Old School Recruitment – How’s it changed for you?

Monday 5th October 1998. Can you remember your first day in recruitment? What has been the biggest change you’ve seen or experienced? If you take away the technology we all use today. No LinkedIn, no CV boards to search. No Facebook, twitter or Google. No internet full stop. All you have is your phone and a fax. How long would most recruiters of today survive?   

I will never forget my first day, Monday 5th October 1998. Until that day I never actually knew recruitment existed. I’d never come across, nor heard of a recruitment agency. I’d never met a recruitment consultant, and the truth be known the only reason I’d accepted this job in recruitment was due to my cousin telling me to work for him as he’d set up a recruitment agency.

Day one I was still pretty clueless as to what the job involved, and to complicate matters more I was now an IT Recruitment Consultant. Other than playing ‘Donkey Kong’ on an old hand held electronic game, I had zero IT experience. I’d never used a computer at work, only a phone. My typing skills included me using one finger on each hand, one of which was constantly on the space key (I now use three fingers and a thumb).

I had a stack of calling cards with a company name, and phone number. That was it. I now think back and wonder how the hell I generated money from just a phone, and them calling cards.

I touched on this in an article I did the other day (Time to type? ‘You’ve got time to talk’), whereby 90% of my day was spent on the phone. Every single client contact was sourced by way of phoning up the company and asking for their name. I remember one of the ways I would generate a list of names to headhunt was by finding out one person’s name within the IT department, then speak to another individual within the IT department telling them I was organising a surprise birthday party such a person, and would they be able to send me a list of his/hers co-workers so I could send out some invites. I can imagine some of you now cringing at the thought of this. I must have organised more surprise parties that year than most people do in a lifetime.

The one thing I will never forget is the time my company first introduced Monster as a tool for us to search for candidates CVs. That for me was when I saw the biggest change in recruitment. Overnight the atmosphere changed from an office full of consultants stood up speaking to clients and candidates over the phone, to an office of consultant sitting at their desks in deep concentration. We had gone from an office full of vocal sound, to an office where all you would hear was the scroll of a mouse, and the click of a keyboard. That one tool had revolutionised the way our company started to work. 

Like most things in life, businesses, and how we conduct our business is forever evolving. Take away the internet as a tool for recruiting now. How would recruiters survive?

I’d love to hear what has been the biggest change you have seen since starting out, and how you could imagine recruitment to be without an internet connection.

Views: 972

Comment by Anthony Wilkinson on November 29, 2012 at 9:00am

Thomas your post certainly brings back memories.  I started on this venture around the same time you did and remember calling into companies sourcing people.  I often wonder how today's recruiters would fare.

Comment by Tim Spagnola on November 29, 2012 at 10:14am

Anyone else miss the fax? Sounds silly, but loved when those signature pages came across the wire to cement a placement.

Comment by Thomas Timperley on November 29, 2012 at 10:41am

Tim, I totally agree, it doesn't sound silly to me sir. I remember being stood at the fax sending out a CV mailer, and at the same time I'd be on the phone speaking to other client contacts, selling out the same CV (who say's men can't multi-task).

Comment by Malia Jorgensen on November 29, 2012 at 10:48am

I loved your article. I started recruiting in June 1998 and I remember cutting ads out of the paper, matching them to a resume and the cut/pasting them to a fax cover sheet and sending to clients as a way to drum up business.  We also had a "hot list" of candidate descriptions we used to mass fax out to clients once a week.  I don't miss those days at all. The technology today makes it so much easier.  I think recruiters newer to the business can forget sometimes though that technology doesn't replace human connection.

Comment by Alex Roberts on November 29, 2012 at 11:06am

June 10, 1996.  

I remember some company posted an ad in the local paper (I'd search for leads) for a Windows LAND Administrator, haha.  Damn, I miss Windows for Workgroups...  And our "ATS" was a DOS program.

Comment by Thomas Timperley on November 29, 2012 at 11:07am

Malia - you hit a flash-back there with the candidate "Hot List", brilliant. You're right in what you say; technology makes life so much easier. How we use the technology matters a greatly, and in many cases can make, or break a recruiter. I think some of the technology people use today can make them feel like they've done a great deal of work, when reality is in fact, they haven't. I remember one consultant telling me he'd had a brilliant week; he'd sent out over 600 emails this particular week. If only I'd kept a copy of the email he'd sent, so i could show you. Poor would be a polite descriptive.

Comment by Sara Grech on November 29, 2012 at 11:15am

I got into the  industry around the same time.  We were terrified of what the effect Monster and Workopolis would have in our billings. Ultimately, I believe we benefited from it to a great extent.  What I feel is truly affecting our industry is Linkedin and other 'free job boards' as it provides a forum for people to post their "resumes" so to speak but not be questioned by their employer and the fact that organizations can now reach out directly to passive candidates so easily.  This does work for us recruiters in sourcing candidates if our clients are not using Linkedin but organizations are using it more and more.  The fact that Linkedin, Indeed and other job boards offer tremendous incentives and discounts to "corporations" and not to agencies is discriminatory and is wreaking havoc on your industry. If I am a willing paying customer I should be offered the same rates as any organization.

Comment by Amber on November 29, 2012 at 11:28am

Tom - Lol, I don't know if I would have been able to pull off the surprise party ploy!

Well, I didn't start in recruiting until 2009, so have had all the technology from the beginning. But most of my career has been in some sort of sales and definitely had many years of doing it "old school".

I do try and be sure I use the phone first, then go to email/text/etc. But I work with a very experienced person who goes email first, and is very successful. Overall, the technology makes some steps of the process easier, but there is never a substitute for actual conversation and interaction.

Comment by Thomas Timperley on November 29, 2012 at 11:38am

Amber - I do think it also depends on the market you deal in. When I used to specialise in IT some years back, I do believe a lot of IT people prefer email communication as opposed to telephone, so I can see how some people would preference email over telephone.

I'd still be interested to see how people would cope if we cut off internet connection for a week.

Comment by bill josephson on November 29, 2012 at 11:56am

In 1980 it was cutting out the Boston Globe help wanted pages for jobs every Sunday to match candidate to or get the job to work on as well as running third party agency advertisements jobs in the paper, ourselves.

Switchboard operator knew who the Finance Manager was and gave you their extension.  Resumes were mailed at a mail box through the post office.

I use the Internet to find some candidates but still intensively cold call recruit over 200 calls daily to reach my goal of 40 new people over the phone--yes I know few do that anymore.


So the biggest recruiting change for me in 32 years?

Easy.  Automation/technology has generally made recruiting highly impersonal with common courtesy of calls returned a thing of the past, commitment breaking a routine occurance, and character fleeting.


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