Contributed Column

Personnel Points

Recruiting Online

by Dave Mount, Westaff

In 25 years in the personnel business, I have seen many changes in the way we do things.

Our firm first computerized in 1983 — before the “IBM PC” and before there was a standard in operating systems. We ran word processing, some accounting, and the key to the entire system, our search and retrieval system. It was pretty slow, but you never saw those shoe boxes full of applications that we had to thumb through before we got that computer.

Advertising is another area where great change has taken place. In the 1980s, there were pages and pages of classified, help-wanted advertisements in newspapers. The Sunday New York Times and the Boston Globe carried a whole section of jobs, and our own local newspaper would average eight or 10 pages every Sunday. On Tuesdays, The Wall Street Journal ran a special career section filled with employment ads. Your ad would not be read if it was not at least a sixteenth of a page.

After the recession in the early 1990s, the number of employment pages in the newspapers started to shrink rapidly. They were becoming irrelevant as new and more flexible ways to attract employees came into being. “Crawlers” on television stations such as the Weather Channel and community bulletin boards were used to recruit. Radio stations would run recruiting ads — something not done to any extent before 1990.

The biggest change was the Internet. Job boards have become very useful tools, fueled by Monster.com’s Super Bowl advertising a few years ago. They offer most of the advantages of newspapers with amazing flexibility and speed, but you had better know what you are doing or you will be wasting a lot of time and effort, and you will wish you were back in the Stone Age.

There are three principal job boards today: Monster, Career Builder and Hot Jobs. Monster is independent and is probably the largest board; Career Builder is owned by a consortium of newspapers, including Gannett, and Hot Jobs is owned by Yahoo!. The popularity of the three is in the order in which I listed them. Career Builder has surged lately, and Monster is fighting back. Hot Jobs was in danger of becoming an “also-ran” it they signed a big cooperative deal a few weeks ago with several newspapers including Hearst and Scripps.

In addition, there are local job boards in every community. In some places, there is more than one, and our area is one of those places, but eventually, one surfaces as the best in the area and the others slowly die out. One of our local television stations had a job board, but it did not receive much traffic, so it became very specialized.

You need to be very careful when using any job board. Even local boards can run into the same problems that the big three run into, and those problems are the result of the media they are using. They don’t call it the World-Wide Web for nothing. Even my own little company website gets hits from all over the world, and your ad on Monster or a local board will not be any different. Your ad must be worded in such a way as to discourage job seekers from the other side of the globe (unless that’s what you are looking for).

There are some advantages to advertising on the Internet:

1. It is relatively inexpensive. Newspapers hate it when their revenue goes down, so their prices have gone up substantially, even when fewer and fewer people read the classified want-ads.

2. It is focused, unlike newspapers where one size fits all and you pay equally for job seekers and people who only want to read sports. When people log on to Career Builder, they are there to look for — or at least look at — jobs.

3. Web based tools are lightning fast. I have seen instances where we have posted a job and we start to receive responses within five minutes.

4. You control the content, so if you misspell a name or get a number wrong, it is your own fault (but you can fix it quickly).

Good luck and good hunting. •

Dave Mount is the owner of Westaff in Burlington.

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