08. 06. 2023

The evolution of recruitment over the last 20 years

The recruitment process has evolved significantly over the past two decades, where technology has played a big role in transforming and improving how businesses find new employees and candidates find new jobs. So how has recruitment has changed since the year 2000 and what advantages and challenges has this brought?

Do you remember the pre-Internet recruitment era where companies relied mainly on print advertising to find new employees? As a candidate, you would have to walk into a recruitment agency with your printed CV to register. If you were lucky, there would be a suitable role available at that time. Posters, leaflets, and other printed materials would spread the word to larger audiences, with the hope of connecting people to each other; it was a lot more passive…but it worked. Working in a high street agency at the time, I remember how quickly we could react to matching jobs and candidates, often recruiting multiple roles and booking in candidates on assessment days at very short notice. Companies looking for new employees would fax job descriptions to agencies to start the hiring process, we would often come into the office in the morning and find a range of new vacancies ready to find candidates for. 

Technology has had a tremendous impact on recruitment since the arrival of the Internet in the early 2000s. Social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, have become invaluable tools for employers and agencies to reach out to and recruit new employees. There are now a number of specialised job boards; there’s more choice but has this allowed a smoother recruitment process or do some people feel it’s information overload? I frequently hear candidates saying to me, “I just don’t know where to start my job search”.

The evolution of technology has had a transformative effect on the recruitment process, with companies moving to a more digital-focused approach. Candidates now apply for roles online, rather than in the traditional paper-based manner and many companies use an applicant tracking systems to manage their recruitment process, allowing them to have a centralised method to view and track applicants which has increased efficiency. Artificial intelligence (AI) has also been adopted within recruitment, with the help of chatbots and natural language processing (NLP) technologies. This has allowed recruiters and employers to more easily communicate and interact with candidates.

In addition to this, the emergence of remote working has allowed companies to recruit from a much wider talent pool and technology has supported this seismic shift.

The digitalisation of recruitment processes has provided numerous benefits compared to traditional methods. By shifting the process online, employers have become much more efficient in their hiring processes. It has become much easier for companies to reach a large number of potential candidates, which may enable them to fill positions faster and it’s made the application process for candidates much quicker. It’s created more choice on both sides, although some could argue this may not be a benefit.

Although digital recruitment processes have many advantages, there are also still challenges that come along with this. A major challenge is increased competition. Many companies are now competing for the same pool of candidates, making it more difficult to stand out and fill positions. This is mirrored by candidates who often feel they apply to higher volumes of jobs but with minimal response. In the last few years, there has been a huge change from formal, office environments, to hybrid or fully remote roles, and casual dress offices. Candidates aren’t comparing like with like anymore. Companies are finding that they need to make their offering more appealing than their competition. Another issue is around data privacy, GDPR and potential privacy risks associated with online recruitment.

The recruitment process has changed significantly over the past 20 years. The digitalisation of recruitment has provided businesses with greater efficiency, some cost savings and seemingly improved choice of candidates. However, there are still some challenges that businesses face in order to ensure successful recruitment. Companies will need to ensure they have up to date market intelligence to formulate their strategy in order to take advantage of the various opportunities that technology has to offer. Likewise, candidates can view their choices quickly online but may feel the time spent on applying doesn’t bring a return at the same speed.

And we must remember that although the use of technology has revolutionised the recruitment process, providing benefits to both employers and job seekers, there is still no replacement for old fashioned communication – whether it be a telephone call, email, in person or online meeting. The human side of recruitment has stayed the same throughout the years and I hope this will never change!  

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