The Osborne show goes wireless

19 Aug 2003

From its offices in Dublin’s Baggot Street, Osborne Recruitment last year placed over 1,000 people into permanent and temporary positions. Its 22 staff process literally thousands of resumes per week sent in as email attachments submitted in response to specific adverts or purely on speculation. A fast, wireless internet connection is helping it to manage the load.

“We would typically register a couple of hundred CVs per week,” says Gerard Murphy, Osborne Recruitment’s general manager (pictured). Depending on the position in question, he explains, they could represent only one fifth of the total number received. “With the multi-lingual work, we would get maybe 50 CVs before we would register one or two people simply because of the blanket nature of the advert. For instance, if we run an ad for a French-speaking customer service agent we may get hundreds of CVs, but since we are looking for a particular type of applicant we would go through them and make a selection. Then we might have other specific roles, for instance a solicitor, and all the CVs we receive would be registered.” A speedy internet connection is important, he says, simply from a productivity perspective more than anything else.

“Also, because those very email attachments tend to get processed here and sent on to our clients, we really need the quickest possible connection,” he adds.

While Eircom and other telecommunications providers are now making ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) available in certain parts of the country, Osborne Recruitment has bypassed the traditional wired approach and gone for wireless instead.

The company uses Leap Broadband as its service provider. Owned by Charlie and Rory Ardagh, Leap Broadband uses unlicensed spectrum in the 2.5GHz band to provide a local loop independent of Eircom or indeed any other telco. A small antenna on the roof of the Osborne Recruitment building is oriented towards the nearest Leap base station. The antenna is connected to a small junction box in Osborne’s server room, which also connects to Osborne’s local area network giving internet access to all employees.

“Any decision is made on the bases of best service, quality and price,” says Murphy. “Leap came in with a competitive price and obviously we took the risk to go wireless.”

Leap offers connections speeds of up to 2Mbps. “Speed wise, it is something like 10 times faster [than a dial-up connection],” says Murphy. “But we don’t look at how many times faster it is. We look at how effective it is in allowing us to do our business and it is very effective. Before we had it installed, there was the pain of getting a very large attachment stuck in the pipeline and everything behind it getting caught up.”

In addition to receiving CVs by email, Osborne’s recruitment agents also use dedicated CV search engines in Ireland and overseas to locate suitable candidates to meet client’s needs. These are downloaded and along with submitted CVs are stored on one of the company’s servers. “We have more than one server,” explains Murphy. “We have our data management software, Arithon, on one. That is a recruitment-specific database management system. We also have our normal file server where all the CVs are held. We have the ability to index across the two servers in order to run keyword searches and so on.”

The company also handles the payroll for approximately 150 temporary workers placed with clients. Payment is on the basis of weekly timesheets faxed in by the temps. But instead of going to a fax machine, the timesheets go to a fax server, which converts each fax to a graphic file that is then emailed to the payroll clerk.

Leap Broadband’s service differs from wired DSL services by the fact that it offers high-speed uploading as well as downloading. With such a symmetric internet connection in place, the company is now looking at telework solutions using an ASP version of the Arithon application. “This will give people flexibility in their working hours. They will be able to work from home part of the day and come into the office to do interviews. I think if we go down that road – and we’re not very far from that now – we’ll probably need to put broadband access into their homes. I think the price points now are economically viable,” says Murphy.

Until then, however, the symmetric connection is still proving useful. “We would receive more data than we send out, but it’s not enormously disproportionate. If we get 200 great CVs, then we send 200 CVs to the client,” he adds. The company also runs a comprehensive website, which is constantly being updated with new vacancies and testimonials. “The site is quite dynamic,” says Murphy. “We are always doing special promotions and so on. We actually put a lot of information on it so the symmetric feature is quite important.”

Overall, Murphy is quite happy with the technology. “It’s certainly one of those systems that, so far, has given us no problems at all and is just so much in our day-to-day business. We don’t need to understand the speed or the technology. It just solves our problems,” he concludes.

By David Stewart