E-Recruitment: The Move towards a Virtually Organized Recruitment Process1

E-Recruitment: The Move towards a Virtually Organized Recruitment Process1

Anna B. Holm (Aarhus University, Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-207-5.ch005


E-recruitment, also known as online or Web-based recruitment, is little discussed in research from an organizational perspective. The aim of this chapter, therefore, is to analyze and discuss the process of e-recruitment, its key constituents, and organizing principles, based on the results of a qualitative study conducted in 2008-2009, together with data from industrial reports, articles from practitioner magazines, and in-depth interviews. The chapter provides a summary of e-recruitment properties and a composite matrix of the overall elements of e-recruitment organizing. E-recruitment is viewed as a case of virtual organizing, i.e. the organization of processes and activities, which, via technology and human agents, facilitate time- and space-independent interaction and collaboration. The chapter closes with a brief discussion of implications for HR managers and professionals and avenues for future research.
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The Internet and the availability of supporting information and communication technologies (ICTs) have radically changed recruiting (Cappelli, 2001), e.g. by significantly changing the traditional process of job advertising, CV screening, short-listing, and communication with candidates (Coleman, 2006). Reports from practice suggest that e-recruitment generates a higher application turnover (Minton-Eversole, 2007), considerably shortens the time it takes for a vacancy to be filled (Taylor, 2001), and is highly cost-efficient (Coleman, 2006). Surveys indicate that job seekers increasingly expect to find work through the Internet, rather than through other sources (Bartram, 2000).

E-recruitment is frequently discussed in practitioner magazines and industry reports, and is a widespread managerial practice in many parts of the world. A report from the US-based Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM, 2008b) indicates that, in the USA, national online job boards and the career sections of company websites are the primary recruiting sources for 47% and 35% of companies respectively. In 2001, Taleo Research (formerly iLogos Research) found that 76% of European 500 companies had a career section on their websites, 55% posted job positions there, and 55% accepted website submission of applications (Lermusiaux & Snell, 2001). In a following survey,Taleo Research concluded that, in 2003, 93% of Global 500 companies were using e-recruitment: 96% of those in Pacific Asia, 94% in Europe and 96% in North America (Lermusiaux & Snell, 2003).

Despite being a widespread managerial practice and the second largest e-business application (Lee, 2005), e-recruitment has received rather limited attention in academic research from an organizational perspective (Parry & Tyson, 2008). Both e-recruitment and its parental term, electronic HRM (e-HRM), are in the process of academic conceptualization, and require further empirical investigation (Bondarouk & Ruël, 2009). This might explain why it is difficult to find a clear and universally accepted definition of e-recruitment. For example, The Dictionary of Human Resource Management (Heery & Noon, 2001) defines e-recruitment as the recruitment of employees on the Internet. According to the dictionary, e-recruitment assumes a number of different forms, including advertising vacancies on websites, Internet job boards that act as labour market intermediaries, and internet directories which list job vacancies and connect directly to company websites (p.112). Lee (2005) further broadens the definition by incorporating a more general notion of electronic means which organizations employ to “fill open positions effectively and efficiently”. Put another way, it still remains unclear exactly which organizational processes and principles constitute efficient e-recruiting practice, and how they are embedded in an organization.

One of the main aims of this chapter is to discuss the scope and key constituents of e-recruitment, and, in so doing, identify which organizational processes the term includes. The overall research question guiding the study is to determine whether e-recruitment should be viewed as a technological means of supporting recruiting services, or as a broader organizational phenomenon largely under managerial discretion.

The paper is based on two assumptions. Firstly, e-recruitment is viewed as subordinate to e-HRM, also called virtual HRM (Lepak & Snell, 1998). Broadly defined, e-HRM is a way of executing HRM to acquire, develop and retain human capital with the use of ICTs. Secondly, as e-recruiting goes beyond physical organizational boundaries, it enters the realm of ICTs and cyberspace. My research thus takes a starting point in virtual organizing, which is understood as the organization of processes and activities, using technology and human agents, to facilitate time- and space-independent interaction and collaboration (Holm & Ulhøi, 2010).

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