Recruitment Online


In recent years online technology has majorly changed the job application process. The idea of someone literally reading through every application for an advertised job vacancy is no longer an accurate picture of recruitment procedures.

What is "E-Recruitment"?

It helps to think of online recruitment, or "e-recruitment", tools as search tools that look for specific things within a job application. The kinds of searches they do can be simple or advanced.

The thing they all have in common is that they are looking for something. If they find what they're looking for in your application, they'll give you further consideration. If they don't find it, they won't.

E-Recruitment tools aren't just used to sort through applications, though. Many of them are used to search through already existing lists of potential candidates. These lists can come from different places, like recruitment companies' databases or profile listings online.

This means that in some situations, rather than advertise a vacancy, an organisation could just search through a database to find and approach potential candidates for that job.

Who Uses Them?

It's impossible to say which recruiters or companies are using which e-recruitment tools. What we do know is that the use of these tools has increased. These days it helps to assume that when you're applying for a job, you're sending your application to a "robot".

This is the worst-case scenario. In most circumstances a human being will be involved for at least part of the process. If you assume you're writing to a robot, though, you'll be meeting the needs of both human and automated recruitment.

What Are They Looking For?

E-recruitment tools look for specific things in an application. What those things are is defined by the company that is recruiting. Unfortunately there is no standard answer to the question "what are they looking for?"

Examples of the kinds of things e-recruitment tools might be looking for include:

  • Keywords (just like Google)
  • Minimum educational level
  • Names of previous employers
  • Job titles
  • Skill descriptions
  • How many "essential" criteria you meet
  • How many "desired" criteria you meet

If you're applying for an advertised position, carefully reading over the ad and/or position description a couple of times should give you an idea about what kind of keywords, education and skills are required.

Making sure you mention these things in your job application will give you a better chance of being chosen by e-recruitment tools.

Check out our Online Applications page for more tips on submitting job applications online. For more about using keywords in your resume, check out our How to Write a Resume page.

The Importance of Formatting

Most e-recruitment tools work best when they are applied to documents that have been created in Microsoft Word or similar word processing programs. Some tools can review PDF documents, but not all.

In most cases you should be told what format to use to submit your application. If you are, make sure you use that file format. If you don't use that format, there's a chance that your application won't be read because the software reading it won't be able to read it at all.

Other things that e-recruitment software tends to have problems with include:

  • Picture files
  • Tables within documents
  • Information in headers or footers

For more about formatting job applications, check out our How to Write a Resume and How to Write a Cover Letter pages.

Key things to Remember about E-Recruitment

To put it bluntly, unless your application meets the needs of e-recruitment tools, you're probably not going to get the job.

Here are some key points to remember about e-recruitment tools when submitting a job application:

  • Make sure your resume and cover letter use key words relevant to the job
  • Always assume you're submitting to a robot (though this is the worst-case scenario)
  • Submit your resume and cover letter in Word format
  • Don't use tables
  • Don't use pictures
  • If you put information in headers/footers, put it in the main body of your resume/cover letter as well

It's also important to keep in mind that e-recruitment tools can be used to search already existing databases of candidates. This means recruiters don't need to advertise a job to find suitable applicants. Because of this, you should seriously consider submitting your resume and contact details to some jobsearch profile sites.

For more about putting your resume online, check out our pages about Professional Networking Sites, Managing Your Online Image and Online Applications.