Job sites still have room for improvement

Ease of use is one of the key selling points for online services, and recruitment sites are no exception. But having heard a number of stories from frustrated users of recruitment web sites we decided to investigate.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  July 3, 2001

Online recruitment|~||~||~|Ease of use is one of the key selling points for online services, and recruitment sites are no exception. But having heard a number of stories from frustrated users of recruitment web sites we decided to investigate.

The last two years has seen a number of recruitment web sites spring up in the Middle East, the most prominent being Bayt.com, Careermideast.com, and Skill-link.com. The sites tout efficient and time saving job seeking, but often remain tight lipped when it comes to revealing the success rates for job seekers, and employers. They promise online advice for maximising job seekers CVs and skills, but are they producing results?

Attempts by ACN revealed that online recruitment can be time consuming, restrictive, ineffective and downright disheartening. The frustrations begin with some sites requiring password and user names for registration.

According to Heba De Maurissens, UAE country manager, Skill-link.com, the user name and password was introduced to enable users to proceed more directly and eliminate typing mistakes.

“We changed the process because we found out that around 10% of the job seekers’ e-mail [addresses] we had on our database were not correct. This is annoying and time consuming to solve especially in the online business,” explains De Maurissens.

Careermideast claims its registration process was set up to establish the validity of job seekers and ensure they had a valid e-mail address.

But the inconvenience of online registration pales in comparison to the process of posting a CV online. The complaints vary from the time required to enter all the mandatory or required information to restrictive and ineffective final CVs.

The online recruitment sites argue that CVs must be standardised to make it easier for employers to search and compare the vast number of CVs they receive. The sites countered time consuming complaints by saying that time spent on a CV is time well spent.

“With very few exceptions, employers have requested a common format from which they would review the candidate,” comments Mona Ataya, president of marketing, Bayt. “By looking at all the applicants through ‘common’ format, the employer can focus on what matters — content.”

A standardised format is all very well, but for an established job seeker with a polished CV, the process can’t be described as efficient. Bayt is looking to enhance its CV process and optimise the cut and paste facility. This also enables users to create more industry or job specific CVs.

“Job seekers will be able to view mock CVs across industries, for example, ‘the ideal IT CV’ or the ‘ideal marketing CV’,” adds Ataya.

Filling out the information for online CVs can prove just as testing. Finding the correct sections to post education qualifications, skills and references is a challenge. Many of the Middle East recruitment sites focus heavily on degree qualifications or Americanised education systems, limiting the appeal and help, particularly to first time job seekers.

The recruitment sites argue that the ‘other’ section of the CV is for users to add any additional information they feel is an important of their CV.

“From experience [employers] mostly search on degrees, they want a BSc or an MBA, or they look for a personal certification, CPA or Microsoft certified network engineer — those are the two most used searches,” reveals De Maurissens.

This perhaps also explains the strong IT-based nature of the local online recruitment sites, many of which include individual sections for candidates to list their IT qualifications.

Tarek Amin, marketing director at Careermideast, says the heavy IT influence on the recruitment sites merely reflects the fact that IT users have been the earliest to adopt online recruitment. “By default the early users of our services, were to a great extent, IT related companies because they understood the solution and mindset from day one,” states Amin.

||**||Personal Preference|~||~||~|Many standard and perhaps essential parts of CVs also seem to be relegated to the ‘other’ section of online CVs which detracts from the attributes of a candidate. Very few of the online sites ask for references, with privacy cited as the reason for its exclusion by Careermideast.

“Confidentiality mainly, [but] we find that employers in this part of the world rarely check up on references,” adds De Maurissens.

Once CVs are posted, however, the results can be disappointing and disheartening. Perhaps the imbalance between job seekers and employers is to blame for this lack of response. While these sites may be pulling in the job seekers, it doesn’t appear that they are attracting the same number of employers and jobs.

With Bayt claiming to have 65,000 job seekers and over 50,000 CVs posted to their site, but only 3000 registered employers. Skill-link has 27,000 job seekers, De Maurissens reveals, “90% of the employers prefer to search the database, and not display job vacancies in the ‘job section’ of Skill-link.com.”

The lack of employers is perhaps reflected in the limited range of jobs provided on the recruitment web sites, with the majority of jobs involving IT or IT companies. Bayt says it posts 150 new jobs daily, and freshens its jobs every six weeks, allowing companies to either extend their jobs vacancy or let it elapse.

“Our site caters to various industries including, but definitely not limited to, accounting, finance, administration, marketing, sales and IT jobs,” argues Amin.

Bayt has, however, been focusing on industries that represent the ‘highest hiring potential’ and these include, IT, medicine and hospitality.
From an employers’ point of view having to sift through the large number of CVs sent from online job seekers is a time consuming and often fruitless process. Skill-link has set about tackling this problem by screening the CVs it receives.

“Skill-link is adopting a human screening process for each and every CV. All the listed job seekers on the live database are those that passed the screening,” says De Maurissens.

The emergence of online recruitment sites in the region has also coincided with increasing numbers of companies taking the recruitment processes online.
Microsoft, Compaq and HP are just a few of the companies that provide links on their web sites for candidates to post their CVs or place job adverts on their sites.

“In the Gulf, Eastern Mediterranean (GEM) the tool [online job link] has helped to meet 30% of our hiring requirements,” says Fazal Khan, human resources manager, Microsoft, Gulf & Eastern Mediterranean.

Compaq has also found its job facility useful, and currently receives 300 CVs a week, according to Addie Van Rooij, human resources & environment manager, Middle East, Mediterranean & Africa.

Compaq has optimised its online recruitment process by deploying a software, which screens the CVs posted according to the specific profiles the candidates are required to fill out.

HP has also followed suit choosing to avoid the costs of recruitment agencies, and use their own web site.

But, the companies all agree, there is a certain deficiency in online recruitment, “it is unusual to find high calibre managers surfing the web for a job,” comments Van Rooij. “The recruitment of senior management is done through relationships, internal [promotions] or via head hunters.”

The lack of skilled IT employees in the region, also makes it possible for strong candidates to shine through by word of mouth. “The best source of people is still personal referral, and as the Middle East is a village, people tend to know suitable candidates,” concludes Graham Porter, HP’s Middle East marketing manager.||**||

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