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Find Your Best Hire Online

January 1, 2010

Ten years ago, if you needed a new receptionist, you put an ad in the local paper. If you needed a government affairs director, maybe you hired a recruiter. Today, the Internet gives you even more avenues—from social networking sites to niche job boards—to easily, and inexpensively, reach a wide pool of qualified candidates. But if you don’t take some precautions, finding someone to work for you may be more work than you bargained for.

Benefits of posting your job online

First, let’s look at the benefits of using not only the Internet, but also social and professional networking sites, to find your next employee.

• Lower cost. An ad in the print edition of the local newspaper could cost around $1,000 for one weekend, depending on the number of lines in your job description. Go digital instead, and you can post your positions directly to the most popular Web sites, such as CareerBuilder, Monster, and Linked-In, for as long as 60 days and at around half the cost of traditional print ads (if not less). The popular Craigslist is free, as are myriad other niche job boards categorized at www.jobboardreviews.com.

• Proactive search. Instead of waiting for the résumés to roll in, on many online job sites and social networks you can search a résumé or member database for applicants based on a certain skill set, experience, and other relevant criteria.

• Word-of-mouth. Hiring an employee on the recommendation of someone you know is the oldest—and some say the best—way to find highly qualified workers. So it’s no wonder that online social networks are the hottest place today for job seekers and employers alike. If you’re an AE with a LinkedIn profile, for example, one posting to your contacts about the need to hire an education director is likely to generate solid leads from people you trust.

Prep before you post

For every job you post, you’ll likely receive hundreds of responses. So, before you post an opening on every job listing site and social media platform on the Internet, consider your target audience. If you’re looking for a new receptionist who knows your area, then the local paper’s online site or Craigslist may do the trick. On the other hand, if you’re looking to recruit top technology talent to restructure your IT department, posting to the tech job site Dice.com would be a more strategic approach.

• Get organized. Unless you want hundreds of e-mails with attachments clogging up your inbox, establish a dedicated job application e-mail address. Instruct applicants to include the job title in their subject line, and you’ll be able to screen, sort, and rank résumés more easily.

• Follow the law. Your state law’s record retention provisions apply, whether you’re collecting résumés online or in person.* Label file folders in your e-mail system, such as “Unqualified: lacks tech skills,” and “Unqualified: lacks prior experience,” to track applicants. Then, when you’ve met your obligation for recordkeeping, purge the résumés in accordance with your association’s electronic media purging guidelines.

• Secure your systems. Is your computer -system protected from e-mail viruses? Since you’ll be soliciting e-mails from outside sources, likely with attachments, it is possible that some of them may inadvertently carry a virus. Ensure that your system can scan documents before you open them.

Also, limit access to the résumé e-mailbox. Only those involved in the recruiting process should know who’s applying for the job.

Can you have too much information?

Don’t be surprised when the e-mail résumés you receive are filled with links to applicants’ blogs, profiles, portfolios, and photos. But before you get distracted, determine what is really relevant to the position, as well as some guidelines for reviewing such extraneous information.

• Don’t discriminate. Although an applicant’s blog can provide valuable insight into his or her character, opinions, and achievements, it may also enable you to determine his or her age, race, religion, and sexual orientation, leaving you open to hiring discrimination lawsuits. Once you admit that you examine online sites prior to making an employment decision, it may be more difficult to prove that your reasons for not hiring an applicant were legitimate, rather than the result of discrimination against a protected class. Always document why one applicant was chosen over another. For example, did the hired applicant have more relevant work experience, knowledge of a particular system, or the technical skills needed?

• Be wary of false information. It’s tempting—and popular—to Google a job applicant. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder study found that more than 45 percent of recruiters go online to research job applicants. Although this is a good way to find out more about candidates, be cautious. Consider that several people share the same name. So, the questionable blog you found may not belong to the person who’s applying for your job. Likewise, photos may misidentify people and posts to social networking sites may contain outright false statements about your applicant made by disgruntled coworkers or ex-spouses.

*Job advertisements, postings, résumés, and applications should be kept on file for one to two years, depending on your state law. For more details, read “Document Retention: What Not to Trash,” by NAR Associate Counsel F.P. Maxson in the REALTOR® AE magazine, Spring 2007.
How do you look online?

While you’re using social media to check out job candidates, they’re using it to check you out, too. Does your association have its own LinkedIn profile and Facebook page? The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ profile on LinkedIn lists current and past employees and members who have LinkedIn profiles. It also details recent promotions, popular job titles, and basic company stats. Consider the value of including a bit about your company culture on your association’s Web site “about” page, or creating a “career” page where you can post job openings, along with some
of the attractive benefits you may offer, such as health insurance, 401(k), flex time, and on-the-job-training.

Are you ready to tweet for employees?
If you love Twitter then why not use it to find your next hire? Twitter is the free social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read 140-character messages, known as tweets, online or through their mobile devices. Job tweets posted to one of the Twitter job boards, such as @socialmediajob, or on sites such as TwitHire.com or JobShouts.com, can reach that young, tech-savvy audience who’s just right for your open position.