E-Recruiting Software Streamlines Hunt for Skilled Employees

E-Recruiting Software Streamlines Hunt for Skilled Employees

Ted Koska noticed in 1993 that the pool of candidates for Washington state government jobs was shrinking, especially at the executive level. By 1995, he realized there would be a definite shortage.

"We needed a way to speed up the [recruiting] process and operate as fast as and probably better than private-sector outfits," said Koska, manager of Executive Search Services for the Washington State Department of Personnel.

In 1994, Koska started moving some recruiting processes online. In 1998, Executive Search Services invested in
e-recruiting software from Personic Inc. of Brisbane, Calif. It made Koska's staff the first to employ a fully electronic recruiting method in Washington state government.

"It's a collaborative, real-time process. That's what's exciting about it," said Barry Prokop, director of public-sector business for Personic in Fairfax, Va.

Personic and IT consulting giant Accenture Ltd. of Hamilton, Bermuda, inked a marketing deal in March that is likely to bring Personic more business, Prokop said. The company's other government clients include the state of Nebraska and the University of Maryland.

"They've got a lot of experience in federal and state and local government and education that we can leverage. Especially for large deals, [Accenture is] going to be able to bring in its expertise to help us in the overall implementation," Prokop said.

Personic's e-recruiting software allows users to post job openings on multiple Web sites, accept applications in various formats, schedule interviews, scan resumes for key words and incorporate information, such as pre-interview questions, into candidate rankings.

"Everything we do for a search is in one neat place," Koska said. Personic can tell him everything from the number of applicants and the hiring authority to recruiters' assessments of the candidates' qualifications, the interviewers and interview questions, how the interview went and who was offered the job.

It took Koska's search group less than a year to recoup the $55,000 cost of the Personic software, far less than the three years he predicted.

Companies such as Personic "are showing how streamlining the [recruiting] process and using online resources to find candidates is cheaper than traditional methods, such as recruiting agencies that charge 20 percent to 30 percent of the candidate's starting salary," said Christopher Boone, an e-recruiting analyst with International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass.

The real benefit, Boone said, is that e-recruiting solutions help companies track their hiring processes and identify problems. As Koska said, "By the time we get to the end of a case, there is a complete map of what we did and how we did it, the mistakes we made, where we advertised and a list of people who applied for that position. Once we have completed a case, it is simple to go back and recreate it."

In June 2000, IDC created an e-recruiting research program to reflect increasing interest among businesses, the public and information technology vendors. An IDC survey found last year that 25 percent of U.S. Internet users have visited an
e-recruiting Web site, a statistic IDC called "astounding," given the newness of the medium.

Other companies pursuing this space include MagnaWare Inc., HotJobs.com, Recruitsoft Inc. and Webhire Inc. IDC predicts the market for e-recruiting services will reach $4.6 billion by 2004, up from $474 million in 1999.

Employers' widespread practice of posting jobs on Web sites, such as Dice.com, Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, is driving growth in e-recruiting, Boone said, but vendors such as Personic have also identified a market for end-to-end services.

Even so, "we're challenged to find someone who does everything from start to finish," Boone said. "A lot of [companies] are focusing around the first half of the process, preparing and posting jobs, identifying candidates."

Consultant Michael Neece cautioned that companies sometimes say they offer a complete solution, but in reality they can't handle everything from advertising to hiring.

"Companies look to automate what the recruiters do," he said. "That's only 20 percent of the problem. The other 80 percent is automating the administrative tasks done by hiring managers, interviewers and recruiters, from the very start to the very end."

Applicant tracking systems, for example, store resumes electronically and track the status of candidates, but in many cases, hiring managers still receive paper resumes, Neece said. Oftentimes, the resumes get misplaced, leaving managers scrambling before interviews.

"They should be two clicks away from that information," said Neece, whose now-defunct start-up company was developing an e-recruiting solution. When its venture capital dried up, Neece returned to advising companies, such as Lucent Technologies Inc., on improving their hiring processes.

Resume tracking services, however, do provide substantial benefits to many users.

At Anteon Corp., a 5,000-employee IT solutions provider in Fairfax, Va., the RezPrize system by MagnaWare Inc. of Santa Cruz, Calif., has improved time-to-hire by a couple of weeks, and has provided companywide access to resumes, said Pat Dawson, senior vice president for administration. Dawson expects the firm will receive 20,000 resumes this year.

Previously, an unqualified applicant might be suited for another position, but recruiters would not know that. Now all resumes go into the database, where they can be matched to multiple openings and e-mailed to hiring managers.

"Once you get [the resume] into the hands of the hiring manager, they can do a phone interview, arrange an interview and close the deal," Dawson said. "This was a real Achilles heel for us. All that paperwork was floating around and not getting distributed."

Washington's Koska said he hopes that next year he'll be able to offer Personic's software as a true end-to-end solution to hiring managers and interviewers in state agencies. Right now, some offices' computer platforms aren't compatible, so only recruiters from his office use the system.

Neece, president of Caseridus Inc. in Hopkinton, Mass., also said technology isn't always the answer. He increased the speed of hiring at Lucent by 37 percent in two months by changing the interviewing and hiring processes of managers and interviewers without using any software.

"Technology is not going to make your problems go away," he said.

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