Companies are increasingly using the internet to fill their top jobs, with almost a quarter even using the web to find board directors.
Research from the Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI) has found that the number of firms using their corporate web sites to recruit board directors has almost doubled over the past year, rising from 12 per cent to 23 per cent.
More than eight out of ten say it's been a success compared with only a third a year ago.
The RCI’s fifth annual internet recruitment survey, published by Cranfield School of Management and The Daily Telegraph, was based on responses from 1,553 public and private sector employers, half of whom had at least 250 employees.
The research also found that there has been a three-fold increase in the use of commercial recruitment sites to fill the most senior vacancies.
The number of firms turning to job boards to find directors has risen from four per cent to 13 per cent. Once again, almost three-quarters of them rate the exercise a success compared with just over half last summer.
However it is clear that commercial job boards still have some way to go before they gain widespread acceptance. More than four out of ten organisations said that they used their own corporate sites for recruitment compared to only a quarter using commercial services.
And where organisations do use job boards, they tend to focus on the recruitment of sales, IT and customer services staff.
According to Dr Emma Parry, a research fellow at Cranfield School of Management, the growing use of the internet reflects the need for employers to widen their potential pool of candidates and attract more applicants.
"The current state of the labour market means that it is increasingly difficult to attract suitable candidates, particularly at higher levels,” she said.
"Organisations are therefore spreading the recruitment net as wide as possible in order to find the best people". The findings also reflect the penetration of the internet into our homes as well as our workplaces, she added.
The Daily Telegraph’s Mark Payne said that he always believed that internet recruitment would eventually cover all the salary ranges across industry sectors and disciplines.
"These results are a clear sign that the internet has now established itself, in the minds of job hunters and recruiters, as an integral part of the recruitment mix,” he said.
But it is not just the top jobs that are being filled via the internet. There has also been a massive hike in the number of employers using corporate and commercial job sites to recruit unskilled and clerical staff. For example the number of firms using corporate sites to hire manual staff has risen from 14 per cent last year to 44 per cent this summer.
Yet despite the upsurge in the use of the internet, it is still far from being a ubiquitous medium. The research identified a hard core of about four out of ten employers who do not use the internet to recruit and have no plans to do so.
"There remains a lot of caution and confusion out there," Dr Parry said. "Some people have tried the internet and given up, but the technology is only a decade old and still in its infancy. Employers need to step back and look carefully at how best they can use the current offering on the Internet."