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E-recruitment: Rethinking recruitment

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An exclusive Personnel Today survey shows that dwindling recruitment spend is being focused on web-based recruitment at the expense of traditional methods. Helen Williams takes a closer look at the figures.
An exclusive survey of more than 400 Personnel Today readers, including HR directors, board level directors and managers, suggests that recruitment budgets and plans have been dramatically scaled back compared to last year, and will continue to be kept on a tight rein over the year ahead.

Nearly half (46%) of respondents to the survey, conducted in conjunction with e-recruitment software and services provider WCN Plc, said that their overall recruitment budget had decreased compared to last year, while nearly a third (32%) had kept their budgets the same. Fewer than one in 10 - just 8% - had increased their recruitment spend this year.

Of those who had cut their recruitment budgets this year compared to last, a quarter (25%) had slashed spending by more than half, while 30% had decreased their budgets by between 21% and 50%.

Recruitment agency budgets have taken the biggest knock, with 48% of respondents reducing their budgets in this area, and 22% sticking to last year`s levels. General advertising spend is also down at 45% of employers surveyed, although 9% of respondents said this has risen this year.

E-recruitment technology enjoyed the most widespread budget increase compared to last year, on the up at 22% of employers that responded, while nearly a third (32%) have kept investment in this area consistent this year, and just 10% are cutting budgets.

"The payback from e-recruitment technology is very quick, so employers are `spending to save`," says Charles Hipps, managing director of WCN Plc. "Savings are achieved not only in recruitment but also in internal mobility and redeployment. As well as savings, speed, quality and diversity are improved."

Employer branding is also receiving a larger slice of the budget this year at 14% of surveyed organisations, while 29% are keeping investment at last year`s levels.

Nearly a quarter (22%) of HR professionals surveyed said internal recruitment team headcounts were down, while 50% said numbers stayed the same compared to last year. Just 5% were increasing headcount in this area.

This gloomy recruitment outlook is reflected in respondents` hiring plans for the year head, with nearly two-thirds (72%) looking to cut jobs or halt recruitment. A quarter (24%) planned to cut jobs, while half (48%) were freezing recruitment for the next 12 months. However, 28% intended to increase their workforce, suggesting that the recruitment market is still active in some areas.

The move from traditional hiring methods such as print advertising and headhunters to online recruitment was starkly illustrated. Recruitment agencies remain reasonably popular, used by 21% of respondents to help recruit for most jobs and by 65% to target some, although 14% never used agencies at all. The average proportion of agency use versus in-house recruitment last year was 40/60 - this has fallen to 25/75 this year.

More than half (53%) of respondents said they never used headhunters, although the balance did use them for some roles. Nearly half (47%) never used national press recruitment advertising, although regional and trade advertising remained more popular, with 74% and 77% respectively using these media for some jobs.

Online methods proved far more popular. Two-thirds (66%) of HR professionals surveyed said the jobs section of their own company websites were used as a recruitment tool for most jobs, while 22% used this to promote some jobs, with just 12% never using this method. Online jobs boards such as totaljobs.com were also popular, used by a third of respondents (32%) for most jobs, and by 42% for some.

The increasing popularity of online recruitment was attributed to a range of factors. The overwhelming majority (86%) of respondents felt that online recruitment is more cost effective than most other recruitment methods, while 40% strongly agreed with this statement. More than 90% felt that online recruitment is easy to use, while only 9% slightly disagreed with this.

Opinion was split nearly 50:50 over whether online recruitment takes more time to administrate, although nearly three-quarters (71%) felt it was more effective that other methods, and more than half (54%) felt it reduced time to hire.

Respondents did not feel strongly that online recruitment improves the overall quality of candidates, but a convincing two-thirds (66%) felt it helps improve the diversity of recruitment, with 11% expressing this view strongly. ....

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