Job Hunting

Hire Power

Even if you're not looking for a job, a job may be looking for you.
Karen M. KrollFebruary 24, 2006

Online job postings may be old hat, but as the market for qualified finance staffers tightens, companies are using the Web in new ways. The goal now is to not just streamline what has long been an arduous manual recruiting process, but to actively court people with the right skills — even if they aren’t necessarily looking for a new job.

If they are looking, conditions are certainly in their favor. Steve Pogorzelski, group president, international, at Monster Worldwide Inc., says that the company’s index of finance and accounting positions shot up by 46 points between November 2004 and November 2005, substantially outpacing the index’s overall 32-point gain. The emphasis on corporate governance has boosted demand for auditors and experts in “technical accounting,” or the application of regulations to transactions, says Charles B. Eldridge, Atlanta-based leader of the financial officers practice at search firm Korn/Ferry International.

Many recruiters are focusing on “passive” job seekers, or individuals who aren’t actively looking for a new job but may be open to the right offer. Last year, online service Jobster Inc. began offering a new service that allows employers and recruiters to create online campaigns and then E-mail them to potential candidates, who in turn are encouraged to forward the E-mails to others who might be interested. By concocting appealing messages and disseminating them via social networks, companies hope to get the attention of people who might be willing to respond to a pitch even if they haven’t polished up their résumés recently.

Companies are also taking a fresh look at their own Websites. While posting available jobs has been a common practice for some time, many companies are transforming that portion of their Websites from a mere listing to a full-on branding campaign in which they tout the many employment advantages they offer and encourage people to apply even if no current openings seem to match their skills.

Kent Kirch, global director of recruitment at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, says that the company’s own Website “is the base for most of our recruiting efforts.” The site gets an average of 350,000 hits per month. Among other topics, the career section of Deloitte’s site describes opportunities for additional education and the company’s “Women’s Initiative,” which promotes a work environment that appeals to women.

To drive traffic, Deloitte doesn’t just post messages on job sites, it also purchases keywords on different search Websites so that a person searching on terms such as audit or tax will see a link to the company’s career page come up. Another tactic is the use of banner ads on business Websites: in November, about 17,000 individuals clicked on such an ad on a single site and were taken to the career section of Deloitte’s Website, Kirch says.

The company may not stop there. A more proactive approach looms in the form of Web crawlers, or search agents, which scour publicly available documents based on certain keywords. For instance, a crawler might search articles containing the words accountant, manufacturing, and audit, and uncover the name of a CPA with experience auditing manufacturing firms. In a sense, that’s a new spin on how executive recruiters have long worked, plumbing specialized sources and otherwise beating the bushes to identify qualified job candidates who can be induced to explore the grass on the other side of the fence.

While Deloitte is using keyword and Web-crawler techniques sparingly right now, “as we learn more about how to use them, we’ll do more with them,” says Kirch. Five years ago, most midlevel hires at Deloitte came by way of contingency search firms. Now they come via the Web. “It’s both faster and more cost-effective,” he says. According to Kirch, “the cost per hire is about half what it was five years ago, thanks in large part to online recruiting.”

Common Recruiting Pitfalls

  • Recruiters reinvent the wheel by spending time surfacing candidates that other recruiters on the team have already identified.
  • Hiring managers fail to participate in the search process despite the likelihood that they know potential candidates in the field.
  • Referral networks, even from multiple sources, tend to turn up only the same group of passive individuals previously identified, due to lack of distinguished sourcing options.
  • Employee referrals are often not followed up on or never reach the actual recruiter’s desk.

Source: The Recruiting Roundtable