Byline: Denise Power

NEW YORK — If there weren’t enough compelling reasons to get into the Internet game and establish a web site, here’s another: staff recruitment.
The vast majority of those seeking corporate jobs are heavy users of the Internet, where they eagerly gather information about prospective employers, according to a new survey examining the web’s role in corporate recruitment efforts.
In their continuing struggle to attract top talent, retailers may discover that the effectiveness of their web sites can be the edge in attracting top-flight job candidates.
“I believe people will begin to rely more and more on the web versus the other traditional ways of finding jobs,” said Carolyn Duvall, director of merchant placement, Macy’s West. “It will eventually become a traditional way of finding a job.”
More than 80 percent of graduating students seeking corporate-level jobs check a company’s web site before submitting resumes, according to research conducted by Hanrick Associates, a Seattle web development and Internet marketing firm.
In addition, nearly 60 percent of respondents indicated that recruiting-specific information posted on a company’s site influences them “a good deal” when considering applying for a position or accepting one.
These findings are among the highlights of the survey “E-Recruiting: Using the Internet to Get Top Talent.” The research also revealed what kind of web content attracts quality candidates and what can detract from the recruiting message.
“The main thing that came out of the research is job seekers are looking for simplicity — straightforward information about a company, and updated on a regular basis,” said David Rickard, Hanrick’s chief executive officer. “Some companies are putting up high tech stuff, colorful pictures, moving graphics, but we found people are not looking for that. They are looking for information they can access quickly and effectively.”
Job seekers are hungry for factual information about prospective employers so they can make comparisons. “We were surprised to find that basic, straightforward information was more valued than softer things, such as employee testimonials,” said Brian Biekert, an analyst at Hanrick.
The site designed by Sears, Roebuck & Co., Hoffman Estates, Ill., has many of the effective components the survey highlighted, because it takes a comprehensive, information-rich approach and steers clear of gimmicks.
“We have designed our web site to be of value to a variety of constituents, including our own associates, investors, customers, people doing research, and certainly in that group are job candidates,” said Jan Drummond, a spokeswoman for Sears. “People can get a lot of information about what Sears is doing simply by scrolling through our sites.”
The Sears site does have a page dedicated to career opportunities, and that site contains job openings that are updated periodically. Biekert noted that job seekers trolling the web to explore career opportunities, especially those doing so on the time of their current employer, don’t respond well to multimedia graphics.
“One reason is that a lot of job seekers are afraid to be surfing [for a new job] while at work,” he said. Although their office work station likely has the processing power and bandwidth capacity to view flashing, moving graphics, job seekers don’t want those images calling attention to what they’re doing.
Those researching job opportunities from home also turn away from flashy “web tactics” because such effects are likely to lock up their less powerful personal computers.
Rickard noted that survey respondents characterized the web as far more influential than traditional information media that companies use in recruitment campaigns.
Duvall of Macy’s West agreed.
“We think the web is going to be even more important going forward. We have used it for the last three years and have had some success [with recruitment],” she said. “But we think now, in terms of cost per hire, that the web is going to be a much more efficient recruitment tool than traditional newspapers.”
Federated Department Stores, Cincinnati, the parent company of Macy’s West, is planning to launch, a site designed to serve as an information resource for college students researching a career in retail.