There’s no denying that recruitment in the UK has changed drastically over the past decade (I mean, hasn’t everything?) But how?



The area of greatest change has been technology. In 1990 the only technical means of communication between a recruitment agency and an employer would have been via post, telephone, fax or telex. There was no email then and there were no mobile phones.


If an employer wished to attract applicants for a vacant position they would be limited to placing an advertisement in a local or in a national newspaper or magazine. There were no job boards, no websites and no social media.  Imagine a world without Jobsite and Reed? And Twitter? How did we survive?


As technology evolves so does the language we use, with new vocabulary being needed to describe the new means of communication. This new vocabulary would have been unimaginable a short 20 years ago. For example, can you imagine me as a proprietor of a recruitment agency in 1990 suggesting to an employer that I might send an email, a text, a tweet, or that I might Skype them or hook up with them on LinkedIn or Facebook? I also find the mental image of widespread panic in the workplace if someone mentioned rumours of bugs, or worse still if there was talk of a virus being present in the office, quite amusing.


Legislation and the Law


This was the next area of big change and it has had major implications for the recruitment industry in all stages of the sourcing and selection process. This could be seen in the type of Job Titles that were acceptable, the preparation of Job Descriptions and Person Specifications based on competencies required of applicants, the drafting of job advertisements, the CV short listing process, the drafting of interview questions, the documentation of interviews, the retention of interview records, and the feedback given to a candidate who has been not been shortlisted or who has not been offered a job they have applied for.


The Recession


Of all the different work sectors, the recruitment industry was definitely one of the ones that got hit the hardest in this last and longest recession.  Most recruitment activities were postponed or entirely avoided to reduce costs. Recruitment is always the first budget to be cut during a period of corporate belt-tightening (along with training and marketing). Fewer positions and more people searching for work is the painful bottom line.


In fact, recruitment is still heavily feeling the effects of this (just as beResources) , and according to a  recent CIPD/KPMG Labour Market Outlook survey, the jobs market will carry on shrinking over the next 3 years. This could be considered an advantage to recruitment companies especially the small ones: Zero attrition is neither possible nor desirable and therefore  companies must be prepared for attrition uncertainties. Recession is the right time to prepare a pool of talented employees for future. It also helps to avoid the situation of hiring in a hurry which may not only lead to wrong hiring but also involves high costs. It is interesting to look at how recruitment has changed over the past 10 years but it’s also equally as interesting to see how it will change over the next decade. With the speed of change increasing year by year – who can predict what the next 10 years will look like?

Tom Duffy