A few days ago, in a conversation with a senior-level recruiting manager, I was surprised to discover that her idea of an Internet-based recruiting process was to use job boards and do Internet searching for passive candidates. While these two particular processes are excellent, they do not by any means make up a total Internet solution (TIS). There are many additional parts and pieces that come together to create a comprehensive and far more useful TIS, and this article will outline a few of those elements. At the bottom of the pyramid lie the job boards. Job boards give recruiters access to thousands of candidates and candidates access to thousands of job postings. But job boards are limited for several reasons. The first is simply that most of them are so broad-based that a recruiter cannot tell if they contain any candidates that suit their particular needs. While an increasing number of boards are focused on a particular type of individual (dice.com on IT professionals), others are focused geographically (craigslist, which concentrates on the Silicon Valley/San Francisco job market). This helps to make them more useful, but they are still only getting to the 9% or so of the population that is actively looking for a job. What about the passive candidate?the person who is happily employed and not looking? To get at them, you will need additional tools. So, one step up from the bottom come the tools for searching the Internet. These include all the general search tools like Alta Vista, Google, or Yahoo, as well as the Boolean search phrases and techniques. AIRS and many others offer classes that teach recruiters how to go out over the worldwide network and, using a variety of these tools, look for resumes, biographies, or other artifacts of people who may have the skills you are seeking. There are many so called “Bots,” which are really just very specific search tools, that comb the Internet for a particular kind of person or a particular skill set. The yields from these kinds of searches can be excellent?if the person conducting them is skilled and the kinds of candidates sought use the Internet and have useful material up on the Internet. Of course, as the tools become more sophisticated, so do the people who use the Internet. Those that are not interested in being found find ways to hide. Some recruiters report good success, but I hear that overall the success rates are declining as everyone becomes better at using or avoiding the tools. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> But both of these steps are fine for attracting the candidate who is either actively looking or “lurking” on the Internet with a resume or bio readily available. To get at other potential candidates will take a more aggressive stance?a stance based on marketing tools and image tools that get web surfers to your website. The best strategies use both traditional print and broadcast media to drive candidates to the website, but also use banner ads, links and other online promotional activities. And, hopefully, the website has been carefully designed using focus groups and market research to appeal to the candidates you are trying to hire. A good website is not easy to build and requires constant grooming. I often equate a website to a garden. You have to fertilize, prune, rotate and watch for the changing seasons to have a good website or a good garden. Some of the best recruiting websites are found at high-tech companies, such as Cisco and Texas Instruments, or at retail firms, such as Federated Department Stores’ Retailology website. Other good sites can be found at Goldman Sachs and Fidelity. Look at these examples and read some of the analysis and research done by WetFeet.com and Recruitsoft.com on what makes a good recruiting website. Once you have potential candidates coming to your website, the next step up is to use tools that allow you to build networks of candidates, talent pools, and online communities. These are currently the “hot” tools and are offered by more and more companies every week. The pioneers in this space include Hire.com, which offered this powerful methodology several years ago. Integrated into your corporate website are tools that communicate with candidates and ask them questions, screen their answers, and offer to provide them on-going information about jobs in your organization. Building on-going relationships is critical because the talent war is going to be won by the companies that realize how important it is to have known someone for a while and how much easier it is for a person who knows you and your company to say yes to an offer. The more people you can touch, teach, and communicate with, the more people you will be able to hire. Beyond these basic steps come tools to assess and screen candidates. These are being added to the Internet strategies of the leading-edge firms right now. Some vendors are offering tests of IT skills and programming capability, while others are offering aptitude or cultural fit tests. These tests integrate into your website and reduce the volume of unscreened candidates. The websites that use these screening tools will add branches of testing for different kinds of potential candidates and will add personalization to the web site based on how the tests are answered. A high scoring technical candidate, for example, might get a direct interview by phone or on the Internet because of the answers she gave, while a lower scoring candidate may be offered a lower level position or be rejected. Other pieces that are being added to a TIS include information about the area your company is located in, salary or relocation calculators, or links to third-party sites that contain information about your company. One of the premier sites for this kind of information is WetFeet.com. All of these links make your web site more useful and more memorable to a candidate. So, a TIS is made up of multiple tools and requires a fairly sophisticated level of understanding of how potential candidates use the Internet and of what attracts them to your organization. The effort you spend on developing a Total Internet Strategy will pay high dividends, the highest going to those who understand it, start to do it right now and embrace these ideas fully. No war is ever won by the timid, the slow or by those who refuse to take chances.
Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at email@example.com.