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Employers Use Web To Recruit

Added: (Fri Dec 03 1999)

Pressbox (Press Release) - By DAVID KOENIG AP Business Writer

DALLAS - When Kevin Marvel took over the head recruiting job at General Instrument more than two years ago, the technology company's use of the Internet to find employees was crude at best.

Competing with Silicon Valley for tech-savvy employees, the Horsham, Pa.-based company, which dominates the market for cable TV set-top boxes, had no way of keeping track of people who had sent resumes by e-mail. It lost track of promising prospects.

This year, the company turned to a Texas software company to bring its recruiting process out of the dark ages. One Sunday in April, the company ran a half-page newspaper advertisement and a local television blurb to publicize job openings and direct applicants to the company Web site.

By the time Marvel arrived at work the next morning, 600 electronic resumes had been received, applicants were scored on a questionnaire they filled out online at the General Instrument Web site, they were sorted into piles of the hopeless, the possible and the promising - and all the results were in the hands of the hiring manager.

Recruiting by the Internet is now a maturing industry. According to Forrester Research of Cambridge, Mass., there are more than 2.5 million resumes floating around cyberspace and nearly 30,000 job-posting Web sites, ranging from the largest, Monster.com, to sites solely for mortician openings. Big companies, such as Irving-based GTE Corp (NYSE:GTE - news)., get 20,000 to 30,000 e-mail resumes a year.

Employers, especially in technology, view the Internet as a cheaper, faster and wider-reaching way to fill jobs.

Like the Internet itself, the way employers find workers online is changing rapidly. The volume of inquiries has forced companies like General Instrument, which is being acquired by Motorola, to manage resumes more efficiently, said Mark Minichiello, director of North American recruiting for Nortel Networks, the Canadian phone and technology company with
U.S. headquarters in Richardson.

"You have to make it as easy as possible. Lots of functionality is being built in to the Web sites," Minichiello said. "You're starting to see lots of push technology."

'Push technology' is software that captures the identity of people who visit a company's online job listings and sends them an e-mail encouraging them to send their resume or just keep in touch. The idea, Minichiello said, is to build relationships with skilled workers, even if they're employed elsewhere.

The new trends in Internet recruiting are spawning companies such as Hire.com, an Austin startup. Using Hire.com's software, clients including Austin-based Motive Communications Inc. can design their own questionnaires to screen prospects based on their skills, location, pay demands or any other factor and match them to posted jobs.

Pat Motola, chief financial officer at Motive, a technical-support company, said the new software culls unqualified applicants and allows him to respond more quickly to promising prospects, even those who don't leave a resume - often viewed as the most desirable candidates.

While the Internet now is used mainly in the screening process, many experts believe technology will soon allow Internet recruiting to go even further into the recruiting process.

Online video interviewing, already in its infancy, is expected to quickly catch on, said Gerry Crispin, co-author of 'Careerxroads,' which ranks Internet job-posting sites.

"That's a very significant advantage in being able to get down to the final candidates more quickly," he said.

One company hoping to capitalize on the technology, SearchLINC.com of Richardson has put mini-studios in Radisson hotels. A hiring manager and an applicant in separate cities can talk and see each other as long as they both have access to a studio. Companies can also subscribe to the company's service and receive video equipment and network hookups.

Some observers believe the growth of Internet recruiting threatens some more-traditional means of finding employees, such as corporate headhunters and newspaper advertising.

"The place to look first now for job openings is on company Web sites and not in the Sunday classifieds," said Minichiello, the Nortel recruiter.

Forrester Research, which tracks technology industries, boldly predicts the end of newspaper help-wanteds.

Not so, say the nation's newspaper publishers, who derive about one-third of their revenue from classified ads, with employment ads comprising nearly half of all classifieds.

Kevin McCourt, director of online classified advertising for the Newspaper Association of America, says employment ads are growing 4 percent over last year, "although maybe we haven't seen the level of growth that we might have seen if the Internet wasn't around."

Some newspapers, such as The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, have responded to the Internet threat by making their online help-wanted sections more interactive, linking them to company Web sites. Publishers are also confident that some jobs are hard to fill over the Internet, especially less-skilled jobs that appeal only to local workers.

"Health-care recruiters tell us their nursing prospects don't have Internet access at work," McCourt said. "You can't surf the 'net and take care of patients at the same time."

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