Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Recruitment firm fires up first SMS inquiry system

Overseas recruitment agencies are often perceived as vultures who exploit desperate and hapless jobseekers who want to work abroad. As a way of changing this image problem, a local recruitment firm is turning to information technology to improve their service and enhance the public’s perception on them in the process.

Intramuros-based JS Contractor Inc., which has deployed 100,000 Filipino workers abroad since 1977, is the first overseas recruitment agency to utilize the Interactive Recruitment Information System (IRIS), an online initiative that allows applicants to easily monitor the recruitment process.

Recently, it further embraced IT as a way of life when it became the first recruitment firm to tap SMS or text messaging as a customer service tool. Simply called JSCon SMS, the service extends the capabilities of the IRIS to the mobile phone.

Mary Jean Borra, president of JS Contractor Inc., said they decided to employ SMS in their system because the mobile phone is the most pervasive and practical communication tool available in the country.

"This will save them a lot of money, especially for those applicants who are based in the provinces. Now, they will no longer need to go to our office to follow up on their applications," she said.

At R2.50 per message sent, Borra said this is much cheaper compared to traveling to the agency’s recruitment centers or even renting a PC in an Internet cafĂ©.

The SMS service, according to recruitment head Ronald Remolano, would also significantly reduce the manpower hours spent entertaining hundreds of inquiries from job applicants.

The text service is for simple job search, monitoring, and inquiry purposes only. The submission of paper documents should be done at the agency’s recruitment offices in Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Aklan. Online applications, however, can be made at

To register for JSCON SMS, applicants can key in ON JSCON and send to 2800 for Globe and Touch Mobile; 216 for Smart and Talk n; Text; and 2288 for Sun subscribers.

Synermaxx Corp., an up-and-coming third-party mobile services provider, is implementing the SMS service for JS Contractor.

According to Remolano, an engineer, the company’s multi-million investment in IRIS made it easy for them to add the text messaging service, as this uses the same infrastructure of the online system. "Without the IRIS as a backbone, it would not have been possible for us to offer the SMS service."

Borra, for her part, reckoned that instead of buying new cars for its executives, the company opted to spend the money to buy the equipment needed for the system. But it’s all worth it, she said, after IRIS brought unprecedented benefits never before seen by the agency.

"The employer can view our data pool and submit their manpower requirements from anywhere, anytime.

Applicants, in turn, may also view their recruitment status from the time of selection up to their deployment," she said.

IRIS has also simplified company operations that the actual recruitment costs have gone down by as much as 60 percent, according to Borra, adding that their applicants are never charged with placement fees.

"From two months job application processing, it now only takes an average of three weeks to complete the whole recruitment process," she said.

Proving that the company has fully embraced modern technology, its headquarters in the ancient district of Intramuros is Wi-Fi enabled and houses a 24/7 videoconferencing facility for foreign clients who want to interview applicants.
By MELVIN G. CALIMAG . Manila Bulletin

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