Last month, Annie Timoney became the first secretary to be recruited via online services. "It is a lot faster, you get on to the market as soon as you log on," Ms Timoney says. The day after she saw the vacancy on Reed Employment's World Wide Web pages (http://www.reed.co.uk), Ms Timoney was interviewed by Reed. The next day she was given a further interview by the prospective employer, the insurance broker Bain Hogg, and the day after that was offered the job.
"When I searched for `jobs' on the Internet, I recognised Reed Employment's name among the agencies listed, and went straight into their pages of current vacancies," says Ms Timoney. "It was easy to find a position that I was interested in, and it took one click to send them the form with my details on."
Ms Timoney is delighted with the process, as she has landed a plum bilingual secretarial job with the minimum of fuss and delay. She believes that online recruitment is attractive not only for employers but also for people seeking work. "You are in control of the process," she says. "If you go into an agency, they decide what to offer. But this way, if you know what you want, you are in control."
Reed has been advertising job vacancies on its Web site since April last year. It now offers about 500 positions in the UK, and also gives access to details of a further 10,000 jobs abroad. At first, they were all computer vacancies; now accountancy, managerial and secretarial positions are also online. Reed says that a key advantage is that vacancies are updated daily.
Associated Newspapers is so convinced that online recruitment will take off that it has bought the People Bank. The agency expects to have a quarter of a million candidates on its online site (http://www.peoplebank.com) by the middle of the year.
People Bank's managing director, Bill Shipton, believes that employers will be able to shortlist candidates more quickly and effectively using online services. "Hiring the right staff for key positions is often expensive, time consuming and non-productive," he says. "Hours of valuable management time can easily be wasted sifting through inappropriate CVs and interviewing the wrong candidates." Online recruitment can cut much of this out, he says.
Employment agencies are also using video interviews to help shortlist candidates. Video- conferencing facilities are now well established among multinationals for interviewing and appointing to some posts such as overseas representatives, making big savings on transport costs. The same technology is now being adopted in more widely by recruitment specialists.
In February, Reed opened 14 video suites in its largest agency offices, as the first part of a major investment project which will lead to half of the company's 200 branches installing the facilities. It is likely to become standard practice for many of the country's larger employers to conduct initial interviews by video-conference, saving time, and, through avoiding unnecessary journeys by applicants, money.
WHERE TO FIND WORK ON THE WEB
There are at least a dozen British IT recruitment agencies advertising on the World Wide Web, and a handful of companies that offer opportunities outside computing. For example, O'Connell Associates (http:// www.oconnell.co.uk) is a financial services specialist, while Chadwick Nott (http:// www.careerpoint.co.uk/) works in the legal and accountancy professions and Prime Recruitment (http://www.tcp.co.uk/ primerec/) offers engineering as well as IT jobs.
Then there is Crewseekers (http:// www.xibis.co.uk). This tells potential escapeees from the rat race which yachts are going where, and what crews they need. A good way to earn a very few pennies - and to escape from the Internet.
Other IT recruitment agencies and pages on the World Wide Web include:
International IT Recruitment Exchange