Purpose ‐ The internet is initially hailed as the future of recruitment and is expected to replace other media as the preferred recruitment method, but the adoption of online recruitment has not been as comprehensively predicted. In addition, empirical research regarding online recruitment from an organisational perspective is sparse. This paper aims to examine the reasons behind an organisation's decision to use online recruitment, and reports on the development of a model of the factors affecting the adoption of this recruitment method. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper uses in-depth interviews and a survey of human resource (HR) managers with recruitment responsibility. The factors that affect the adoption of online recruitment are explored, and related to Rogers's diffusion of innovation theory (DIT) and Ajzen's theory of planned behaviour (TPB). Findings ‐ Factors related to the adoption of corporate web sites and commercial jobs boards are found to be different, with positive beliefs/relative advantage, subjective norms and negative beliefs emerging in the case of corporate web sites and positive beliefs/relative advantage and compatibility for jobs boards. These results provide some fit with both Ajzen's and Rogers' factors. Originality/value ‐ This paper addresses an important area that is under-researched academically and provides a basis for further research into how organisations may adopt online recruitment successfully.