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January 28, 2003
Employers Prefer to Receive Resumes Electronically
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loyers prefer to receive resumes from job hunters electronically rather than in hard copy format, according to the respondents of a new survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

But, as companies seek high-tech ways to become more efficient, finding an effective balance between high-tech and "high-touch" recruiting methods is a critical issue for recruiters, the authors of the survey say.

Although almost 85 percent of the employers who responded to NACE's survey said they do accept hard copy resumes, nearly 90 percent said they prefer to receive resumes electronically, through their web sites or via e-mail.

"Employers are always searching for ways to become more efficient," says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. "Accepting resumes through electronic means allows them to streamline their operations because these resumes are easier to store and manage."

Employers responding to NACE's survey indicated they prefer to receive resumes that are submitted electronically through their websites (47.8 percent), while another 42.1 percent favor receiving resumes via e-mail. Just 8.2 percent of the respondents prefer to receive hard copies of resumes, while 1.9 percent like to receive resumes by other means.

However, companies must be careful not to disconnect themselves from their potential employees, the authors say. College students, for instance, overwhelmingly prefer personal interaction throughout the recruitment process, according to results of a recent survey by the Scott Resource Group (SRG).

In an article that appeared in the Fall 2002 NACE Journal, Mary Scott, president of SRG, wrote: "[College students] do not want to connect with computers in lieu of people as they conduct their job search. In fact, many have less regard for widely used electronic tools than recruitment professionals might believe."

The SRG survey asked students to evaluate the characteristics of companies with "the most impressive and effective recruitment practices." Students rated "were represented by staff who favorably impressed me" and "sent recruiters to campus who knew how to interview students" as decided differentiators.

Many students object to online application processes because of how the technology is being used. Scott explains that, when a student with resume in hand approaches a company representative at a career fair and is told to apply online instead, that student inevitably (and oftentimes accurately) concludes that he or she will be "lost in the shuffle." Many respondents also expressed frustration with the time-consuming and frequently redundant nature of the online process itself. Chief among their complaints was when they had to reformat their resumes to accommodate each company's website, a practice that students say wastes their time and relegates them to relying on a very impersonal screening process. The online application processes are considered by the majority of students to be convenient for the employer, rather than the candidate.

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