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How Sharp are Your Tools?

Top Echelon Network is located in Canton, Ohio, and is very close to the world’s largest community of Amish people. I am fortunate in that I am able to spend a considerable amount of time in the various communities and witness one of the most amazing things that a person can witness: an Amish barn raising. In the period of one day, a barn can be built from the foundation up and be completely built by dinnertime. It is an amazing accomplishment that can only be completed with the right people, careful planning and great tools. If you ever have the chance to see this, it is worth every minute.

The key to a barn raising, like recruiting, is having knowledgeable people working with quality tools. In fact, the first thing any Amish carpenter does every day is sharpen and prepare his tools. By having the right tool for the right job and knowing how to use that tool, the Amish carpenter is able to maximize his effectiveness to the point of completing in a day what it takes others many weeks to finish.

When it comes to Internet recruiting tools, the same methodology should be applied. The key to success and return on your investment is assembling the correct set of tools for your firm and then using each tool as effectively as possible. Instead of searching for one tool that will revolutionize how you recruit, assemble a toolbox full of specific tools that each perform a specific task well.

While I am certainly not the first person to suggest building an Internet recruiting toolbox, I like to think that I can offer some new perspective to recruiters when it comes to choosing the right tools. I have listed below a few of the broad categories of tools that are available and some of the benefits of those tools.

Job Posting—posting your available job orders to Internet employment sites is a great source of candidates, if it is done correctly. Posting your job orders successfully requires knowledge of the niche-specific and locally-focused employment centers that will generate qualified leads and not time-wasting “tire kicking” candidates. The problem is there are over 40,000 Internet job boards already and there seems to be no end in sight to the increasing number of sites. It is impossible for a recruiter to know about each and every site, to maintain an active account with each, and to track the results of their postings. Instead of trying to do this on your own, find a job posting company that will do it for you. There are a number of tools available that allow you to enter your job information one time and then have that job distributed to only those sites that will generate qualified leads. I suggest using one of these tools to outsource the management of your job postings. Be careful when choosing that tool; choose one that focuses your postings rather than just arbitrarily spraying them all over the Internet. The focus is what you are paying for because it will ultimately save you time and effort.

Company Research—the days of going to the library to research potential clients are gone. There are many free resources available online as well as fee-based tools. These tools allow you to search a specific industry, a specific discipline, a geographic region, etc. You can narrow your results quickly and easily, then read about the company, their financial position, and key members of the management team. It is very easy to build a call list based on these online tools. Some examples of good Internet resources include www.hoovers.com, www.dnb.com, and www.thomasregister.com

Candidate Databases—There are thousands of Internet sites that have candidate databases. These databases have different levels of value in my mind based on how many resumes are available, who has access to the resumes, how old the resumes are, etc. Each recruiter I have talked with seems to have their own preference as to which database they use, if any. The value is in the ability to quickly perform searches for very specific candidates, and then to source from those results to find the truly A+ candidate. When evaluating candidate databases, look for those that offer a quality search tool and automatic search agents. You should be able to enter very specific criteria and be notified when matching candidates enter the database.

Candidate Sourcing—While not technically a tool, sourcing from the Internet is a very important task that must be performed by recruiters wishing to maximize the number of placeable candidates found using Internet tools. Think about it this way: you post your job orders to an Internet site and get responses. Those are the active job seekers who respond to job ads. Chances are they have already answered many companies’ ads directly and these candidates may not be as valuable as others; but don’t ignore them, find out who they know that would be good for the job or other jobs you are working on. Turn the $100 you spent on a job posting into a list of valuable and placeable candidates by sourcing off your respondents. Similarly, you are probably paying for access to your Internet candidate databases. Candidates in those databases are probably known to many other recruiters and possibly to your client so again, find who they know and expand your results. To do this you will have to get on the phone!

Resume Spiders, Snakes, and Bots—these creepy crawlers seek out hidden resumes from all the furthest corners of the Internet. If you truly have a need to have hundreds or thousands of candidates at your fingertips, a resume spider can help you by automatically finding resumes that you or a researcher would have to go find manually. Or, if you need very specific candidates, a resume robot could help. Beware that you don’t set your expectations too high as spiders can only find resumes that have been placed on the Internet and those are the same resumes your clients and other recruiters can find.

Website—your firm’s Web site is perhaps the best tool you can have. There are many specific things you can include on your site that will ultimately help your firm. There have been many articles written about what a recruiting Web site should do so I won’t belabor the issue here, but at the very least your firm’s site should do the following:

  • Allow job seekers to search your open job orders
  • Accept resumes submitted online
  • Facilitate communication
  • Allow employers to submit job orders to you online
  • Provide contact information for your firm
  • Explain your focus, specialties, and experience

Candidate Communication—the obvious way to save time and money using the Internet is to communicate with your clients and candidates via email. When done correctly this can help you manage many more candidates simultaneously than if you had to talk with each one on the phone. However, once you start the communications process, you create expectations that must be fulfilled or your image will be tainted. You have to follow through. Be careful that you don’t abandon your traditional recruiting processes and the telephone in favor of the quick and easy email.

Placement Networks—these companies offer many of the tools you need for your toolbox under one umbrella. In my opinion this is the best way to maximize your return on a minimum investment. A good placement network will provide you with a job posting tool, candidate databases, networking, support, and much more, usually for a very reasonable fee. If you are looking to fill your toolbox with quality tools quickly and without having to research hundreds of competing products a placement network is probably for you. Typically all the tools offered by a placement network will be integrated and work together providing you with further benefit.

This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of the myriad of Internet recruiting tools available but it should give you a place to start. In my opinion the best possible way for a recruiting firm to maximize its return on the time and money invested in Internet recruiting tools is to abandon the idea that there is one tool that will revolutionize the process. Instead, recruiting firms should focus on creating a set of tools that individually perform a specific task and when taken in the aggregate provide efficiency, cost savings, performance gains, and return on investment. Choose your tools, learn how to use them, and keep them sharp. In the long run, if incorporated into the overall recruiting process, your tools will serve you well.

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