5 things that changed recruitment Forever

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We live in an age where we are bombarded daily with online innovations claiming to be “the death of recruitment”, the ”Uber of recruitment” or some other claim of industry wide apocalypse.

But recruitment has always been an industry in a state of flux.  It was born from the chaos of the wars at the start of the 20th century and has faced numerous shifts and changes since. 

Here are 5 industry wide shifts that have shaped what it means to be a recruitment agency.


This is where it all started.  Back in the day companies started to realise that they were expending a lot of resources on internal functions that weren’t their core capability.  They realised that the peak and trough nature of many of these functions justified outsourcing to ‘specialists’ hence recruitment was born as an industry. 

It grew quickly and is now a global $600bn industry.

The shift of recruitment from HR to Procurement

Recruitment agencies and HR have traditionally had a complex relationship.  But that tumultuous relationship was a walk in the park compared to what developed with procurement.  During the market turns of the 2000’s many multinationals pushed recruitment under the umbrella of Procurement.  All of a sudden, the process for selecting a provider of the organisations people fell to the same department managing the purchasing of pens.  In many instances the emphasis changed from value to price.  A downward push on margins led to the commoditization of many areas of the industry and a redefining of many others.

Internet advertising

Print media dominated the spend of recruitment agencies for the first decades of its existence.  Many agencies made almost as much from on-selling print advertising as they did from the recruitment fees themselves.  But the emergence of internet job boards (such as Jobserve in the UK, Jobnet and Seek in Australia) in the late 90’s and early 2000’s offered recruitment agencies unprecedented access to cheap, easy and extremely targeted advertising.  This lowered the barriers to entry and opened the way for smaller, less established agencies to compete on an equal footing with the old school monoliths who had dominated the papers.


Every market disrupter is inevitably doomed to have its own market disrupted and such was the case with internet advertising companies.  Social Media rose like an unruly teenager into the structured world of business technology and at its forefront was our good friend LinkedIn. 

The recruitment industry will always have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn. It makes our lives easier but in turn it reduces our necessity.  It has forever changed our value proposition to our clients (our “candidate database of over 200,000 professionals” looks a bit lame compared with the database of billions accessible to anyone with a LinkedIn profile).

The shift to internal recruitment

The global financial crisis (GFC) changed things for us forever. One of its most dramatic changes was the bringing back of the ‘in-house’ recruitment function.   We expected this to be rewound once the market picked up again, but it didn’t.  Companies realised that with an exceptional internal recruitment team, combined with full access to LinkedIn, they could find people for less cost than outsourcing.

Suddenly internal recruitment, for a long time viewed as the bastion of ‘burnt out’ recruiters who couldn’t hack it out here in the trenches, became home to some exceptional recruiters.  Salaries are high, the work is challenging and our industry has lost a lot of good players in this new market development. 

But as with all things even this new development is evolving and many internal recruitment departments are finding themselves treated as cost centers, subject to brutal budget cuts and increases in workload.

So what does the future hold? Here are my predictions

LinkedIn  – As LinkedIn becomes used more and more it will become saturated. People will move away from it as they get spammed by recruiters and internal recruiters.  New technologies will rise. We’ll then need to infiltrate those.

Video – I believe that video will be a major disrupter to our industry.  Most video solutions are currently aimed at internal recruitment, there isn’t a lot out there that addresses the nuances of the agent / client relationship. But solutions will rise that will forever change how we utilise video

Information exchange technologies – if everyone has access to it then it isn’t a differentiator.  Technologies that utlise shared information between organisations, such as iProfile will change our industry again as we seek to find value adds that aren’t available to our clients directly.

Access to mobility technology – as globalisation continues its rapid progression, so connectivity between talent on a global scale will continue to increase. Our industry will need to reflect sites such as freelancer.com to connect our clients with resources on the international market

So the important question is, are you at the forefront of these changes? Do you want to be?  We did a survey of the market and found that only 13% of our industry are considered exceptional.  We think that innovation is at the forefront of being exceptional. We were named by Seek as Australia's Most Innovative Agency in 2017's SARA's. Are you excited about innovation in recruitment? Are you exceptional?  #areyouoneofthe13percent if you are then why not chat to us