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Tech Industry

Recruiting firms turn to the Net

Just as the Internet has revolutionized almost every aspect of business operations, it also is changing the ways companies find and hire executives.

Just as the Internet has revolutionized almost every aspect of business operations--from online stock transactions to electronic commerce--it also is changing the ways companies find and hire executives.

Companies with vacant management positions in today's tight labor The legal pitfalls of aggressive recruiting market usually spend an average of three to five months in the recruiting process before they can expect to fill the positions. Even companies using an executive search service, or headhunter, find that the process of attracting, recruiting, and interviewing potential executives is tedious at best and inefficient at worst.

Just as the power of the Internet has sped up the pace of business, it has sped up the recruiting and hiring process as well. In high-tech fields especially, companies increasingly are turning to the Internet to post classifieds and accept resumes from potential candidates. Those who prefer not to list openings directly on their corporate Web sites can turn to employment sites like MonsterBoard and CareerMosaic.

But such online recruiting methods often prove to be more effective at luring recent college graduates into entry-level positions than filling executive and management voids. As a result, executive recruiting firms like Korn/Ferry International are stepping up their services in the hopes of eventually tailoring them to management hiring needs.

In response to client requests, Korn/Ferry has announced that it is launching a new Internet venture, dubbed CareerLink, aimed at matching qualified middle managers with open positions.

In the past, it would have been a waste of time and money for a company like Korn/Ferry, which survives on commissions, to place anyone but top executives. But thanks to the immediacy and efficiency of the Internet, Korn/Ferry is setting up an online database of qualified candidates that client companies can take advantage of with minimal effort.

CareerLink, which will be rolled out in the Los Angeles area sometime next year, doesn't see existing online job forums as competition. "Those are databases with a few keyword services, not a screening mechanism," said Man Jit Singh, Korn/Ferry's managing director for CareerLink. "We provide companies with a sophisticated filtering mechanism to outsource the grunt work. We're experts at that."

Despite its recruiting expertise, however, Korn/Ferry, is late in joining the online hiring game. In the high-tech arena, where the shortage of qualified candidates is both well-documented and loudly lamented, many companies long ago expanded their internal recruiting efforts to include Internet.

A prime example is Microsoft. The software giant interviews some 50 people each day at its Redmond, Washington, campus, and already has a well-developed internal recruiting effort that allows it to post all available jobs on its Web site and process over 13,000 resumes per year.

"The Web site is obviously an important source for us," said a company spokesman, adding that Microsoft would only consider using an outside source, such as Korn/Ferry, under rare circumstances.

Intel, which has added 15,000 jobs worldwide this year, also extensively uses the Internet to seek out qualified applicants and process resumes. In addition to job listings on its corporate Web site, the chip maker also lists on MonsterBoard and CareerMosaic and holds online job fairs. During the three years that Intel has been using the Internet for recruiting, its efforts have generated thousands of resumes and filled hundreds of jobs.

But with the competitive pressure of the extraordinarily tight Silicon Valley labor market showing no signs of slowing down, even Intel, with its extensive online recruiting infrastructure already in place, is not prepared to rule out the use of a service like CareerLink to augment its hiring efforts in the future.

"We're not presumptuous enough to assume that everyone will come to the Intel site," said Rick Ludeman, Intel's staffing communications manager. "The whole business model of Internet recruiting is still trying to sort itself out," he added.

This may be true throughout the high-tech industry, which is part of the reason why CareerLink--for now--is only offering its matchmaking services to applicants for standardized positions in accounting and human resource fields. "At least initially," Singh said. "We want to focus on positions that have a great deal of homogeneity among them."