Knowsley Council in Merseyside has introduced an interactive recruitment service, where applicants for council jobs can download application packs, including personalised job descriptions and information about the department they will be working for. They can also request an application pack and form to be posted to them, or complete an application form online.
Gaynor Coldrick, head of human resources at the council, said, "We are one of only a handful of local authorities that allow job applicants to apply in this way. While some have the facility to print off application forms, they do not have the full application pack details or the ability to submit application forms online. From the start it was obvious that we were embarking on an adventurous project."
The service is an extension of Knowsley Jobwatch, the council's fortnightly online recruitment circular, which local people have been using to access job vacancies for some time. In recent years, this area has proved the most popular aspect of Knowsley's website.
Every job advertised by the council, which employs 7,500 people, can be applied for online, from a director vacancy to a home care assistant. The only posts that cannot be applied for in this way are teaching positions because of the varied nature of application forms for these roles. The council is looking into standardising these forms so they may also be applied for online.
The fully interactive recruitment process was piloted for six months between May and November 2002. During that time, users fed back comments about the system to iron out any problems. Since then the scheme has proved successful. Between November 2002 and February 2003, 33% of all application forms have been downloaded or returned online.
Similarly, job centres have reported that the service is helping disadvantaged people apply for jobs with the council. By accessing the forms on screen, job centre staff can help people with literacy problems or a low level of basic skills by going through the application with them. Work is continuing to make the forms as straightforward and simple to fill in as possible.
Janet Orchard, director of corporate and customer services at the council, said, "A jobs mailer facility has recently been added to the system which enables people to register an interest on the website for certain types of job and then receive frequent updates regarding vacancies that match their specific requirements."
The traditional paper-based recruitment process will still continue alongside online recruitment, however in future the council may reduce the number of newspaper adverts it places due to increased publicity via the internet.
Councillor Margaret Flaherty, cabinet member for human resources, said, "This is an important move towards becoming an e-council. We are now one of the leading local authorities in this field. This process is more cost effective for the council and it should make the recruitment process easier for applicants, particularly those who are disadvantaged when it comes to applying using traditional methods."
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