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Dear Adecco: Small Business Owner Tips #4 – E-Recruitment Programs

A man selecting candidates via e-recruitment

Call it what you will, “e-recruitment”, “online recruitment”, or “virtual recruitment”, using software that allows you to effectively collect, screen and reach out to potential candidates is a cost-effective way for any small business owner to bring aboard new staff. In this, our fourth installment of Dear Adecco, we take a look at what every small business owner should look for in an e-recruitment program.

Remember: Even though the exchanges in this series are contrived, they address very real concerns that many a small business owner and supervisor thinks about every day.

Also, for more information on e-recruitment, particularly its advantages and disadvantages, please read our previous article on the topic.

Dear Adecco,

I’m looking to add another member to our small team, and being small, we simply don’t have the time to sift through piles of resumes. I’ve heard a lot about other companies in our position using e-recruitment methods, but I’m not sure what features I should be on the lookout for when shopping around for the right software. Are they really as cost-effective and time-saving as people say? And there are so many! Please help!

Dear Lost-In-Cyberspace,

First: the software. There are literally many hundreds of e-recruitment programs out there, so you’re right to feel intimidated about choosing the right one. They are not all created equal. To start, you have to ask yourself whether you want to use a web-based program or a client-server-based one. Web-based programs, or online recruiting tools, are hosted by the supplier, which means the supplier maintains it for you; they store and protect your data and handle all necessary upgrades. Client-server based software, however, is installed onto your server, putting the onus on you to keep it up-to-date and to protect your data. These differences may make it sound as though choosing a web-based option is a no-brainer; after all, client-server-based programs often have more limited sharing capabilities with coworkers and are restricted to being used on whatever computers they’re installed on (whereas web-based programs can be accessed anytime, anywhere, on any computer with internet access). However, it can be argued that, although web-based providers go to great lengths to protect your data, it isn’t worth the risk of handing over your candidate database – valuable company property you don’t want getting into the hands of your competitors – to a third party. Web-based programs are also criticized for being slow in comparison to client-server-based ones. With that said, client-server-based programs tend to be more costly, particularly because they require added hardware and software. So in the end, you’ll probably be more comfortable with a web-based e-recruitment program. And if the slowness factor is an issue for you, it’s important to note that efficiency, not necessarily speed, is what matters most. Ultimately, what makes an e-recruitment program efficient are its features.

That brings us to our next topic: the features you should look for in an e-recruitment program. Some of the features we like include:

  • Email and mail merge functionality

    The ability to easily reach out to your applicants is vital to the success of any e-recruitment campaign, and a built-in email function definitely helps because it means you don’t have to continually switch between programs every time you want to contact someone in your database. Having a built-in mail merge option is also particularly useful when you want to send a mass email informing candidates that they’re moving on in the hiring process or to politely let them know that you’ve decided to move forward with other candidates. Such email functions also make it possible for you to conduct targeted email marketing campaigns to specific candidates.

  • Filtering and search

    Although you’re a small business, sluggish economic times mean you can easily get flooded with applications – and even more of those applications will be from people who are simply looking for a job rather than a job that they really want or can even really do. That means you’re definitely going to want your e-recruitment program to have excellent filtering capabilities. Essentially, you should be able to easily create pre-screening criteria, such as pre-qualifying questions, that each applicant must meet in order to move forward in the application process. The system should automatically disqualify all others. Filtering capabilities may also include what’s called a resume parser, where you can paste the entire contents of an applicant’s resume into a field that then highlights only the most crucial information, such as education, contact info, years of experience, etc. You’ll also want to make sure the program has a functioning, accurate search tool so you can call up whatever information comes to mind when you need it.

  • Other useful features

    There are myriad other features that, based on your business, you may want to shop around for. For instance, if your website already has an online job application feature, you’ll want to ensure that the program you choose has the ability to integrate the information your site collects. Some programs even offer you the option of making what is essentially a separate careers website that mimics the look of your actual website, creating a seamless user experience for applicants. There are even programs that offer built-in compliance technology to help ensure you’re in line with the law.

In addition to the features above, make sure that the program you choose can be implemented quickly and easily. Some client-server-based programs, for instance, can actually take months to be properly implemented. Most importantly, make sure the program is user-friendly. A program may have a ton of useful-sounding features, but if they take forever to access and learn how to use, what good are they? Thankfully, most e-recruitment programs, be they web-based or client-server-based, have free trial versions you can test out – and doing so is always recommended. If a program doesn’t have a trial version available, steer clear; there are way more fish in the sea.

Finally, consider spicing up the resume review process, as well as the resume creation process for candidates, by leveraging unconventional employment history sharing tools, such as Resu-ME, which allows each candidate to convert their LinkedIn profile into a customized video about themselves. These videos not only make time fly when reviewing applicants, but they also provide you with some insight into the problem-solving skills, attention-to-detail, and creativity each applicant brings to the table.

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