Online job-hunting spreads its net

Finding work on the web is not just for nerds, writes Roger Trapp
Not so long ago it was just computer studies students who showed off their technological prowess by applying for jobs via the Internet. Now it seems everybody's at it. And, lest they be outflanked by such developments, recruiters and the consultancies who traditionally fill their vacancies are rising to the challenge.

ITM Communications at the end of this month launches what it claims is the UK's first multimedia CD-rom graduate recruitment directory. Resource City, a financial markets consultancy, has just inaugurated a recruitment website with the aim of using a CV database to take the pain out of recruitment.

And now there is Inter-Work. Like the above schemes and various others, the company behind it says Inter-Work is of benefit to students and companies alike in terms of time and money saved. But Inter-Work is different in that it includes an assessment. Students are asked to fill in questionnaires that collect not just biographical information but also hints of their approach to work and capabilities.

Colin Selby of Selby MillSmith, the firm of occupational psychologists responsible for Inter-Work, explains: "Companies can access the most suitable graduates without having to leave the office. What's more, this is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

In addition companies can - through a software package supplied to subscribers - set out their requirements and compare student "competencies" to these profiles to achieve the best matches. Students are attracted by being able to apply to a range of employers through filling in one form and the system brings them into consideration for work with some of the biggest recruiters.

"Inter-Work brings into contention students from outside the 'big eight' universities visited by major employers," adds Dr Selby. "There are now no logistical reasons not to consider candidates from all higher education institutions."

This factor appeals to companies, as they are recognising the people they need are not always going to be where they expect to find them. "Employers are prepared to accept that in the past they may have missed out on a pool of talent in their graduate recruitment programmes. One subscriber told us that if he finds one undergraduate with real flair through Inter- Work, his investment will have paid off."

Nor do the benefits end here. Companies - which pay for the service on a sliding scale based on the numbers of people they hire - cannot screen candidates on the grounds of gender, race or disability. "Inter-Work ensures that employers treat all candidates equally, not allowing prejudice to influence selection. However, it does enable them to be discriminating when it comes to a candidate's capabilities," says Dr Selby.

The irony is that, with so many different Internet recruitment services springing up, final-year students desperate to find places will probably end up filling in just as many forms as their paper-bound forebears did.