This week we celebrate our 16th year of being in business! During that time, our team have seen some groundbreaking changes in technology. At the time, we wondered whether they would be just fads. Although throughout the years, technology has completely revolutionised the recruitment industry and enabled our business to flourish. We take a look back over the last sixteen years and consider how advances in technology help recruitment improve over time.
A Day In The Life Of An Old School Recruitment Consultant
David and Nick, our founders, first started in recruitment in the 1990s. Landline phones and fax machines were the most advanced recruitment technology available. Although the worldwide web was a thing, many people still didn’t have access to a home computer at that time. For this reason, many job seekers still chose to submit their application by post.
A recruiter’s day started at 8 am and finished long after 8 pm. Such late starts and early finishes were necessary because the beginning and end of the day were the only times we could reach potential candidates. Mobile phones were unheard of so it was only possible for candidates to talk on their landline before they left home in the morning or after they returned from work in the evening. If consultants were lucky, they might occasionally have been able to reach candidates via their pager or dial in message answering service. In which case, they would return recruiters’ calls from a telephone box during their lunch break.
Recruitment consultants dedicated the rest of their day to business development and client account management, which was mostly done by phone. However, there were no customer relationship management systems back then. Instead, recruiters relied on their Filofax or Rolodex. As you can imagine, filling a vacancy was incredibly time-consuming!
How Technology Improved Recruitment in the Noughties
Thankfully, for our directors, by the time they set up in business together in 2004, the internet and email were becoming more commonplace. Job hunters were beginning to feel more at home with the concept of applying to job postings on job boards. These things combined speeded up the hiring process considerably, which had a massive positive impact on success rate in filling vacancies.
Applicant tracking systems (ATS), while adding another step to the recruitment process turned out to be a godsend for recruitment consultants! In the past, CVs submitted by multiple agencies often resulted in costly disputes. Such disagreements would often result in employers rescinding offers of employment or even legal action. The introduction of ATS meant that every single detail of a candidate applying for a job goes on record, so there is no longer room for dispute.
In the twenty-tens, LinkedIn and other social media platforms began to catch on. This presented more opportunities for recruitment consultants to network with businesses and candidates. You might think this would make it easier for hiring managers to reach top talent. Instead, it had the opposite effect of making the most talented professionals warier of connecting with recruiters.
The recruitment industry quickly realised that having the technology to reach candidates is not enough on its own. Recruitment consultants who are experts in their field became more vital for talent acquisition. This dramatic shift in candidate attitudes saw many companies resorting to recruitment process outsourcing.
How Recent Advances in Technology are Helping the Recruitment Industry
The build-up to the 2020s has seen several new recruiting technology solutions which at first looked like an expensive fad. The industry couldn’t help but wonder how artificial intelligence or video technology would catch on. Candidates were still struggling to trust recruitment consultants on LinkedIn, so how would they feel about interacting with us virtually? Or even with robots?
At first, many companies were slow to adopt these new technological trends. However, the coronavirus epidemic forced businesses to embrace remote working and hiring quickly. All of a sudden, every company in the world needed to go digital to survive. Even the most staunchly traditional of our clients changed their attitudes overnight.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the recruitment industry ground to an abrupt halt. But as redundancies became a frightening reality for many, technology came to their rescue:
- VOIP systems and web-based recruitment software made it possible for recruitment consultants to work from home
- Chatbots enabled businesses to keep up with the increase in candidate enquiries
- Artificial intelligence eliminated many of the more menial tasks from the hiring process, allowing recruiters to focus on more urgent tasks
- Video interviewing replaced traditional face to face interviews enabling us to continue making job offers while keeping our clients and candidates safe
A Few Final Thoughts on Recruitment Technology
Whenever technology lets us down, we often reminisce about the days before the internet, fax machines and good old pen and paper. Although it’s no doubt, recruitment technology has made our lives easier and shortened our working days.
Many apps promise to transform the way we recruit. But where some have failed to deliver, others have stood the test of time. It’s hard to know without the benefit of hindsight, which will improve our lives or be a waste of time and money. Therefore, common sense and a great deal of research are necessary before making a serious investment.
Our business owes much of its success to embracing these advances in technology. However, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from sixteen years in business, it’s that recruiters can’t merely rely on technological advancements to carry them along. Recruitment consultants must be good at their job to thrive in the digital age. Digital recruitment tools may help us research the market and manage our recruitment pipelines, but they will never replace the human touch of a quality consultant.
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