Firms take to online hiring

The internet has revolutionised the way firms recruit staff. New Zealand's top companies are increasingly turning to the web and e-recruitment systems. But there is still some way to go.

The internet has revolutionised the way firms recruit staff.

New Zealand’s top companies are increasingly turning to the web and e-recruitment systems. But there is still some way to go.

Sydney-based Olivier Group last year polled Australia’s top 500 public companies and found that while 93% have websites, only 35% use them to recruit staff.

A look at various websites in New Zealand shows similar patterns, with many organisations still to get round to it.

In September, the New Zealand Army launched what it called one of the country’s “first e-government initiatives”.

Through hosting company esolutions, the forces moved from a traditional paper-based system to an automated web-based format. The old manual recruitment process could take six to 12 weeks, but the army eventually believes it can get this down to a few days.

Sgt Rob Warrender says the system has had “a few glitches”, which he won’t go into, but it has worked well in dealing with six intakes of 100 recruits since the launch.

“The beauty of the database is that we can keep track of applicants. We can search through the applications and bring them in for testing,” Warrender says.

The major telcos both use e-recruitment, with TelstraClear looking to upgrade its system following its recent merger.

Telecom uses a system called Snaphire, with which it advertises vacancies on its website. People can register their interest in working for Telecom, apply for actual vacancies or be alerted when a job of interest turns up. Software from Saville Holdsworth also offers online numerical and psychometric tests for applicants either before or after the interview.

Spokesman Andrew Bristol says the system has saved the telco much money in agency recruitment fees and allowed it more control over its "talent pool".

However, while e-recruitment is used “at all levels” for the company, Bristol admits there are limitations. Agencies and newspaper advertising may be used if, for example, the telco sought a new executive or needed 16 call centre staff tomorrow.

Auckland-based infrastructure systems integrator Maclean Computing says it now uses job boards as recruitment agencies were too expensive. Managing director Alan Maclean says using websites Netcheck and IDG's (publisher of Computerworld and IDGNet) JobUniverse has “slashed the cost” of recruitment from several thousand dollars to one hundred to two hundred dollars.

“We can get all the recruits we need with the odd exception,” he says. However, he admits some specialist roles and his sales positions still need to be found through agencies.

Sealord last week was due to go live with its Adcorp-supplied recruitmanager system to help it hire 400 temporary processing staff for the Hoki season and deep sea fishing staff.

E-recruitment project manager Debbie Jones says in some Hoki seasons, Sealord distributes 1200 forms and receives 500 to 600 applications, which is cumbersome. The new system will let the company keep a database of staff for future recruitment and manage all the communications associated with recruiting.

Since fisherfolk are not noted for using the web, the company sought to chose a simple system. Applicants will also be able to apply using special terminals at the Nelson branch of Work and Income, she says.

The health sector has what it calls a “multiple channels to market” approach.

Mike Rillstone, chief adviser of the NZ Health Information Services, says his department places job ads across agencies, newspapers and across websites.

Some channels are better than others, he says, and ads direct people towards the various health sector websites, which allow downloadable applications and job descriptions. People cannot yet apply online, though that is planned, but they can apply by email.

Elsewhere, the public sector appears to have some catching up to do.

Air New Zealand uses job boards or newspapers for advertising, allowing applications by email, but not online.

Wellington Regional Council uses SAP payroll systems, but not for recruitment, though it may in future.

“We have higher priorities at this stage; we cannot do everything at once,” says HR manager Paul Tryon.

Wellington City Council places some jobs on its website, but job advertising goes through Adcorp, which includes the use of NZJobs in addition to the major papers. The council prefers to manage the recruitment process itself, but has preferred supplier agreements with agencies if they are needed.

HR capability manager Jim Morgan says CVs are currently sorted out manually, but the council is looking to streamline processes with more consistent advertising and a greater use of email, even if applications will still be processed by hand.

Auckland Regional Council, however, appears an exception by offering online recruitment.

Its website details the job vacancies, it links to NZJobs and also lets people send cvs electronically. Jobs are still advertised in newspapers but they direct people to the website.

HR manager Anthony Hall says the council may receive up to 200 applicants for a job, which are dealt with internally by secretaries in the department seeking the staffer.

Agencies would only be used for a really technical job and the agency had good people.

The biggest change from the web has been using it to shrink the size of print ads, as people can always find out more about a job via the web or telephone. But personally, Hall favours a combination of both systems.

“The print medium has more people reading it. The net ads are cheaper and we can get more people who do not read the New Zealand Herald, especially with technical jobs, you need broad coverage,” he says.

Even so, the council might look at an SAP recruitment system to automate the process, create a database of applications for future reference and do skill checks on capabilities, he says.

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