Recruiting portals take centre stage in play for talent

In today’s talent-driven marketplace, the Web-based corporate recruiting portal is rapidly taking centre stage as the most important element in the ongoing quest to find, recruit and retain top-notch talent. The recruiting portal offers all organizations a new and complete environment in which to manage the entire human resources supply chain.

Recruiting portals become the tool by which HR can demonstrate its value. Residing on the company’s Web site as the “careers page”, the portal becomes the hub for recruiting activity, acting as a talent magnet for applicants and as a streamlined end-to-end hiring management system for the organization. The recruiting portal concept provides a single platform for recruiting, which also makes it easier for HR to manage the recruiting process. All offline and online recruiting tactics should drive talent to their career site. The site helps to promote the corporate brand, educate the applicant about the company and ensure that the company can capture the data within their portal.

Recruiting portals leverage the Internet, and its ability to connect people. They increase recruiting success and streamline the process by driving all applicants to one place — the corporate career site.

The recruiting portal is not a case of technology for technology’s sake, but a tool that speeds the recruiting process. It is an end-to-end system that moves through the process from attraction, to selection, to hire. This allows the enterprise to filter and screen applicants, and get face-to-face with the quality candidates faster so that they can compete for their services and bring them into the organization.

While the Internet has caused a dramatic shift in the way organizations recruit talent, the same phenomenon has also transferred control of the recruitment marketplace into the hands of the candidates. Because talent is in demand, job candidates can call the shots on where they want to work, and they are evaluating companies of all sizes more strategically than ever before. Individuals are now screening companies as much as companies are screening the individuals. By some estimates, one out of every 15 Canadians use the Internet to look for work. While in the past, use of the Internet for job searching may have been the domain of the IT professional, this is no longer the case. The Internet has become a platform that talent, from every industry, utilize for their job search.

With this in mind, organizations must deploy recruiting strategies that engage job seekers in an imaginative and seamless fashion. Today’s job seeker expects a professional, easy-to-use career site, and a fast, well-organized recruiting process. The corporate Web site is an immediate reflection of the corporate culture and capability of the organization. They are not interested in an organization that is on the trailing edge of recruiting technology. (Think about it — what does that say about the rest of the enterprise’s use of technology?)

Richly constructed, well-connected portals assist with the quick and efficient selection and hiring of talent, substantially reducing the cost to hire and cost of vacancy within an organization. The cost of vacancy has become of vital importance — think of the impact on revenues and productivity because of open positions. The cost to the enterprise can be monumental. This is an area where the human resources department can play a strategic role in affecting bottom-line results. Organizations are starting to wake up to the importance of carefully managing their human capital.

From a candidate’s sourcing and selection perspective, a corporate recruiting portal acts as an organization’s Web and intranet presence. It serves as an important link to job boards and news groups where open positions are advertised. Today’s effective recruiting portal will also have candidate testing and profiling capabilities and offer interested candidates an electronic means to stay in touch with the organization. Behind the scenes, the powerful workflow engine will help corporate recruiters efficiently move candidates through the recruiting process. The faster the positions are filled by qualified talent, the more HR is able to mitigate the effects of cost of vacancy, thus having a significant effect on a company’s bottom-line results.

As much as the career page is the recruitment face of your organization to the external world, it is equally important that the portal be focused inwardly as an essential portion of the company’s intranet. It is counterproductive to have a robust recruiting portal, while not recognizing the importance of maintaining the same quality of program within the organization. Your own organization, especially if it is a large one, is often your best source of talent. The intranet site can have an impact on retention of existing employees. As one executive of a major technology company recently observed about the need for an intranet recruiting portal focused on their own people, “everyone is raiding our employees, so we figured why don’t we.”

There is a key communications and collaboration component to recruiting portals. Not only do they allow the company to keep in touch with applicants, but corporate recruiters can share files internally and communicate with hiring managers, agencies and other key contacts.

This ensures a collaborative approach to hiring, a single source for information on candidates, and a faster and more efficient solution that empowers the company to take control of the hiring process.

New e-communications technologies will soon make it possible to electronically observe a candidate surfing your recruiting portal and to react to them online. For example, if a candidate surfing the portal investigates a particularly hard-to-hire job opening, the technology will allow for messages to be automatically sent to the candidate’s computer screen. The message could give the candidate a set of options for further actions related to that job.

Conversely, the new capabilities embedded in the recruiting portal will bring candidate selection into your immediate workflow. For example, it will be possible to be automatically informed of any candidate who scores higher than 70 per cent on an online skills test or examination. Knowing this fact early and getting in touch with the candidate more quickly gives a recruiter a competitive hiring advantage.

Today’s recruitment portal is moving quickly from a point where e-mail communication with a candidate was the highest level of functionality, to a new level where enhanced communications including voice calls in real-time and even real-time video exchanges with candidates will soon be readily available. The move by various providers in the human resource industry to an XML-based standard architecture will also further enhance the use and reach of recruiting portals. XML standards will greatly reduce the cost to all businesses of exchanging relevant information and improving communications among employers, their employees, their applicants, and the systems that support them.

Corporate recruiting portals are helping to propel HR departments toward a more strategic role within their organizations. Besides automating communications, over time databases can be built from which reports can be extracted or research conducted on key facets of your recruiting process, allowing you to improve hiring performance and show strategic value within your organization.

Clearly, the Internet is transforming the recruiting marketplace. It is the new platform of competition for talent. The objectives are the same for everyone involved: finding and attracting the right candidates; selecting and hiring the top talent quickly; reducing the cost to hire and cost of vacancy. The Internet does not make recruiting about technology — recruiting is still about talented people. Recruiting portals allow companies to re-focus their processes, becoming more about finding the right people and hiring them. The objectives may be the same, but organizations that can maximize their Internet efficiency through the use of recruiting portals stand a far better chance of winning the ultimate prize — new talent leading to greater revenue generation and competitive advantage.

Gerry Stanton, president and CEO of Inc, can be reached at [email protected]

Tips on how to check your next candidate

Do not ask questions pertaining to sex, race, religion, national origin, age or physical disability.

Begin by checking the candidate’s education background. Studies indicate education is the most common area where an applicant will fabricate on his/her résumé.

Check a minimum of three references per candidate. For senior level positions, obtain the “360 degree” perspective from each employer. Speak with a supervisor, peer and subordinate.

Establish the credibility of the individual who is providing the reference. Is the reference a supervisor, indirect supervisor, peer, subordinate or friend? Be specific, ask the individual how long he/she worked with the candidate.

Attempt to speak with the candidate’s direct supervisors. In most cases, immediate supervisors are best able to evaluate the potential employee’s skills.

Ask open-ended questions. Listen for inconsistencies, contradictions, and pauses in the conversation. Ask for specific examples. When there are negative references, obtain the complete story. Check with secondary and third sources to clarify negative references.

Ask the reference for the candidate’s weaknesses/areas of improvement.

Always ask, “Are there any concerns or performance issues that a potential employer should be aware of?”

Source: INFOCHECK Ltd., (416) 961-1611 or

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