The Pros and Cons of Online Recruitment

Newspapers are still jobseeker's most popular source of vacancies. But the Internet is fast becoming a rival. In the past four years, the web has nearly doubled in popularity among job-hunters. That's according to a survey by the British Market Research Bureau, which discovered that 23 per cent of those questioned preferred to go online to find work.

Well over 1m people have found jobs online during the past five years, and as graduates and young professionals become increasingly IT literate, so the numbers will greatly increase. 

But IT career consultants say it is unlikely that online recruitment will ever replace traditional methods like newspapers, the trade press, word-of mouth and contacting a company directly, which are seen as pro-active ways of finding work, while the Internet is regarded as reactive. Another survey – by IT services firm Parity – suggested that only five per cent of big employers used the Internet to recruit in 2003, compared to 33 per cent in 2001.

The common complaints about online job-hunting centre on the impersonal nature – its lack of human contact and personal feedback. Job seekers bemoan the fact that details can be out of date, sites crash at vital moments and e-mails get lost. Recruitment sites also sometimes don't have information arranged in a logical or accessible fashion.

However, the Internet is speedy, instantly available and offers a vast amount of information on job hunting as well as offering vacancies aplenty, allowing people to search, view and apply for jobs and post CVs at the click of a mouse, at any time of the day or night. Many job-search sites offer free registration and job alerts by e-mail. When used in tandem with more traditional, 'human' offline methods, the web can be extremely useful in helping shape your career.

Web-based recruitment offers candidates access to a sizeable amounts of information about their potential employers, making brushing-up on the background much easier than it was in pre-Internet days. Websites, with their interactive elements, are far more useful than company brochures in offering an idea of how a company views itself and what it expects from its members of staff.

Some recruiters have abandoned their online methods because they were being inundated with unwanted or inappropriate e-mails. But many more businesses have refined their websites to benefit both themselves and potential employees. Filtering software can screen applicants early in the process; meaning valid applicants are less likely to be lost in the glut of applications.

The very best employers' websites offer realistic job previews, sometimes through editorials featuring interviews with people currently working at the firm. Applicants may be able to e-mail specific employees, nominated by the company as spokespeople, to enquire about the nature of a position. Having access to a wealth of knowledge means you won't waste your time applying for a role to which you are not suited.

Competency questionnaires, ability tests and psychometric exams can feature online at the front end of the job application process, meaning applicants who pass these stages are the most suitable and likeliest to be considered.

It can be weeks between sending an application by post and taking a new job, by way of interviews and aptitude tests. That time frame can now potentially be reduced to days, even hours, without the need to ever leave your PC.

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