Online recruitment leads to older, better quality candidates

Jan 18 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Companies that use online job application systems, instead of more traditional paper-based recruitment methods, get a greater number of applicants aged over 30 and better quality candidates overall, according to new research.

The research by academics in Ireland and from Eastern Kentucky University in the U.S was presented last week at a conference of the British Psychological Society.

The study looked at concerns that the dramatic rise in the use of e-recruitment methods over recent years had lowered the number of applications from female and older candidates.

Conducted over the past four years, the research of more 3,000 people applying for administrative posts in the Irish Civil Service compared the type of people applying when the application process was paper-based and when it was done through e-recruitment.

In fact the number of older applicants (aged 30-60 years) increased with the use of the internet selection system, the survey found.

There was also no impact on the number of females applying for posts. In fact, the overall quality of candidates was shown to have improved.

Candidate scores on selection tests were higher for the online applicants than the pre-online applicants, said the BPS.

The results also showed new media could broaden the diversity of people attracted to, and brought into, organisations, said the BPS.

The society's conference also heard research suggesting that employees perform better at work if they have good psychological health and if their bosses show them commitment.

The study was conducted by Professor Cary Cooper, of Lancaster University Management School and director of Manchester-based consultancy Robertson Cooper, and polled 16,000 employees aged between 16 and 60 across 15 different organisations.

Participants completed a questionnaire designed to assess their levels of stress at work, rating their perceptions of work stressors, organisational commitment (both from and to the organisation) and their health.

In addition, they rated how productive they had felt in their jobs over the last three months.

Professor Cooper said: "We found that employees who rated their performance highly had better psychological health and rated their organisations as showing greater commitment to them. This suggests that employers' investment in the well-being of their employees is not just a moral obligation; it may also pay dividends in terms of productivity and profitability."

The conference also heard research suggesting that employees who feel a strong emotional bond to the organisation they work for are most likely to be willing to recommend the organisation to others and commit time and effort to help the operation succeed.

This research, by occupational psychologist David Sharpley, was based on a survey of more than 1,000 people working in local government.

Key aspects of management behaviour, coupled with the perception that the organisation supported people's development, were found to be critical in building a strong emotional bond and sense of engagement.

Employees who felt they were doing meaningful work, and were clear about the role they were fulfilling, were most likely to be highly motivated.

Low effort and disaffection were linked to a lack of role clarity and a feeling that work was not meaningful. By contrast, money was not found to be as important.

"Employee engagement has a direct effect on productivity, so it's important for managers to understand the factors that help build engagement and the barriers that stifle it," said Sharpley.

"This study reinforces how important it is that people know what they are doing, why they are doing it and feel that their personal development is supported by management," he added.