With the advent of World Wide Web, technology has taken a paradigm shift grasping into its fold the manner in which employee recruitment occurred in the previous decade. E-recruitment can be defined as "the online environment that allows companies and potential job applicants to interact with each other" (Maurer and Liu, 2007). In spite of all the media hype created with regard to web based recruitment procedures, the dilemma still persists as research based on the reaction of candidates in relation to the basic online recruitment procedures is still vague (Lievens & Harris, 2003). Organizations have decided to rely more on this virtual medium but their exists certain loopholes in the selection procedures adopted by online recruiters that questions the validity of e-recruitment perceptions in the minds of people wishing to seek a job (Bauer et al., 2006). This report is an attempt to highlight the impeding issues associated with e-recruitment by appraising the strategic measures adopted by e-business websites and comparing their outcomes for elucidating the best e-recruitment practices that will be favoured by the suitable job applicants.
Critical evaluation: Strengths and weaknesses
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Although the practice of hiring capable applicants online is widely approved yet the theoretical underpinnings have provided the basis that entrepreneurial websites and e-recruitment system are directly concerned with the brand reputation of the organization and the perceptions of candidates towards the employers (Cober et al., 2004).
It has been figured out that applicants mostly look for the user friendliness of e-recruitment website and the time effectiveness associated with job applying procedure (Lievens et al, 2003).Among the benefits associated with e-recruitment, the most significant so far being the substantial savings. It has been estimated that online recruitment helps in mitigating financial costs to almost ninety percent. Not just this, the time efficiency up to 25% is also guaranteed with this hiring procedure (Lievens & Harris, 2003). A trend reportt by "PotentialPark Communications AB" revealed that job seekers usually surf the internet to get updated about the job offerings despite of traditional methods of gaining information. Generally e-recruitment can be categorized as having niche job boards, application service providers, job boards for general purpose, consortiums as well as website portals for corporate purposes.
In relation to conventional methods of recruiting, online applications can be utilized for directing potential candidates to the appropriate vacancies according to their job caliber. In this way, organizations experience flexibility of logistics. Costs for incurring a web application for a potential candidate are relatively low (Thompson, Braddy, and Wuensch, 2008, p. 2385).
E-recruitment is also favoured by the individuals seeking job opportunities as they can access the employment specifications within seconds and can navigate the website of major organizations who are taking advantage of their web portal to hire people. Applicants are offered flexibility to apply for the job as they have ample time to distinguish between the job benefits offered by alternative companies. Internet aids in providing them with real time feedback on immediate basis once they have submitted their job application on the designated website.
Figure: E-Recruitment process as perceived by job applicants
Discrepancies associated with e recruitment are the great influx of applicants that proves to be a hindrance during selection procedure in an efficient manner. Quality control cannot be guaranteed as all population segments have sufficient access to apply online (Vanes and Paik, 2010, p.192).
Corporate websites for e-recruitment:
Zusman and Landis (2002) stated that in order to grab hold of the most talented candidates, a crucial role is played by employers' "individual web pages" especially in the process of electronic recruitment. Websites are helpful in letting the candidates know about the corporate values of the prospective firm, provide a domain for submitting resumes online or filling job applicant forms (Lievens et al., 2002).
The website dealing with e-recruitment is considered the "natural extension" of all business related functions performed by the firm. According to Maurer and Liu (2007) almost five hundred international companies are getting benefitted by the corporate websites meant for online recruitment. A more recent innovation of e-recruitment is the launch of job domains that allows ease of navigating the respective website for applying on a job post. It has been suggested that online recruiters must utilize the communicative features of internet into the website designed for recruiting employees. The attraction of e-recruitment phenomenon for corporate companies will improve manifold with the addition of "virtual human touch" in the proceedings (Lee, 2007).
