jobs via their own Web sites (plus the surviving job sites).

So to answer the leading question: both purely e-recruitment services and purely offline recruitment services will have their place but the biggest growth will be in mixed, multi-faceted models tailor-made to specific client and market requirements. The focus will be on value-add, swifter, sleeker delivery with broad market coverage, and as always more competitive pricing that is flexible and set according to the delivery requirements of the client from a high-end premier service to a scaled down cost-effective option.


(ITWeb - The Technology News Site)

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