Here's a scenario to make any hiring manager salivate.
About a year ago, Michelle Brown of New York was scanning the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Web site, looking to rent a car. ''I saw a section for career opportunities,'' says the Long Island University graduate. ''I clicked on it and couldn't get off.'' So, what was the attraction? ''It was colorful, vivid. It wasn't dull,'' she says. Plus, the site featured:
--Profiles of three college grads who tell of their rapid advancement at Enterprise.
--A virtual ''day-in-the-life'' experience that follows a typical day of task juggling, expected behavior and resulting rewards.
--An emotional intelligence quiz that got Brown hooked in more ways than one. She took the 15-question quiz, which measures characteristics such as persistence, optimism, self-awareness and social skills. When she submitted her answers -- they were scored instantly -- the Web site suggested she apply for a job. ''I thought, 'This exam is telling me to call them,' '' says Brown, who had been unhappy in what she says was a ''dead-end job'' as a legal secretary.
Did she rent a car that day? No. Did she find a new job? Yes. She was hired 10 months ago as a management trainee and just got her first promotion to assistant manager.
Brown represents what everyone is looking for in these days of record low unemployment -- the passive job seeker. And she was lured in through one of the most revolutionary resources to hit the career world since the first caveman carved out his resume on a chunk of rock -- the Internet. But what really attracted Brown was not just any old company staffing site -- one that offered a stuffy corporate line, a list of traditional benefits and a photo of a middle-aged white male chief executive. No, the Enterprise site is unusually job-hunter friendly. ''I saw regular people, just like you and me,'' says Brown. ''They looked friendly and happy.''
The moral? If you want to get the most out of e-cruiting on your company's Web site, you better make that ''e'' stand for engaging.
A bundle of resources is being earmarked for online recruiting efforts. According to Gerry Crispin, three-quarters of the Fortune 500 companies have staffing areas on their Web sites. He's co-author of ''CareerXRoads -- The Directory to Job, Resume and Career Management Sites on the Web'' (www.careerxroads.com). A Yankelovich survey of 300 human-resource managers at big companies found that 80 percent already post jobs on their Web sites -- and one-third of the rest are developing that capability. (The research was commissioned by kforce.com, a Web-based staffing firm.)
Still, too many job hunters are ''underwhelmed (by a company's site) and left feeling dismissed or unable to do what they want, such as apply for a job,'' says Peter Weddle, publisher of Weddles, an online recruiting newsletter (www.weddles.com). The problem? Employers are applying an ''industrial-era mindset'' to their staffing sites. Thousands of employers may be accessing candidates, but very few are doing bonafide recruiting, he says. They are not creating an ''employment brand.''
Those who succeed are the ones who provide information that job hunters can really sink their teeth into, says Crispin, a staffing consultant.
He means details such as what the work is like, what's expected of them, the company's culture and values, its challenges and strategy, its advancement policy and diversity initiatives. When new hires have realistic expectations, they perform better and are retained longer, he told members of the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruiters at a Manhattan meeting. The real innovators, though, are sucking in applicants through interactivity.
That's exactly what's behind the Enterprise site (www.enterprise.com) and what attracted Michelle Brown. The emotional intelligence quiz is ''a tool for people to screen us out,'' says Callaway Ludington, assistant vice president of marketing, who oversees the site. ''The more we tell people about what we offer, the more likely we'll attract the right people,'' she says. She also noted that the site is the first point of contact for 10 percent of applicants -- but as many as 50 percent visit it during some stage of the application process.
Other companies with resourceful recruiting elements:
Cisco Systems (www.cisco.com) matches up its visitors one-on-one with employees who give them the lowdown on the company's challenges and culture.
Goldman Sachs (www.goldmansachs.com) highlights training and career development initiatives, as well as its employees' volunteer activities. The site provides a glossary of Wall Street lingo, as well as an interview checklist.
Computer Associates (www.cai.com) features a ''Bootcamp'' area promoting a 10-week training program for new college graduates, profiles of recent bootcampers, descriptions of Long Island for those on the other side of the country -- or the globe -- plus hyperlinks to all of the area's major sports teams. There's not a trace of stuffy corporate-speak here -- this part of the site was developed by the summer of '99 bootcamp class.
David Kim, 26, who is about to graduate from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, took more than a casual interest in potential employers' Web sites during his job search. As an information systems engineering major, he says, ''I looked for information on the site -- which I think reflects on the company. If the site is really impressive, that says something to me, especially since I am in technology. I don't want to go to a company that's skimping on technology.''
He got offers from Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan. But who landed him? Microsoft. And wouldn't you know it, their employment site is a lulu, with lots of information about jobs, benefits and its Pacific Northwest environs.
Of course, Kim already knew a good deal about the company and was attracted primarily by the nature of the work -- he will be in technology presales. Still, the site gave him confirmation -- including the great news that he didn't have to wear a suit to the interview.
According to one expert, employers who want to attract new college grads should play up issues of advancement, training, degree of creative freedom and atmosphere. Timothy B. Luzader, director of the career placement center at Stony Brook, says starting salaries and benefits are important, too, but don't need to be at the top. Still, he warns against loading on too many bells and whistles that take time to download, as students may get frustrated and move on to another site.
Tony Lee, general manager of www.careers.wsj.com, a free site run by the Wall Street Journal, says people get peeved when they submit a resume and don't get an autoresponse, when they can't find the job section of a company's site (and if they do, find positions that are undated.
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