The Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Recruitment

An HR manager interviewing a young woman in a bright, white office

As recruiters begin to migrate into the digital realm, online recruitment has quickly become the preferred means of talent scouting. As a result, many companies are now paying closer heed to their online recruiting strategies, with social media proving a particularly effective way of sourcing new employees.

Indeed, professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn have created a targeted, easily accessible pool of candidates, allowing recruiters to prescreen potential hires based on the information on their profiles. However, as with any tool or method, there are disadvantages to using it.

To give you some examples, we’ve compiled a brief overview of the main advantages and disadvantages of using online recruitment, including the most important things you should consider when e-hiring.

So, if you’re thinking of taking your next employee search online, this is what you need to weigh up.

The Advantages of Online Recruitment

As you will see below, the benefits of online recruitment are numerous. Some of the biggest plus points are as follows.

1. It’s Cost Effective

When you post a job ad on Facebook, you can pay for as much or as little exposure as you want, as well as target it to a very specific audience. Indeed, if you manage your campaign effectively, you can save plenty of precious cash, while attracting applicants who are the perfect fit for your vacancy.

2. It’s Immediate

Most job posts – and replies – appear in real time. This can help you either increase your efforts to attract more candidates, a different set of candidates (early- instead of mid-career professionals, for example) or even stop candidates from applying if you’ve already found the right person for the job.

3. You Can Reach a Bigger Audience

The internet is a global phenomenon, with more and more users gaining access every day, while in most developed countries, internet usage is extremely high. Therefore, you are gaining exposure to a huge potential pool of applicants.

If you are looking for younger recruits in particular, than e-recruitment is probably the single most effective and efficient strategy possible; in the US, for instance, 98% of the 18–29 age group are active internet users.

4. It’s Easy

Almost anyone can post a job advertisement online, because the majority of established job boards make the process clear, easy to understand and user-friendly.

Conversely, the process is very simple for the applicant, too, making it quick and painless for interested parties to apply on the spot, as opposed to mailing CVs and written applications through the post.

5. You Can Make Your Job Ad More Dynamic

Posting a job online or via social media platforms gives you a chance to be more creative with your ad; for instance, you could create and attach a short video showing off the benefits of working for your company.

Indeed, your use of technology can actually say a lot about your company culture, helping to attract specific types of candidates in the process. Businesses that use technology in such a way prove that they aren’t afraid to innovate and that they are open to new and interesting ways of doing things.

6. It’s Flexible

The internet gives you plenty of flexibility with regards to controlling your posts and the applications you receive. If you post in a newspaper and want to amend the job advert, though, you would likely need to pay for an entirely new ad. With online posts, most platforms will allow you to edit, update or remove your job post whenever you wish.

7. It’s Durable

Newspapers and other forms of printed media have a very limited lifetime, dependent on their publishing cycle. Most classified publications have a biweekly publishing cycle, meaning that your ad will only be seen for that relatively small amount of time. Online job posts, on the other hand, will stay live until the author or the host website removes it.

8. It’s Accessible

No matter where you are in the world – if you have an internet-enabled device and connection, then you can perform all those management tasks described above. You can modify your job posting, see how many replies you have and even communicate with candidates directly.

9. It Expedites the Hiring Process

All of these advantages directly lead to the biggest one of all: a shortened hiring process. You can shortlist (or even directly contact) the best applicants as their applications come in, with the availability of integrated ATS software even doing most of the sifting work for you.

The Disadvantages of Online Recruitment

For all its perks, there are downsides to online recruitment that you should also think about. Consider some of the following.

1. Costs Can Spiral

Depending on the online platform you use, you may have to pay a subscription fee or other costs to post your vacancy. Some sites might even require a membership fee or charge for extra services like application tracking or analytics to manage your advert.

Also, if you are not getting the kind of response you’re looking for, the costs of leaving the ad to run can accumulate.

2. It Can Be Difficult to Measure Effectiveness

Not all online recruitment services offer an in-depth analysis of your posting; therefore, it can be hard to figure out what is and isn’t working and how to optimise your ad.

Of course, this is a common problem in offline recruitment, too, but it’s worth remembering that just because you’ve posted an ad online, it doesn’t mean that you will always have access to reams of metrics and supporting data.

3. It’s Informal

For some roles, companies perceive that online job postings – particularly on social media – can give off the wrong image of their company. This is particularly true for executive-level roles, particularly at firms (or in industries) that have a strong corporate or professional culture.

It’s not uncommon, for instance, for high-calibre firms to advertise C-level roles in reputable print publications such as The Economist or the Financial Times.

4. It Attracts Bad Candidates

As previously mentioned, it’s very easy for people to apply for jobs online; this can potentially be a negative point as well, though. Posting a position online usually results in hundreds of applicants, many of whom will not be suitable for, or serious about, the role, thus diluting the quality of your talent pool.

5. There’s a Lot of Competition

The main downside to following trends is that everybody else is doing the same thing. As a result, your post can quickly become buried under a mountain of other job offers, forcing you to either pay more for extra exposure or risk not being seen.

When it comes to social media, you’re also at the mercy of Facebook or Twitter’s algorithms, meaning that who you target is essentially in the hands of somebody else.

6. There Could Be Lost Labour Hours

If you are receiving large volumes of applications that need to be pruned, there are technical issues with the platform you are working with, or the job ad itself constantly needs to be changed, then the process can start to become difficult to manage. This either detracts you from other aspects of your own job or requires somebody else to supervise the process more closely.

7. It Attracts Fraudulent Applicants

Some applications might be fake, in order to get information about the company or hiring officer (a common espionage tactic), while spammers might use the information posted online to promote a service or product to your company.

If you give away too many details in your ad, malicious hackers can even use the information to potentially gain access to your company’s IT systems.

Of course, online recruitment is a valuable tool to be used when looking for new hires, but the most effective strategy would be to conduct multiple simultaneous campaigns, including the use of traditional media, headhunters and external recruiting agencies.

Have you ever successfully used e-recruitment? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments section below!


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 15 December 2016.