An audit of online recruitment : a South African perspective

Swart, Lani (2008-03)

Thesis (MA (Industrial Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2008.


The survival of an organisation in a global competitive business environment depends on its survival skills (e.g. adaptability, flexibility and innovativeness), which is situated within its human resources. Hence, the recruitment function’s role is critical, since it is responsible for the procurement of key intellectual capital that could equip the organisation with a competitive advantage. However, against the accelerated growth of the Internet combined with global competition, traditional recruitment methods are increasingly failing to rise to the challenge of securing key intellectual capital, due to being too time consuming and expensive. Consequently, organisations are progressively turning to online recruitment (which does not refer to one specific technique, but rather several different Internet tools that can be employed as a recruitment method, such as organisational websites, specialised job sites, media websites or newsgroups). However, the presence of an organisational website that advertises vacancies is not sufficient to guarantee its success as a recruitment method. Hence, it is vital to gain an understanding of website recruitment, as well as how to maximise the website’s effectiveness and ability to facilitate successful online applicant behaviour (SOAB), in order to harness its full potential as a recruitment method, able to secure key intellectual capital. For the purpose of this study, SOAB refers to potential applicants (i.e. job seekers entering an organisational website in search of employment opportunities) being able to browse the website without any difficulty and obtain relevant and sufficient information concerning the organisation and its listed vacancies. In addition to enabling potential applicants to assess whether he/she will be able to fit, perform and accelerate in the work climate and culture of the organisation (i.e. decide whether he/she would like to work for the organisation), a website that facilitates SOAB, should also enable potential applicants to contact the organisation to address additional information needs. In essence, this study comprises of three phases and centres on the identification of website content- and usability design benchmarks that should contribute to a website’s ability to facilitate SOAB. By means of a comprehensive literature review, it is argued that the content- and usability design are vital contributing factors to a website’s ability to facilitate SOAB. It is also proposed that the effectiveness of the website as a recruitment method is, to a certain degree, linked to the effectiveness of the alignment of an organisation’s online recruitment strategy with the five stages of potential applicants’ job decision-making process (i.e. the recognition of an employment need, search for career related information, evaluation of career alternatives, identification and acceptance of employment and post-choice evaluation). Phase one, entails the identification of website content- and usability design benchmarks and culminates with the development of the Website Benchmarks Checklist. Phase two, which constitutes the overall purpose of this study, entails an audit of the sample of the ‘best’ SA employers’ (drawn from a survey conducted by the Corporate Research Foundation, 2005) websites. The primary aim is to determine the extent to which the sample’s website design incorporates the identified benchmarks. However, the quality of potential applicants’ interaction with a website (i.e. informative content being communicated in an effective, efficient and satisfactory manner), greatly influences their perception of the organisation’s image, its attractiveness as an employer, as well as their intention to pursue employment within the organisation. Hence, the third phase of the study entails the subjective evaluation of three websites (selected from the audited sample), by a sample of potential applicants. Throughout the study, the empirical tests conducted were descriptive in nature and utilised survey research methods to acquire the required data, related to the specified goals and objectives that encapsulate the aim and purpose of this study. The results obtained provided valuable insight into website design benchmarks that should assist potential applicants in their job decision-making process, increase a website’s ability to facilitate SOAB and maximise its effectiveness as a recruitment method responsible for securing key intellectual capital. In addition to revealing that the majority of the sample employs its website as a recruitment method, the audit results also indicated that although a high level of adherence existed concerning the sample’s incorporation of the usability design benchmarks. However, a notable difference that ranged from very little to relatively high existed with regards to the extent to which the sample’s website design adhered to the content design benchmarks. The subjective evaluation of the three websites by potential applicants revealed that in addition to being critical contributors to the quality of their interaction with a website, the content- and usability design also had a profound impact on their assessment of the websites. Finally, the results also showed that a similarity existed between potential applicants’ subjective evaluation and the extent to which the design of the three websites adhered to the recommended benchmarks (audit results).

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