Recruitment has changed dramatically since the first agencies opened their doors; believe it or not it’s been over 100 years since the first employment agency began in the UK, after the Labour Bureau act in 1902 and the Labour Exchanges Act of 1909. The recruitment industry boomed in the 1990’s alongside huge technological advances, namely computers and the internet.
The traditional recruitment agency, and indeed most agencies until the past ten years, relied on local employers, local media, and their shop front and candidate footfall to operate. Face to face meetings and candidate interviews were essential and high street recruiters volleyed for the on foot job hunters patronage. As time progressed records and searching, initially manual, became digital and large databases of potential candidates were created. In the mid 1990’s and early mainstream internet use the Job Boards were born and became prevalent late that decade.
From its birth in 1995 the internet grew from 16 million users worldwide just 0.4% of the population, to 305 million – and 5% in 2000, by 2005 888 million and 13.9%, and in 2010 1966 million and nearly 30% of global population. The percentages in the developed world are of course much higher, by 2000 in the UK 26.2% of the population used the internet, in 2005 this had more than doubled to 59.8% and by 2010 was 82.5%.
The recruitment agency changed; the local focus became blurred as candidates mobility worldwide increased, and was facilitated by the ability to search for vacancies online and submit CV’s or email applications, widened the candidate pool. Recruiters too found it easier to cover wider geographic areas and national specialists emerged. By the onset of the 21st Century meeting a candidate face to face was no longer an essential first stage, and the majority of applicants no longer “walked in”.
The internal structure of recruitment firms changed too and successful larger firms invested in larger IT and Marketing teams and most agencies opted for a professional website design with integrated job board technology. Today your website is your shop front, although you may still have a physical one too, most candidates will visit your website first and gain that important initial assessment of what you can offer them. As the demand for skilled staff continues and the recession subsides the competition for candidates will once again be fierce. In these technologically expert times, how you utilise the internet, and most importantly your recruitment website and social media engagement, will determine your popularity and your success.