Canadian gov’t job boards lag on best practices

The Canadian public-sector has embraced e-recruiting but is not doing as good a job as private employers, says new research.

The public sector trails the private sector by about a year in adopting of career Web site best practices, said Yves Lermusiaux, president of iLogos Research, the firm which recently released Best Practices for Canadian Government Careers Website Recruiting, a study of government job boards.

“There are lots of reasons, but I would say the most important reason is that usually the government is a little bit slower to react. But overall it isn’t bad, I think the governments are getting there, they are improving,” he said.

“I think there is a commitment but there is always a lag in getting things accomplished (in the public sector). And probably the urgency level is not as strong. The private sector is typically driven by margins, so cost saving is very important and one of the consequences of going online is that there is cost saving there,” he added.

The government is facing a staffing crunch and can profit from some of the lessons learned in the private sector, said Lermusiaux.

Using the Web to attract candidates can be more cost effective but it can also be a mixed blessing if it is not done right, said Lermusiaux.

Merely having a job site where people can apply for work isn’t enough. For example, online job postings typically deliver a high volume of applications. “Governments will need systems and processes to handle this high candidate volume efficiently while still finding quality candidates,” says the report.

The private sector already knows this. The Internet can be a great way to attract resumes, but to be truly effective, an organization needs to invest in the tools that will screen resumes. Some candidates can be weeded out just by answering a few basic questions, said Lermusiaux.

The study authors concluded that Canadian governments can do more on their Web sites to convey a progressive employment brand to candidates. The Web sites should be more user friendly and have fewer barriers to applying online. Improvements can also be made to ensure the right information is being received from candidates. “Greater efficiencies in handling candidate data will be realized if the recruiter is able to pull from the candidates the information needed, rather than the candidate pushing general information to the recruiter,” says the report.

iLogos has identified three best practice areas for career Web sites and studied the 14 Canadian government (federal, provincial and territorial) job sites to see how much those best practices were being used.

The first best practice is simply attracting people to the site:

•79 per cent of government Web sites have a one-click link from the home page to the career page;

•29 per cent of government career sites let candidates search the list of available positions; and

•21 per cent allow applicants to submit profiles which are used for automatic notification via e-mail when jobs open up.

The second best practice is functionality, to convince people of the advantages of working at the organization:

•50 per cent of sites studied have information about culture;

•21 per cent publish information about employee benefits; and

•64 per cent have taken action to specifically address college recruiting.

The last best practice is capturing candidate information:

•64 per cent of career sites require only one click to move from the job description to the actual application process;

•29 per cent automatically track the reference number of the position being applied for by the candidate; and

•seven per cent enable candidates to reuse their information.

The Internet has fundamentally altered recruitment and changes continue to evolve, said Lermusiaux. Forward thinking organizations are embracing a candidate relationship management model to create a pool of candidates they can tap into any time a position opens up. The goal is to create and sustain long-term relationships with targeted candidates. Five years ago when HR needed to find someone it put an ad in the paper. Today it’s possible just to go to a database that contains a list of candidates who have already expressed in an interest in the organization, he said.

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