Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

New code of practise for online recruiters - 10/2000

AOLR sets standard

The growth of online recruitment over the last year has, by anyoneís standards, been phenomenal. There are now more than 300 dedicated recruitment businesses in the UK using the Internet as their principal medium. This whole new sector has sprung up alongside traditional bricks and mortar recruitment companies, a high proportion of which are themselves integrating online and offline strategies to increase their Internet presence.

While the standards and practices of the recruitment industry are strictly regulated by an established and highly regarded code of practice, through the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the emergence of this new ëvirtualí sector has thrown up a whole raft of issues unique to online operation which have, until now, not been officially addressed.

As with any new business sector experiencing such rapid growth, there have inevitably been some reports of poor practice and low service levels. As well as attracting experienced industry professionals who have recognised the need and opportunity to respond to a rapidly changing labour market, online recruitment has also attracted many inexperienced players who are unable to deliver a service of an acceptable quality. Some Internet recruitment companies have already disappeared without a trace, yet the demand from both employers and employees for this fast-turnaround, direct control method of recruitment continues to increase.

The REC, together with leading on-line businesses, is launching the Association of Online Recruiters (AOLR). It has been established by leading online businesses to provide the sector with a single, effective body to deliver improved standards and promote a wider understanding of the issues unique to online recruitment. Members will have to adhere to a new, specialist code of conduct as well as the REC Code of Good Recruitment Practice.

According to Don McIntosh, Chair of AOLR and UK general manager - Top Jobs on the Net, the association is believed to be one of the worldís first specialist bodies looking at standards in the online recruitment industry. As such, it is attracting considerable interest from both the media and legislators in the UK and abroad.

The AOLRís mission statement is, ìTo advance online recruitment in the UK and promote the highest ethical standards amongst its members, thereby safeguarding the interests of jobseekers and recruiters alike.î

The Code of Practice has been completed, addressing issues such as:
Privacy; originator authority for online display of information; keeping information updated and ëcurrentí; use of ëtrafficí figures; provision of terms of business; and conforming with relevant current legislation.

As well as establishing best practice and high standards for online recruiters, the new association will actively be promoting the benefits of online recruitment to Government and other bodies, organisations and authorities, plus employers and job candidates. Its terms of reference include creating training, information sharing and networking opportunities for people involved in the sector, as well as studying and disseminating information about relevant new legislation, technology and business products.

ìMembership of AOLR will become synonymous with quality service and accountability,î continues Don McIntosh. ìThis in itself will do much to promote member companies to their target users, as well as increasing access to information and representation at all levels of government and commerce. The benefits of membership will be tangible for those willing to make a commitment to quality and good practice.î

All members of AOLR must also be members of the REC, satisfying the criteria of both. Any company with less than one yearís trading will have to become an associate member of the REC before qualifying for full membership, unless the director of a new company is experienced in recruitment matters and already known to the REC.

As well as filling out a detailed application form, prospective members will need to provide written commitment to the REC and AOLR codes of practice, plus references from commercial and professional sources. As a final confirmation of suitability, names of prospective members will be published in the REC magazine, giving established members the opportunity to feed back on their suitability based on their knowledge of the market place.