Internet Recruiting

State of the Internet

I think by now most of us have come a long way towards integrating the multitude of uses for the Internet into our workflow. However, I imagine many wonder to this day if they are getting the most out of the Internet connection they have. For this month’s column, I am going to talk some about the many ways we can all benefit. As the field of choices becomes more crowded, the decisions become more difficult.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – If you are still using index cards, excel or word, an old DOS database, an old windows shared database, or maybe even a contact manager, you are not maximizing your revenue potential. The trend in this software category over the last five years or so has been that many providers now offer a web-only solution. There is good reason for this. A web-based or web-enabled solution is an extremely cost-effective and flexible method for most of us to take advantage of shared data. Even if you are a solo operator, you might have more than one pc in your office, or you might travel from time to time. For those who have not investigated this marketplace in a while I know you would be surprised at how far these products have come to assist recruiters in any recruiting discipline to find the candidates they have more efficiently, streamline communications, organize their workflow, share information with other recruiters, and a dizzying array of add-ons. If you are not using one … take a few minutes out of your busy day and get one.

The Big Boards – One might assume due to the nature of my job that I don’t care for these services, which would be incorrect. Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, Dice, and the others … you will never (or rarely) hear me say a bad word about these services. First off, as a group, they are one of the biggest supporters of our industry. They sponsor almost every major event we are involved in and I will always be grateful to them for that. Sponsorship and support aside, yes, to this day I truly believe there is a place for a membership in the sourcing process of almost every recruiting firm. The big beef is that subscriptions are simply not paying off as much as they once were. That is true but really the same could be said for almost any recruiting or sourcing resource. The market is tight for quality candidates. What you really need to look at is ROI, or Return on Investment. Most smaller recruiting firms probably pay in the neighborhood of $6-$10k per year for these services. With the salaries and fees these days, that equates to less than one placement to pay for the service for the entire year. So, you have to think to yourself – can you make at least one placement per year using one of these services? My guess is yes. If you make more than one, you are way ahead of the game.

Passive Candidate Tools – Talk about a growth industry. It seems I am regularly getting emails touting a new service to help us all find the candidates we desperately need. It is beyond the scope of this piece to recommend or even talk specifically about these services, but I do want to point out that there are differences. Basically, it boils down to two major types. One is what I call name generators and the other is what I call resume generators. Popular services like ZoomInfo and AIRS SourcePoint are name generators. These companies expend vast resources on culling names and associated bios from a wide variety of sources, and then they compile that data into a proprietary database that you can search. Others you may have heard of include Talenthook, InfoGIST, Diver, ResumeFinder … these are products that offer you the ability to conduct what I call “open web searches” for resumes, although they may have the capability to search for names as well. There is no database. There is a big difference between names and resumes. Although both are raw leads and not bona fide candidates, most recruiters I know love those resumes as they can see the individuals location, work history, education, and learn a bit about them before they attempt contact. The cost for these run anywhere from under $1,000 to many thousands of dollars per year, but all have different features that set them apart from one another. I get many calls per year asking me my recommendations and although I don’t mind the discussions but the bottom line is which one is going to work best for the type of people you are trying to reach. Each of these offers a free trial of some sort and that is the best starting point for any evaluation. Many recruiters are using at least one or more of these.

Do-it-Yourself – There is an ever-increasing number of recruiters today that are taking the time and making the effort to learn how to search for names and resumes on the Internet themselves. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of millions of resumes of passive candidates on the Internet, and there are exponentially more names than that. More and more are added all the time … every day. Yes, it can be tedious and time-consuming. If you don’t have time for it then use one of the tools previously mentioned. It’s the old make/buy dilemma. Using a tool is expensive, but much more efficient from a time standpoint. Doing the searching yourself is less expensive but also less efficient. Even when using the tools you can often get more out of them if you have a basic understanding of the way search engines work, and how search strings are properly constructed. There are many venues out there for recruiters to learn the techniques needed for a productive Internet recruiting session. The good part is it’s not rocket science. Anyone can learn how to do this. It just takes a bit of proper training and a commitment to utilize the techniques you learn.

Social Networks – Sites like MySpace, FaceBook, and Friendster can be treasure troves of leads for candidates, but are surely underutilized. These are free to join and free to search. Many of you would be surprised to know the average age of a MySpace user is in the 35 range. This means there are many users actually older than me, an unusual occurrence. As plentiful as leads may be on these networks they are often difficult to utilize due to the fact that, unlike the business networks the social network users do not often have their names on their home pages. There are workarounds. One is to carefully read each page. Even though a user might not have his or her name on their site, I have noticed on many MySpace profiles there are often internal links to personal websites and/or personal email addresses in the body of the pages. If all else fails, they provide an internal messaging mechanism and you can try and contact your leads that way as well. There are simply too many users on these sites to ignore them as a bona fide sourcing resource.

