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This is Recruitment ’90: How Recruitment Has Changed

Published: Monday 14th September 2015

CV on a clipboard with a pen on top of it and calculator beside it


We take a look at the way recruitment has changed since the days of Game Boys, scrunchies and New Kids on the Block.

Paper CVs

Before email became the main mode of communication between recruiters and job seekers, recruiters would find their desk covered in a pile of paper CVs, which were either posted or faxed to them. These CVs would then have to be filed and entered into an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which had just become the standard way of enabling recruiters to find and source candidates much quicker. These days, most details are digitally entered into well-developed management systems at the moment of application.

The Use of Telephones

Communication in 1990 was very different than it is today, with recruiters frantically using post, fax, telex, and telephones to do their jobs. Although email was on the rise in the 1990s, the telephone remained the most important tool in reaching out to clients and candidates. Telephone screening, instead of the modern version of keyword matching, added a more personal touch to recruiting. Communication skills were of the essence. For example: if a candidate lacked certain keywords or ‘buzzwords’ as they were called in the 1990s, on their CV, it was pretty standard to speak to a client over the phone to try and convince them of a candidate’s suitability for the role. These days, the more modern ‘techno-recruiting’ techniques often automatically label the candidate unsuitable

A Change In Accessibility

Although the lack of technology created a busy work environment during the day, the working hours for recruiters in the 1990s were much clearer defined. There were no important emails at midnight, no early morning text messages and no never-ending Twitter requests.

No Social Media or Job Boards

In the early 1990s, the Internet was still in its infancy and social media was not yet around. So how did recruiters cope? Much of their job relied on old-fashioned face-to-face networking, including the follow-up of personal recommendations, staying in touch with candidates who are already on their books and raising mouth-to-mouth awareness of current jobs. Because of a lack of job boards and websites, recruiters had to reach out to new candidates by placing ads in local or national newspapers and magazines. Although this had a certain charm, it did mean that recruitment was much slower. It could take up to two weeks to get advertisements printed and even longer before CVs from new talent would start to come in.

The Use of Business Cards

The non-existence of social media didn’t mean that recruiters didn’t feel a need to stay on track of their networking. Business cards were the 1990s equivalent of Facebook pokes or LinkedIn invites.

Technological developments have made recruitment not only faster, but smarter too. With so many agencies in the field, and so many candidates looking for new opportunities, what can recruiters do to stay ahead?

Zoek is smart job search site & app, designed to match candidates with recruiters at the touch of a button.
If you are a modern-day recruiter, you could Register Here to find the most suitable candidates with help from Zoek.

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