Current thinking and practices in e-recruitment
Always on Time
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With so many advantages associated with e-recruitment, labor market has come on the verge of facing tremendous competition. Online recruiters have classified their priorities to hire the best suitable candidate yet they are also challenged by the emerging trends for globalization. Therefore appropriate market strategies are being devised by them to improve hiring practices (Cappelli, 2001). In order to gain competitive edge in the market, an online recruitment mechanism is mandatory. Also the challenge associated with hiring people online is that employers have to consider job candidates as "consumers" while designing websites for job openings. Once the corporate websites are able to target the right job persons, employers might have a greater chance of attracting applicants with the specific knowledge, abilities and skills required for the job (Maurer and Liu, 2007).
Companies who are taking advantage of the contemporary e-recruitment are rapidly advancing in the adoption of Human Resource systems concerned with career development, staffing, performance appraisal and training but this all requires the proper alignment of website or database architecture and HR information linked with the recruitment process (Cullen, 2001). The strategy favoured by such companies is to attract potential candidate attention by using job boards, fliers, search engines, offline advertisements just as a means to make their website become noticeable.
In the e-recruitment arena, "candidate management system" has replaced the traditional selection being done by organization's administrators. Special softwares have made it easier to sort out talented individuals from a pool of candidates on the basis of specific skills and experience required by the firm (Watson, 2008).
Characteristics of an online recruitment website:
Mostly job applicants will view the company's website in order to make a decision for continuing working with the firm therefore the employers should be conscious of designing a compelling website for attracting talented candidates. The website must offer a "clear and immediate appeal" with ease of accessibility. It should be responsive and convenient. Content provided should be informative and coherent with links to other advertising agencies that have collaborated with the company, job ads and knowledge about personal contacts must be illustrated. The company should properly exemplify its organization culture, people, and products or services being offered. To compel applicants, graphical features and animations like short videos depicting interviews with present personnel, virtual tours showing working environment together with guidance for hiring process that might persuade an individual to join the company should be inculcated in the web portal (Watson, 2008). Potential recruits must also be kept in mind before designing a virtual recruitment site (Cappelli, 2001). For example if the company is willing to hire technical expertise for carrying out job activities than a "mundane" web portal might not divert their attention towards the post (Cheese, Thomas and Craig, 2007, p.106).
Analysis of various websites offering e-recruitment facility:
Screenshot image: www.google.co.uk
The organization began its operations in 1996 by the name of search engine "BackRub" which over the years transformed into "Google". The website provides hiring information in a step by step manner. E-recruitment starts with a job search. Willing applicants will opt for applying to the jobs depending on their interest, location and department of work. The site also displays the varied services offered by Google to improve worldwide entrepreneurial activities e.g. mobile marketing, Google Adsense application etc. Once a job application is submitted, it is reviewed by a team of professionals to figure out the eligibility criteria. Afterwards telephonic as well as onsite interview sessions are conducted for the final selection of an employee. Website is aided with video and graphical illustrations. There is a separate section indicating "life at Google" to envisage the work place standards preferred by Google. The site is enriched with the basic ideology behind Google, its culture, the initiatives it is currently pursuing, company's strategies and security procedures in action. For students, employment opportunities are provided on the basis of demographical locations around the world.
Google still try to retain the organization matrix similar to a small firm. Employees are given the freedom to express their views even up to the top levels of hierarchy. Hiring is based on "ability over experience". Core principles adopted by the company are to value users more than anything else as by doing this, the benefits are likely to follow.
Career development opportunities:
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The statement of Google's co-founder, Lary Page has been subscribed on the recruitment webpage. According to him "We don't just want you to have a great job. We want you to have a great life. We provide you with everything you need to be productive and happy on and off the clock". Google is still involved continuously in the job hiring process in the virtual environment particularly focusing on the "person-job-fit" because the aim is to hire the top notch who is creative and smart but the skill expertise required by the firm are diverse. In the current team there are neurosurgeons, and ex-CEOs of major software firms. As compared to other companies "Googlers" are compensated with excellent pay packages. The psychological contract offered by Google together with manifold driving forces let the employees retain their job positions and reveal high levels of performance (Griffin & Moorhead, 2009, p.220).
