Cyberspace Recruiting: Useful Strategies to Improve Success

By Nink, Carl; Chieke, Raphael K. | Corrections Today, August 2004 | Go to article overview

Cyberspace Recruiting: Useful Strategies to Improve Success


Nink, Carl, Chieke, Raphael K., Corrections Today


Have corrections professionals gotten smarter in the area of employee recruiting? Top correctional agencies focus on understanding the dynamics associated with continuously improving their recruitment and selection processes to meet short-term hiring goals as well as long-term strategic goals.

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While traditional recruiting activities play important roles in the process, advances in technology have opened the door to new methods, such as the Internet, which is available 24 hours per day, and are becoming more prominent in the human resources professionals' tool kit. Research clearly demonstrates that many more applicants are finding positions through the Internet. In 1996, there were only 11 percent of employers using Internet recruiting, (1) compared with 96 percent in 2001. (2) In addition, Web-based human resource management and automated screening of applicants is evolving, as is applicant recruiting.

The private sector has probably observed and implemented most of the innovative changes during this 21st century. However, the public sector and, in particular, correctional agencies are beginning to realize the power of the Internet to meet recruiting challenges. While some agencies are in the beginning stages, all state correctional agencies currently have operating Web sites.

With Web sites in place, agencies must use the Internet to maximize potential gains in reaching prospective candidates from Web site job postings. A recent Nielsen NetRatings study found that an estimated 151 million individuals across the nation accessed the Internet at least once in January 2004 for 40 minutes on average. The global power of the Internet is an important recruiting instrument to help agencies deal with the future employee and talent famine.

The Internet can be a driving force in agency recruiting strategies. While it may require an investment to develop a system, it will all pay off given the fact that agencies will have the ability to automate candidate screening and tracking, manage a larger volume of resumes and applicant information, and streamline the recruitment process. Large-scale recruitment and more efficient processing can produce more quality candidates. This is especially true for younger workers and those more technologically advanced who may be looking for an exciting job opportunity. Systems with various rural facilities also could benefit from expanding the recruiting net.

The Job Applicant's Perspective

It is important for human resources staff to look at the agency's Web site from the perspective of a potential employee. Since correctional officers represent 50 percent of all staff and the position's classification had a national turnover rate of 16.6 percent during 2001, (3) it is appropriate to focus on that classification.

What would an applicant for a correctional officer position look for on a Web site? Presumably, the applicant would like to know what the job of a correctional officer entails, the basic qualifications, requirements, compensation, benefits, job openings and how to apply (preferably online).

The old style of hitting the streets looking for a job is gone. Today, job seekers can simply sit down at their computer and search for that perfect job. Applicants can search many Internet job boards, most having a resume builder and a format to post a resume. Internet usage facilitates movement of younger Americans from job to job. A national study by the Bureau of Lab or Statistics found that the average number of jobs held by those in the workforce who were between 18 and 32 years of age, was 8.6, with most job changes taking place between 18 and 22 years of age. This continues a process observed for those born from 1957 to 1964, now age 40 to 47 who held 9.6 jobs from ages 18 to 36.

In the past, hiring staff required finding the person who impressed the interviewers. But today, prospective employees seek information from interviewers to see if the managers and organization are a good fit. …

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