A Decade in Recruitment: What Has Changed and What Hasn’t?

After starting out in recruitment myself just under 10 years ago and Opus starting up just over 10 years ago I thought it would a good time to look back at the last decade to see how it has changed, I would be interested to hear anyone else’s thoughts on this (I’m sure there are a few other “Decade Recruiters” out there).

Twelve years have passed since the first iPhone arrived on the scene, and it was only nine years ago that the iPad entered the workplace. In that relatively short space of time, the employment landscape and recruitment industry has dramatically changed to adapt to our brave new digital world.

The days of working nine to five and sitting at the same desk for five days a week are disappearing. The motivations of potential candidates have evolved too. Businesses must also change if they are serious about attracting talent to their company. It will take more than a gold watch after 25 years of service when a skilled employee knows they can secure significant salary increases by changing employers every three years.


Another harsh reality is that the majority of millennials and Gen. Z-ers wouldn't recognize job boards from a decade ago. They certainly wouldn't have the patience to wait for the jobs section to be published in their local or national newspaper. Wading through a long and mundane list of links across a variety of online job platforms is also out of the question too.


In a customer-centric age where real-time personalization and experiences are the new currency, recruitment is changing too. We have witnessed the arrival of many sophisticated recruitment platforms that match suitable candidates to employers based on skill sets and experience. But possibly most importantly of all, a mutual alignment in aspirations.

The Tables Have Turned

Many headlines in our newsfeeds suggest that it's emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the rise of automation that is changing how we work. However, the most significant change in recruitment over the last decade is the shift in power from employers to applicants.

Many will remember when an interview consisted of an employer arrogantly asking a candidate to showcase their talents and prove why they should be deemed worthy of joining the company. The harsh reality for businesses is that people are no longer posting dozens of envelopes into a mailbox in the hope that an HR manager will phone them about an application.

In a bizarre twist of fate, the tables have now completely been turned. If an employer wants to secure the best talent, it must compete in the same way that applicants used to ten years ago. Both parties are now building relationships and meaningfully engaging through networks and online communities to determine what is the right fit for them as an individual or indeed, an organization.

Candidates want a potential employer to highlight what it can offer them rather than the other way around. Salary, benefits packages, and company culture are often ironed out before even reaching the interview stage of the recruitment process. Digital natives know precisely what they want from an employer and will have no problems in asking difficult questions in the early stages of their application.

Why Company Culture Is King

In a digital age of unprecedented openness, we are entering a new era of greater trust and transparency. Instead of resisting these changes, businesses should embrace the fact that it will help them find the right person for the job and their company.

One of the most significant changes over the last decade is the increasing focus on ensuring that a job candidate is the right cultural fit for their organization. The cost of a bad hire is well documented. But we are only just beginning to understand how one new employee will contribute to the morale of the entire business.

Finding a team member has become much more complicated than finding someone with the right skills and perfect answers to the cliched interview questions. How a new hire interacts, collaborates, and adds value to a team is now top of employers wish list. Additional technical skills can always be taught, whereas the right attitude cannot.

Initially, there was a little resistance to video interviews over the more traditional face-to-face meetings. But this is changing too. Recruiters, employers, and candidates are all leveraging online tools and building both relationships and trust well before engaging in the recruitment process.

An interview on Zoom or Skype also enables both parties to have a chat at a time that fits the schedules of everyone involved. Traditionally candidates were forced to face the awkwardness of making an excuse to book an afternoon off work. The ability to record an interview from any location at a time that works for both parties will also help the employer come across as a progressive company.

Some Things Will Never Change

Over the last ten years, job-seekers have regained control over recruiters and hiring managers. The rise of sites like GlassDoor now provides unprecedented visibility and insights into working conditions at every company. Equally, businesses need people that are not afraid to learn new skills and continuously adapt to a changing business environment.

However, there are many areas in recruitment that haven't changed over the last decade and are unlikely to change too much in the future. Although technology is making lives easier for both candidates and recruiters, there will never be a substitute for speaking to people face to face.

Employers are waking up to the fact that providing a positive candidate experience is an easy way of securing a competitive advantage. But recruitment is and always will be a people business. Employees, candidates, and clients will always be the critical differentiator that ensures the long-term success of everyone involved in the process.

If you have any feedback on this, whether you agree, disagree or just want to discuss how these changes might affect you (either as a hirer or job seeker in tech) please get in touch or leave your comments -  


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