KPMG international (www.kpmgcareers.co.uk):
Screenshot image: www.kpmgcareers.co.uk
KPMG is the globally recognized firm that offers financial advisory services related to tax and audit to its clients. Currently 10,000 employees are a part of KPMG with 556 strategic partners. The web portal of KPMG is so designed that the users feel at ease while navigating through the site. Proper information pertaining to the organization as well as the rationale for choosing KPMG as a job choice is aptly described. Users can surf the site and gain knowledge about the vacation programmes, internships and graduate trainee programmes offered by the company for future employment. The website describes an application of "KPMG iGoogle recruitment gadget" making it possible for potential candidates to get latest information about the current vacancies offered by the company. Graduates are encouraged to become part of the audit and finance advisory departments.
Values being portrayed by the company are that it places special emphasis on the integrity of its workforce in order to bring about change and innovation which is favoured by the clients.
Career development opportunities:
For attracting job candidates, the company has also mentioned its strengths on the website in terms of winning the "Best Big Company to Work for" reward in the year 2009. The company favours women employment thus promoting diversity as 45% female graduates were employed by the firm in 2008. The organization offers wide distribution network of job opportunities across United Kingdom to the locations that are feasible for the candidates. Leadership keeps on circulating, keeping the organizational structure flexible with the changing customer demands.
Screenshot image: www.careers.microsoft.com
Bill Gates and Paul Allen were the co-creators of Microsoft Inc. that emerged in the corporate world in mid 1970s altering the way businesses used to be conducted prior the onset of software applications launched by the company. The web portal for e-recruitment designed to retrieve a pool of applicants from United Kingdom can be easily accessed by internet users. The site is also linked to the company's facebook page to gain more popularity in the social network. All application processing details are provided before hand to the candidates to avoid any misinterpretation. The process encompasses an online form to be submitted by the job seeker, after which a telephonic interview session is conducted, further followed by an aptitude test or assessment centre. The company wants to recruit those graduates who have scored grades above 2.1 in any discipline they wish to apply. Usually Masters in computer science or PhD level qualifications are welcomed for higher posts. Young graduates can take part in the internship programme offered by the company. The home page of Microsoft career site has a brief illustration of the recent awards won by the company. To motivate potential employees interviews with current personnel are narrated at the site.
Microsoft favours individuals having unique thinking skills that could boost up the innovative process of the firm. The main values related to employees are that Microsoft people are honest, liable for their deeds, critical and hold high passion for technical development.
Career development opportunities:
Graduate job seekers are offered training and development to nurture the competencies demanded by the firm. For professionals the website has brief description of all the professions together with required competencies that individuals might wish to pursue e.g. in the field of Software engineering, opportunities are available for SDEs ("Software Development Engineers") who must be apt at computer language coding like C++ for converting their present knowledge into technically advanced software systems. Other than that fields of business administration, human resources, marketing, finance and legal operations all require both young and experienced professionals. Equal opportunities are available for women employees. Employees are rewarded with quarterly rewards such as paid holidays, income protection, health screening, gym membership, childcare facility etc.
Heriot Watt University (www.hw.ac.uk):
Screenshot image: www.hw.ac.uk
Established in 1821, the university has formed a firm stature in pedagogy, research and development that makes it stand among the highest ranking universities of United Kingdom. Heriot Watt University's website offers recruitment services by keeping its students up to date about the job vacancies available at the institution. Students who have graduated or are still studying can navigate the website easily choosing for job that suits their subject area of interest. Access is granted to view the staff profiles as well as general briefing about the interview and recruitment test procedures.
The aim of this educational institute is to provide information and website access within reach for everyone with a strong assurance of delivering quality teaching methods.
Career development opportunities:
As a career advice, Herriot offers its student to book an appointment in case of any queries or confusion related to career path. Upcoming job fairs are also well scheduled on the website. Virtual chat facility is an added feature that can help graduates and current students to clear their concerns related to job opportunities.
Critical analysis of e-recruitment practices adopted by successful firms:
As a start up process, individuals might surf search engine where they could type job keywords according to their level of skills e.g. a graduate, an accountant etc. Instantly hundreds of job boards might become visible. On the right side of the navigating bar there is a region for Sponsored Links or "pay per click option", from where they can access their desired website vendors.
