The End of an Industrialized Recruitment Era

I recently got inspired by a discussion in our Career Network Switzerland group on LinkedIn to write a few words about this topic. This will not be a how to guide but should inspire you to think different and to reinvent yourself.


If you look at how the recruitment world evolved over the last century and recently over the last decades up to the recent years, it clearly came to a large shift from manual, decentralized work, to automated centralized work. Outsourcing, process improvements, optimization, faster, cheaper, more automated are they keywords of the automated and centralized era. This is about to change.



Recruitment Evolution

I talked about this topic a few months ago in Why Recruitment is Broken. You can read my view of the evolution there. Basically, the recruitment model has not changed a lot since the dawn of the industry. Technology improved and many standardized processes became automated. New tools like LinkedIn, Monster and Google grew from nowhere to the fastest growing companies in the world. However, the process itself stayed very much the same.



The Employer Age

If I were talking about business in general, I would be talking about the consumer age where the consumer is king and creates demand, not the companies.

In terms of the recruitment industry, I think it’s very similar. There is the distinction between the client and the candidate where the client is a company and the candidate is an individual job seeker. Most of the recruitment companies focus almost all of their efforts on the clients because they pay the fees and therefore generate the revenues. However, if there is no candidate to be hired, there is no fee.


Some companies adjusted to this model and focus more on candidates now. However, I believe the minor changes of the recruitment agencies do not reflect the massive changes in the industry itself. The employer can now choose where he or she wants to work. In many industries, i.e. IT, experts and leaders who are not simply looking for a job to pay their bills are so hard to find, that the ones who want to have an impact have more leverage than ever. And if you think about it, almost everyone working at any level in a company is an employee and belongs to the candidate side at some point.



A New Approach to Recruitment

Many companies focus on talent acquisition but try to do this through the same system they use since 20 years. It is very hard to promote a talent strategy and employer branding if the career page can hardly be found on the website or when applicants, even when they match perfectly with the skills advertised in the job description, receive generic rejection letters. 


I do understand that the workload and application flow is bigger than ever but I don’t see this being an excuse to not reinvent the system and solve the cause instead of fighting fires all day long.

I also understand that many important information can not be put into a job description. So why not inventing a new kind of medium to present these information in a new, more dynamic way? Why sticking with the same boring job adverts which are filled with generic nonsense and usually don’t tell potential employees anything about the company, work environment, the department and the benefits of working at this company?



The End of the Recruitment Factory

I think we arrived at a stage where we automated what we can automate and outsourced what we can outsource in recruitment. Machines are scanning resumes for keywords so no human has to do it and offshore sourcing centers, who work for several companies at the same time, are contacting people on LinkedIn and Monster. Maybe a machine could do this with a similar accuracy. We have reached a point where the dangerous battle towards the bottom comes to an end.



So what’s left? 

The organizations and individual recruiters who will be successful in the future will realize that recruitment is an art. 

Finding the right skill for the right job is not art. Finding a skilled person with values, a vision and leadership abilities for a company that values the same things and has a similar vision is art. 

Organizations who understand this will have a clear head start into a post industrial world in the recruitment industry.



The Future of Recruitment

The systems we use to determine if an employer and an employee match are out of date. Employers use rigid systems to evaluate potential employees. Employees use static sheets of paper called Resumes to promote themselves in a more dynamic world than ever before. This has to change and eventually will. I hope both employers and employees realize this shift soon enough, otherwise they will be left behind.