10 Years in Recruitment and how things have changed! Or have they?

Guest post by Mark Grigg

When I started in recruitment 10 years ago this month, I could never have imagined the fast pace at which things could and have changed in so many aspects of the recruitment cycle. Some, I hasten to say, for the better and perhaps a few for the worse. Here are a few of the areas where I have seen significant changes.


One of the ways that the market has been negatively affected is that it there is much less personal contact than was expected 10 years ago. This has devalued consultancy at its best and provoked much bad press about the perceived “shark” culture in most consultancies.

In the past, job seekers (whether candidate or recruitment consultant) actively visited potential employers to find out if they had any openings. In my experience, with the on-set of technology this is far less prevalent. Also it is no longer considered “best practice” for larger, non-specialist agencies.

In today’s job market, candidates email CVs to companies which they may never actually follow up. This leads to less personal contact and a lower likelihood of being hired. Often they have not invested time in researching the company culture and the intricacies of what the vacancy actually involves which is rarely evident in a short online advert.

There are lots of reasons in recent years why consultants and job seekers alike have chosen to hide behind a terminal or keyboard. If you are passionate about a new challenge,   relationships are critical to your success. Typically people do buy people, not a piece of paper or an email.

Social Media as a networking tool

Another change in the job market involves social networking. In the area of job seeking, it always pays to know the right people. Online networking was in its absolute infancy 10 years ago and has evolved massively to being an intricate part of any hiring strategy. In the past, you had to actually know someone personally before they could help you get a job, this I believe to still be the very important however; with social networking, you can virtually ‘know’ them and get help with your job search.

Social networking allows you to vastly increase your circle of influence and get to know people in many different industries who could potentially help you get a job. For retailers, embracing digital technology has been high on the priority list for the past few years. As customer service becomes ever more important across different media and platforms, demonstrating a keen interest in this area will only add value to your job search.

Recruitment – a quicker process or not?

The Internet makes everything accessible so it’s no surprise that the introduction and growth of technology has streamlined and quickened the recruitment process at the front end. Whereas hard line advertising in newspapers/press and offline job applications was still a large proportion of the day job 10 years ago, I cannot remember the last time someone posted a CV to me! The Internet has made the recruitment process much easier and simpler to handle. You can now email a consultant and within seconds expect a reply, mostly automated and extremely frustrating to job seekers, however a necessary evil for most recruitment firms! This also applies to posting vacancies as most job boards are now extremely accessible and user friendly. It takes minutes to load a vacancy whereas it would have taken days or weeks to appear in a publication – now it can be online within minutes for all to see.

The Internet

The internet has allowed recruiters to work on a much larger scale than they have done before. How? Well, as a recruiter with access to the Internet, you can post multiple job advertisements for many different roles and manage those communications from one place, whether that is your inbox, a special portal or software system. It means that you can do more work, advertise for more jobs and hire more people which of course is every recruiter’s aim. In my humble experience, in an industry that is over 100 years old, all of the above makes for a more time efficient recruitment process but what still remains vital for all successful recruiters or job seekers is the personal touch.

Search engines, such as Google, have made the research side of recruitment much easier and much more thorough too. In the past, it would have taken several phone calls and several meetings before we had all the information we needed about a client. Still an important part of the process but the time saved is now available to add value to the candidate. A quick google search can throw up most of the necessary information or is certainly a good place to start.

10 years ago, if someone had mentioned a Skype interview you’d wouldn’t have had a clue what they were talking about (until recently, me neither!). Now, it seems that interviews over Skype and other online portals are commonplace and often replace the traditional face-to-face meetings. Indeed, one client I recently worked with closely in the UK insisted that the Skype interview be part of the process. If you are recruiting for an American office but are based in the UK, you can now skype or use other specialist software; Thus cutting down vastly on time and money invested and avoiding the hassle of booking flights and arranging hotels.

Changes in recruitment legislation

This has changed for the better, professionalising the industry and regulating it much more closely and it has had major implications for recruitment at all stages of the sourcing and selection process. This can be seen in the type of advertised Job Titles that are now acceptable, the preparation of Job Descriptions, drafting of job non-discriminatory advertisements, the CV short listing process, interview questions, documentation of interviews, retention of interview records, and the reasons given to a candidate who has not been shortlisted or who has not been offered a job they have applied for.

In its most basic form recruiters must not only be fair but must be seen to be fair, in most cases treating people how you would expect to be treated yourself and not just seeing candidates as a product or an easy route to some commission.

In 2004 there were fewer tightly controlled preferred supplier lists (PSL’s). Employers handed out vacancies to a wide range of recruitment agencies on an indiscriminate basis without taking any steps to ascertain the professionalism of such agencies. This is unusual these days, recruitment companies are vetted much more closely before being put on a PSL.

Competency based interviewing or behavioural interviews were also not as widely used 10 years ago, whereas they have since become the norm as they give the interviewers a much greater insight and structure, allow clients to convey a more professional image and of course providing evidence if required about why a candidate may not have been successful.

Documentation of interviews was limited in the past but it has become more widespread in recent years particularly with larger agencies keen to earn external audit accreditations – particularly important within the Finance and Public sectors.

In summary, although the technicalities of recruitment and the tools that are used to improve the processes are vastly different from 10 years ago, in reality most is largely the same – it is how you get to the end result which differs.

For me, all the tools and speed efficiencies formulates the same old argument in recruitment –  Quality v/s Quantity – which can be qualified and quantified within many aspects of our trade.

Passionately I believe in adding value and that personal relationships make the better agencies stand out. Increasingly it is about what you can offer your client not what they can offer you. Whether you are candidate, consultant or client we must not lose sight of taking the time out of our very busy schedules for personal interaction which fundamentally has not changed and in my opinion will not change in the future.

Mark Grigg has spent the last 10 years in retail recruitment and we are delighted to welcome him to AdMore this month.


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