Google is categorized among the relatively few e-business firms who are very apt at recruiting the most suitable people. The web pages dealing with recruitment have the contextual wordings like "Google seeks to hire only the best". Several studies carried on to assess the e-recruitment strategies of Google suggests that Google had to make its hiring strategies a little more flexible with the great influx of people willing to join this firm. Such dramatic makeshift resulted in higher number of workers but the eligibility for selection is deemed on the candidate possessing at least a master's or doctorate from the most accredited institution.
Such practice of hiring only elites is not just limited to Google but Microsoft and Amazon.com also follow the same footings. In 1993, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft Inc, remarked, "The key for us, number one, has always been hiring very smart people. There is no way of getting around, that in terms of I.Q., you've got to be very elitist in picking the people who deserve to write software"(Girard, 2009, p.53-55).
The common rationale of these organizations to hire the very best can be analyzed in the context of technological innovations within coming years. At Google and other popular firms, the credibility and vitality of a position is expanded at a rated scale. There is a good chance that employees get promoted a number of times within their job tenure therefore recruiting exceptionally qualified personnel is considered an appropriate practice. Besides that high qualification or studying more in relation to others indicate the psychological profile of candidates e.g. technological companies are in a habit of hiring young graduate professionals. But those who remain in the university are likely to gain more expertise in their respective field of study. Contrary to that, recruiting fresh graduates is done with the underlying aim to get the best motivated lot who will work hard to improve quality of work. Such strategy is more favourable when a company is facing downturn and need to make fortunes in limited period of time.
As the co-founders of Google are more reliant on rational standing and maths, preference to hire PhDs is due to their ability to judge situation in terms of objectivity. They are more apt at believing in factual assessments rather than improvisation. Also the experience of carrying out an independent thesis as part of their degree completion makes them more capable of handling work situation autonomously. Therefore it can be said that in terms of e-recruitment, realism is embedded underneath the perceived onset of elitism (Girard, 2009, p. 54).
Offering jobs to people in an e-business sector is plausible but to retain them simultaneously is a challenge. The promotional offerings of Google with respect to its employees are not just limited to the financial remunerations. According to psychologists, the behavior of employees is incumbent upon two motivational forms i.e. "intrinsic or extrinsic". The prior type of motivation is initiated within, i.e. it is derived from the level of interest that the employee holds for the job and assimilated satisfaction construct while the later i.e. extrinsic driving forces have to inculcated from external sources in the form of reward, pay rise, change in work sector etc. The external motivators are extensively utilized by Google, KPMG and Microsoft. Employees are being paid well but intrinsic factors are also taken into account as the e-firms recognize that its workforce should remain motivated beyond monetary gains (Girard, 2009, p.53-55).
Google needed to devise better strategies for catering to the intrinsic needs of employees. For this they tried to follow the successful strategy of 3M company named the "15 percent rule" according to which employees are allowed to dedicate their professional services up to fifteen percent of their time to the projects they desire to work on. With this regard the policies of Google aid to divide working hours of web developers and engineers with the ratio of eighty percent work hours dedicated for assigned tasks and 20 percent research work they are allowed to choose for themselves. Such 20 percent relief is considered a solace for the employees who have never enjoyed work freedom in their prior jobs. Through this means even engineers are encouraged to design products of their desire which in turn adds to the innovative set up mechanism of Google (Girard, 2009, p.65).
Online recruiters are also taking benefit of social networking sites and internet communities like Web 2.0 for finding the most eligible job applicant. In such manner, those credentials of the applicant can also be verified that are sometimes not listed in the curriculum vitae (Schramm, 2007). This technique of using Web 2.0 features has been practiced by Hariot Watt University by the onset of "virtual job fair" programmes. The target aim is to conduct online interviews from potential candidates. Although the success rate of this policy is not yet predicted but it is hoped that such e-recruitment will be appropriate for selecting potential employees in minimum time.