cover illustratione-Recruitment
Practices and trends in Ireland

Reilly P, Barber L
Public Appointments Service, Ireland, August 2006

research with the Research Advisory Panel of the Irish Public Appointments Service

Despite the rapid growth in the use of e-recruitment methods and technologies in recent years, there has been little research looking at the practices of Irish organisations in this area. This report focuses on the practices and experiences of Irish employers in relation to e-recruitment, and encompasses public and private sector perspectives in addition to making international comparisons where appropriate. By gaining an understanding of the advantages and challenges associated with the different approaches that are available and being used, a better understanding can be reached on how to optimise the use of e-recruitment systems in Ireland.

The main aims of this research were to:

  • establish the overall trends in e-recruitment use and practice in Ireland
  • identify what e-recruitment methods are being used, and what the experiences are of organisations trying to implement e-recruitment
  • establish how organisations are evaluating their e-recruitment initiatives, and establish the level of success being experienced.

There were several key strands to this project, including a survey of a broad sample of Irish organisations to establish the extent to which e-recruitment was being used, and a series of meetings with case study organisations in order to gather more in-depth information on the approaches implemented and the impact of introducing e-recruitment.

In addition, interviews were held with a number of e-recruitment technology vendors to obtain information on the web-enabled products/solutions they provide, and on their views on likely future developments in this area.

A review of e-recruitment in other countries was also carried out in order to compare the findings from this study, with what is happening in an international context.

The research is aimed at HR practitioners or others involved in implementing e-recruitment, and is likely to be of interest to practitioners new to the area, as well as those already experienced in using e-recruitment methods. In addition to highlighting the key trends in the current use of e-recruitment in Ireland, a discussion of likely future developments in the area is also provided.

Trends in e-recruitment

The recruitment landscape both internationally and in Ireland has changed significantly in recent years. Online recruitment has now become a significant part of the recruitment strategy for a wide range of organisations world-wide, in addition to becoming an increasingly popular method for job-seekers in searching and applying for jobs.

Figure 1: Typical processes involved in recruiting staff

processes in recruiting staff

Source: IES, 2005

Figure 1 illustrates the typical processes involved in recruiting staff. The Internet can be used to facilitate any or all of the main processes of: attraction (advertising/recruiting), selection and assessment (screening and testing), and on-boarding (offering and closing, induction). In addition, e-recruitment can be used, in parallel, to support applicant tracking and workflow systems.

E-recruitment in the Irish context

The findings of the research show that the use of e-recruitment in Ireland is broadly on a par with what is happening in the UK and North America, although it appears to be less advanced in some areas, in particular in relation to the use of the Internet for selection testing.

Online recruitment is an important part of the recruitment strategy for a large majority of the Irish organisations surveyed. A significant proportion of Irish organisations are using the Internet to facilitate the recruitment process in some way, but many are using e-enabled processes alongside traditional methods rather than relying solely on e-recruitment.

The most significant progress has been made in using online methodologies at the front end of the recruitment process, in terms of advertising posts and receiving application forms. Increasing numbers of Irish organisations are also using Internet-based technology to track applications and communicate with and manage relationships with applicants.

The use of online tools for screening and assessing candidates is less prevalent among Irish organisations, but there is evidence that this practice is set to grow in the future, and that this facility will become increasingly valuable to organisations as greater use of online advertising attracts larger numbers of applications.

Table 1, below, summarises how the survey respondents currently use or plan to use the internet for a range of recruitment activities.

Table 1: Activities/processes undertaken online (n=83)

 % Use% Plan
to implement
% No plans
1. Describe and advertise vacancies online8866
2. Post jobs on free internet job boards43849
3. Have dedicated recruitment website/page671717
4. Post jobs on recruitment agency sites44651
5. Respond to requests for further info online611128
6. Track sources of online applications351847
7. Build database for future vacancies281359
8. Applications completed online342541
9. Offer online self selection exercises101278
10. Initial screen on qualifications online241660
11. Initial screen competencies online131371
12. Use personality tests at initial screen7687
13. Use online test at assessment stage3789
14. Invite candidates to interview online251361
15. Notify non-selected candidates online271360
16. Make job offers online10980
17. Give feedback to non-selected candidates online12880
18 Report on the diversity profile of candidates9289
19. Seek candidate feedback online8092

Drivers and benefits for introducing e-recruitment

Irish organisations that have implemented e-recruitment methodologies have done so for a number of reasons, most notably:

  • to reduce costs
  • increase the efficiency of the process
  • reduce time to hire
  • provide access to a larger and more diverse candidate pool.

The most notable benefits reported by organisations having introduced e-recruitment are the cost savings, which have mainly been due to reduced advertising costs, a reduction in the resources required to process applications, and a reduction in recruitment agency costs.

Other substantial benefits include more efficient management of communication with candidates, and the ability to easily report on key performance metrics as a result of Internet-based tracking systems.

Challenges associated with e-recruitment

The challenges faced by Irish organisations in implementing e-recruitment have included problems with the technology and difficulties in tailoring e-recruitment systems to meet the particular needs of their recruitment process. Other challenges have included problems with having to simultaneously operate both online and offline systems, and a lack of integration of e-recruitment systems and existing HR systems.

A traditional concern with e-recruitment was in relation to its acceptability to a broad range of applicants. This appears to be becoming much less of an issue, as more and more applicants are using the Internet as part of their job search process. In fact, there is significant evidence to suggest that the Internet is the preferred application method for a large majority of candidates. Nevertheless, many organisations involved in this research showed concern in relation to candidate access and perceptions, and are designing their online processes to be as candidate-friendly as possible, in addition to accepting applications, in some cases, by other methods.

The future of e-recruitment

The report clearly shows that online recruitment has established itself as a significant part of the recruitment strategy and practices of a wide range of organisations operating in Ireland. In an increasingly competitive recruitment market, it is critical that organisations maximise their use of the Internet in the recruitment process, or risk losing out on quality applicants as the Internet becomes the standard job search and application medium for job seekers.

The report identifies a growth in the use of online systems to track and manage candidate applications, especially for larger organisations, where there will be significant benefits in terms of efficiency, cost, and capability to monitor and report on recruitment activities. It also identifies significant potential for relevant and objective online screening and assessment tools to add value in terms of matching the competencies and skills of the job applicant with the requirements of the organisation in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

The findings of the research would suggest that organisations need to examine and challenge their existing processes and strategy in an effort to identify the barriers to attracting and recruiting the best talent in a timely, customer-friendly and resource-efficient manner.

The report highlights a number of key areas that organisations should consider to ensure successful implementation of an e-recruitment strategy, including:

  • building knowledge and understanding of the technology options available
  • ensuring candidate- and user-friendly interfaces on their systems
  • understanding Internet access and proficiency levels amongst target groups
  • the importance of integrating online and offline systems.

This report provides a new benchmark on practices and trends in e-recruitment in the Irish market. It provides organisations with an indication of how advanced/developed their e-recruitment practices are in relation to other organisations, and will help identify where their e-recruitment strategy needs to be further developed to enable them to attract and recruit the best candidates in the most efficient manner possible.

e-Recruitment: Practices and trends in Ireland, Reilly P, Barber L. , Public Appointments Service, Ireland, 2006.
ISBN: 978-0-95505-402-0. PDF Download only: £free

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