Business Networks – Another high growth industry. It seems my inbox in often full of invitations for me to join a new network. I do join from time to time but feel enough is enough. I wonder what these newbies can possibly offer in the way of features that can set them apart from the established networks. LinkedIn and Spoke are probably the two best-known business networks. These resources are fast becoming one of the most popular ways to source new candidate leads and although free to join, so many recruiters I talk to are not members, some have never heard of it, and others who are members are not utilizing it to its potential. Even though my LinkedIn for Recruiters class is fairly new, it is already my most popular class, eclipsing my flagship Google class. I mention this as it is indicative of the fact that many recruiters looking for new ways to source candidates are looking to learn more about these networks, as they should.

Niche Sites – I think most of you would be surprised to know how many Internet sites cater to specific types of people … thousands. We call these niche sites. These types of sites should not be overlooked if you specialize in a specific type of recruiting. There are sites that cater to finance/accounting, retail, IT/MIS, those with security clearances, engineers, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. You can find out if there are niche sites for your specialty by searching for them in Google or one of the other search engines. Even though these sites are smaller than the big boards mentioned above, they are not necessarily less expensive. But they are much more targeted to the audience you are trying to reach. Many also double as “portals” providing interesting industry content to their site to entice the professionals in the door. It would be well worth your time and effort to investigate and evaluate services of this type that would cater to whatever specialty you have.

Job Distribution Services – Why post your jobs one by one when you can engage an Internet service to post your jobs to up to thousands of employment related sites with a few clicks. Services like Beyond.com (11,000 sites) and Hirenet.net (4,000 sites), just to name a couple of the dozens of sites available, can offer you vast coverage for your advertising dollar. Pricing varies widely. Simply do a search in Google or another search engine for “job distribution” and you will get back a list of many of these services.

Research – Internet sites like Harris and Hoovers can be invaluable research resources for making more placements. Although they are different than the names databases mentioned earlier in this article, they often do have company contact information, along with key personnel information. You can often use these services as a starting point for further research. They also categorize companies by their SIC codes, something I wish more services would do, so they are excellent sources for competitive intelligence when you are trying to locate competitors to you clients.

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Job Aggregators – These can be very handy sites to know about. If you are ever seeking job order leads for a specific individual or maybe in a given city, visit Indeed.com or SimplyHired.com. These are the two larger and more popular services in this space. One doesn’t actually post jobs to these sites but they spider the major job sites, free employment sites, and employer sites and then use that data to populate their own database of Internet job postings. They also have helpful filters to eliminate unwanted data. They are free for anyone to use.

Researcher – After reading through this article one might wonder how in the world could anyone take full advantage of all the resources mentioned and still have time to do anything else. One way successful recruiters (a/k/a big billers) make more placements is to invest in a full time researcher. I know more than one that has two of them. These are individuals that are well versed in Internet and Telephone technologies that take on internal assignments to source candidate leads, call into companies to obtain marketing leads, locate relevant new items about customers, create lists of competitors, and generally whatever needs to be done to get you closer to closing your next placement.

In closing – you already have the connection to the Internet. Use it but use it wisely. Have a great month.

Tip – Google Maps

Many times when we are sourcing passive candidates on the Internet we get good leads, but many of them don’t have any contact information. This is especially true when we are sourcing from some of the business networks. We can check Google, Zabasearch, WhitePages.com, Switchboard.com, ZoomInfo, and/or some of the other lookup sites but sometimes come up dry. Then, we have to think about calling them at work. Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/) is a great place to look up phone numbers for work locations. Once on the site, click the tab that says “Find Businesses,” then type in the business name and location. Being Google Maps, of course, they give you a map of the location but you really don’t care much about that. Over on the left side of the page are listings that give the main telephone number for the requested business. Put this in your favorites and use it whenever you have a work location but not an email address or home phone number.

Mark E. Berger, C.P.C., AIRS CIR, has been in recruiting and staffing since 1979. He is currently the proprietor of Swat Recruiting (www.swatrecruiting.com), a firm supporting the technology needs of the recruiting and staffing industry. He was an early proponent of using the Internet for candidate sourcing, starting in the early 1990s, and has been heavily involved in Internet recruiting and sourcing since that time. He has become an expert on recruiting and sourcing products and services available to the recruiting industry and also has a high level of expertise in recruiter databases (ATS’s). Mark has authored the Internet Recruiting column appearing monthly in The Fordyce Letter for the last ten years and is a frequent contributor to several recruiting industry publications. Mark is also on the board of directors for the Mid-America Association of Personnel Services.

Mark E. Berger, CPC has been in permanent placement since 1979 and has been a partner in Berger/Nowlin, Inc. since 1997. Previously, he owned M. E. Berger & Associates, a permanent placement firm. He has been heavily involved in internet recruiting since 1996 and has successfully attained the AIRS CIR (Certified Internet Recruiter) designation. He is on the Board of Directors for the Missouri Assn. of Personnel Services and can be reached via email at mark@swatrecruiting.com.

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