Myth dispelled: Executives actually search for jobs online (Guest commentary)

Using the Internet as a tool to recruit senior-level executives

The popular myth that experienced candidates are not seeking jobs online couldn’t be further from the truth. Even in the early years of Internet adoption, the executive-level was well represented online — a Taleo Research survey from 2001 reported that almost half of career website visitors were seeking mid-to-senior-level positions.

Canada has one of the fastest growing Internet adoption rates in the world. According to Internet World Stats, there were more than 21 million Internet users in Canada in 2006. That’s 67.5 per cent of the country’s population. Further to that point, a recent Workopolis survey reveals 40 per cent of professionals now visit web-based career sites at least once a month.

Leveraging the corporate careers website is one of the most effective ways to attract senior-level executives.

Evaluating the executive recruiting strategy

Employers should recognize the tremendous reach, cost-effectiveness and high efficiency levels of using the Internet as a tool to recruit senior-level executives. The increasing popularity of specialized executive-focused job boards, networking websites and, most importantly, robust corporate careers websites are now the norm for finding top talent.

Employers should also keep in mind that a new generation of professionals is coming of age — they’re younger, more astute and moving into executive level management positions faster than their predecessors. They’re also more apt to use the Internet for job searching. In 2005, Statistics Canada found 85 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 44 used the Internet, compared to only 50 per cent of those 45 and older.

Building a better website to attract executive-level candidates

It is clear, then, that an organization’s corporate careers website can be a broad-reaching and central component of the corporate recruiting strategy. It must provide a pleasing experience to visitors and an efficient interface for the corporation’s back-end recruiting process. Online recruiters can use the greater interactivity of the web to extract the pertinent information they require from candidates to make faster hiring decisions. This involves asking direct questions about the match between candidates’ skills and the requirements of the position.

Some of Canada’s leading brands are already taking advantage of the power of their corporate careers websites. For example, in a snapshot view, telecommunications firm Telus had 17 senior-level, management and director-level career opportunities available on its corporate careers website, while retailer Canadian Tire had seven posted. These websites also have options to search for career opportunities by experience level, making it easier for senior- and executive-level candidates to search for specific opportunities.

Showcasing the organization’s culture

It’s important to build the corporate careers website so executive candidates can find the information they want faster. In addition to actual career opportunities, this could also include information about the corporate culture, benefits, the organization’s strength and recent successes.

In a job market where qualified candidates may have the luxury of a choice between several competing companies, candidates are looking for fit just as much as employers. The corporate careers section is yet another opportunity to reinforce a company’s employment brand and culture. Virtual tours, “day in the life” narratives and profiles of both key management positions and of typical employees convey to online jobseekers a sense of the work atmosphere and corporate culture.

Job culture is an extremely important consideration in assessing fit and has tremendous impact on employee retention. Incorporating testimonials from company executives to entice potential executive-level candidates to join the team could prove to be a beneficial tactic for employers.

Finally, it is also important to note that some candidates, particularly senior-level executives, are concerned about their online privacy. They may be interested in exploring opportunities with a company, yet want to protect their identity until later in the process (often due to concerns about their current employer’s reaction). As a result, organizations need to accommodate them by accepting anonymous applications to increase the candidate capture rate.

Putting it all into perspective

It’s no surprise the Internet is fast becoming the method of choice for jobseekers. Since so many executive-level candidates are actively using the web to search for new career opportunities, employers have the opportunity to re-evaluate their recruiting strategy and maximize their corporate careers websites to attract senior-level candidates.

The Internet’s ability to attract and support virtual communities provides a strategy for supporting the interests and aspirations of working professionals and, concurrently, a way of nurturing the long-term relationships necessary to recruit them. By offering a blend of engaging content and interactivity on the corporate website, an employer can equip executive-level candidates with the information they need to make a fully informed decision about pursuing a career with the company.

Alice Snell is vice president of Taleo Research, a firm that focuses on critical issues and key trends in talent management that impact organizational performance. For more information visit

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