by Mark Mihelich

Face it: E-recruiting is recruiting in 2014. When you hear the word recruiting, it is fair to assume that at least some aspect of the process will be done electronically. Technology is ubiquitous in everyday recruiting.

“Anything that happens right now in recruiting is done electronically. Anything you do has an electronic aspect,” said Paul Harty, president of Boston-based recruitment process outsourcing firm SevenStep RPO.

The widespread adoption of the Internet and other technologies has played a large role in shaping the current state of the recruiting industry. Contrary to the initial expectations of some, the integration of electronic recruiting tools didn’t reduce the need for human involvement in the process. Rather, it increased it.

Harty said that when debuted in the mid-1990s, founder Jeff Taylor believed the job board site would eliminate the need for recruiting agencies. In reality, the opposite happened. Some 20 years after its launch, Monster Worldwide Inc.’s Internet job board ultimately proved to be another tool people use to connect with one another.

In other words, sourcing job candidates has become easier for recruiters because of Internet job boards, social media and applicant tracking systems — and the job of recruiters has changed because of it.

“I think recruitment has evolved in the last several years from a focus that was primarily on filling positions and achieving key recruiting metrics such as quality of hire, time to fill, cost per hire,” said Taryn Owen, president of PeopleScout, a Chicago-based RPO provider. “That has moved to playing more of a critical role of driving increased value and achieving key business results for the client.”

Hot, Hot, Hot

As evidenced by the widespread growth of the RPO industry in recent years, employers are turning more to recruiting agencies to give themselves an edge in the war for talent. And that war has led to a veritable human resources software arms race.

One of the hottest trends in recruiting is the development of tools that help companies measure the effectiveness of all the technological avenues that source candidates. Companies like Avature and TalentWise create candidate relationship management systems that allow an organization to use big data to track where their top candidates are coming from, for example; or even how many interviews are conducted per hire.

Other HR software companies, such as TalentBin Inc., which was acquired by Monster in February, are creating customer relationship management, or CRM, programs similar to those made by Avature or TalentWise that allow employers to search passive job candidates — those who are presumably content in their current jobs — Owen said.

The emphasis on passive job seekers has essentially forced employers to be constantly on the lookout for top talent. It has also led to organizations revamping their retention strategies. One of the ways companies set out to meet these goals is by adopting state-of-the-art CRM systems, which provide the data essential to a recruitment strategy overhaul.

“Positions are more accessible to the individuals that would typically be fine and happy in their current jobs,” Owen said. “All employees are certainly more exposed to opportunities available to them, which really means an organization needs to have a strong succession plan because their own employees have access to many, many opportunities.”

Although new technologies do and will continue to make it easier to source job applicants and find talent that isn’t actively seeking new opportunities, merely using that kind of software does not translate into an improved recruitment process. Having a strong company brand and recruiters that can effectively engage in a conversation with untapped talent is what determines the success of a recruitment strategy.

Max Mihelich is a Workforce associate editor. Comment below or email Follow Mihelich on Twitter at @WorkforceMax. You can also follow him on Google Plus.

Read Part 2 of this article about the role of social media in E-Recruiting.