Online Recruitment – A Killer Web 2.0 Opportunity?

The era of the digital network is just beginning as social networks become the battle ground for the next wave of killer applications. Facebook and LinkedIn are both open platforms allowing third party developers to access their user base and provide services and applications, creating a new paradigm of personal engagement. At the same time as this new paradigm starts to solidify, the world of recruitment is facing rapid changes and all the challenges that come with change. The speed of change in recruitment has increased exponentially as the jobseeker mix moves from Gen X to Gen Y, having to adopt their different view of work, careers and personal identity.


The old view of one’s career was that it was synonymous with the job one had while increasingly a job is merely a stepping-stone on the path of a personal career. The jobs we perform are becoming more transient as we start to take more ownership of our own career paths. More and more of us are freelancing, consulting and working across multiple projects within and without the organisations that pay the main pay cheque. Generation Y start their professional lives already part of the digital network, already masters of their Facebook, Myspace or Bebo social profiles. This generation has already started the journey of building its own personal brand in the social context and it’s looking to do the same in a professional environment.


The traditional, linear recruitment process of one-to-many is on its last legs, almost broken – why? As the average time people spend in a job is near the four year mark, the economics of recruitment are having to adapt. The old process required a database of resumés to be screened, short-listed and funnelled into a pipeline of candidates based on a two-dimensional paper merit match to a three-dimensional role within a dynamic organisation. The time and money required to attract, find and hire the right candidate was high. Some estimates indicated the cost of replacing a junior accountant in a corporation ranged from £3-£10k. These economics worked while the recruiter could assume that candidates would remain in their jobs for a longer period of time. As this is rapidly changing, recruiters are looking for new ways to make the right connections to the right people faster and in a more dynamic way: from one-to-many to one-to-one. This is happening in parallel to increasing development of digital networks. The future of online recruitment is no longer about how many resumés are on tap but how quickly the right connection can be made to the right candidate for the right job.


One’s personal brand is rapidly becoming equally important as the corporate brand. This is evidenced by the number of people starting out on their own at an earlier age, working as consultants, freelancers or entrepreneurs. The value of one’s personal, social and professional network is growing and recruiters are being forced to adapt to capture this value. Professional networks such as LinkedIn and Xing are already reaping benefits with some companies only recruiting from these digital networks, no longer relying on traditional offline search firms or online 1.0 recruitment models such as Monster, Fish4 or Jobsite.


Online 1.0 recruitment still relies on the linear one-to-many model and yet their value in today’s digitally networked world lies mainly untapped: Monster announced in May that it had over 4 million resumés in the UK, that is to say they have 4 million poised jobseekers wishing to engage with the professional world. Having already established a relationship with these users, Monster is but another digital network with valuable information on users with a specific need – looking for their next step in their career development. The challenge Monster and its peers now face is to enable these users to engage with the greater professional community by allowing the owners of the 4m resumés to interact and network with each other. They will then create the channels for their users to connect directly to their potential next boss in a one-to-one way.


Web 2.0 as a buzz word should be at the very top of every online recruitment company’s strategic plan. Large successful online recruitment firms have the users, have built the brand and now need to marry these aspects to the available Web 2.0 technology to keep Generation Y engaged. There is an increasing number of new, innovative companies looking to leverage this new opportunity in online recruitment building new models for recruiters to engage with talent along the premise of the digital network. is one such example – leveraging the personal network, providing a referral payment scheme for successful hires while BraveNewTalent is looking to build a pre-employment networking site to connect talent to their potential future employers, empowering the talent to start controlling their careers through networking.


The role of the large job-boards is not yet extinct but given the current market situation, recruitment may be forced to reinvent itself and start to embrace Web 2.0 developments with the same fervour as our Generation Y took to the online social networks. The game is on and the rewards in recruitment remain huge but the focus needs to be on the target market – digital networking, personal brand development and innovation is the future of online recruitment. As e-recruitment was one of the first successes in online advertising, will it lead in turning the Web 2.0 buzz word into a commercial success?