The Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Recruitment

Illustration of a hand holding a phone whose screen shows a woman holding a megaphone with a speech bubble over her head that says 'We are hiring!'

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 and 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, then 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 most 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 instead of 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 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. On the other hand, online job posts will stay live until the author or the host website removes them.

8. It’s accessible

No matter where you are in the world – if you have an internet-enabled device and connection, 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.

10. It allows confidentiality

Some employers prefer to keep their names or companies private. This is especially true when a job role or organisation is too sensitive or controversial to be advertised online. With online recruitment, employers can conceal the name of their firms or even search and contact candidates directly without the need of posting a job advertisement. 

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 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 longer can accumulate.

2. It can be difficult to measure their 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 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. It could lead to 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 job or requires somebody else to supervise the process closely.

7. It attracts fraudulent applicants

Some applications might be fake to get information about the company or hiring officer (a common espionage tactic). Simultaneously, 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.

8. It can affect communication 

Communicating with prospective employees through a screen can lead to misconstrued messages or wrong assumptions. However, talking to someone face-to-face can clarify what a person is like (at least by first impressions) while also maintaining clear communication with one another.  

9. It can lead to technical issues 

Whether you’re chatting to candidates via Skype chat or Zoom video calls, it can leave room for possible technical faults. It can be quite embarrassing for a recruiter to be suddenly switched out of a conversation or call due to an electrical outage, while having an unstable internet connection can be awkward. If your company hasn’t got a stable internet connection or a good grip on technology, it can be detrimental to your company’s reputed professionalism.  

10. You may miss out on great employees 

Online recruitment can sometimes fail to attract good employees if your company’s online persona isn’t up to scratch. Candidates usually rush to the organisation’s website or social media to get a sense of its reputation, mission, and overall culture. If they see that yours aren’t impressive enough, they may turn down the job proposal or just ignore your advertisement altogether.  

Of course, online recruitment is a valuable tool to be used when looking for new hires. The most effective strategy would be to conduct multiple simultaneous campaigns, including 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 14 June 2019 and was written in collaboration with Angela Stephanou.