The history of recruitment and events that changed the way we do business

Get in touch with WilsonBrown, executive search and recruitment consultants.
Get in touch with WilsonBrown, executive search and recruitment consultants.

With our new revamped website now containing a Blog page I thought it was important to kick this off by reflecting on the past.

“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” – James Baldwin

The history of recruitment is a long and varied tale as recruitment in various shapes and forms dates back over 4000 years. The following is a brief history of the industry and additional events that shaped it.

  • 2700 BC – Ancient Egypt – There was a system for recruiting a military force from the civil population to supplement the regular army. Formal recruitment had become a necessity because the usual tribes who provided soldiers became unreliable, in terms of both quantity and quality of potential solders.
  • 55 BC – Rome – Julius Caesar gave birth to the employee referrals by offering 300 Sestertius to any soldier recruiting another into the Roman army.
  • 320 A.D,- Greece – The Greeks had huge needs for recruitment for their armies as the smaller states were frequently at war. Recruiters with large sums of money were sent out to hire mercenaries from surrounding states.
  • 1000’s – China – The Sung dynasty in China introduced a system of formal employment examinations for entry to the civil service. The system was expanded to fill most positions and to recruit commoners.
  • 1350 – England – First employment laws were introduced.
  • 1750’s – Newspapers started to become the dominant communication tool around the world and soon began publishing job ads, along with other types of classifieds. Prior to this people advertised jobs through bulletin boards and flyers in public places such as theatre’s, town halls, etc,
  • 1800’s – With the rapid need for more manpower due to the industrial revolution there was a shortage of people. Many small to mid-sized recruitment agencies were born from this era as they began to see recruitment and labour hire as the future.
  • 1940’s – During the start of WWII many employees’ positions were vacated when they left to join the military. Recruitment agencies were relied upon to assist employers with their skills and manpower shortages.
  • 1945 – Upon the return home the war veterans quickly needed to find employment. The recruitment industry expanded to assist the returning veterans to find new jobs
  • 1950’s, people were beginning to create resumes that depicted their personal profiles and skills. Resume’s became standard practice with candidates listing their qualifications and experience.
  • 1970’s – The world had a period of relative prosperity and growth and large corporations began shift towards outsourcing their hiring efforts to recruiting companies. This was because storage of all information was becoming a challenge, due to the mass archives of Resume’s written on paper. More than 75% of candidates were sourced via newspapers advertising.
  • 1980’s – Resumes were usually Faxed. The first Personal Computers were released onto the market. Also that the end of this decade Mobile phones were released into the market. The first applicant tracking system for and electronic candidate database for recruiters is introduced.
  • 1990’s – Introduction of the World-Wide-Web, which meant recruiters started to pull advertising away from conventional means such as newspapers, and explore a global world of job advertising. Online recruitment was basically the exact same announcements than in the newspapers, except that they were also accessible on the web.
  • 2000’s the recruitment methods changed very fast as the adoption of the internet and e-mail became common practice in society.
    • 2002 – 6% of job seekers used the Internet in their job hunt
    • 2003 – 46% of job seekers used the Internet in their job hunt and LinkedIn launches.
    • 2006 – 70% of job seekers used the Internet in their job hunt
  • 2010’s – (so far) 90% of job applications submitted via e-mail or on line. Recruiters are frequently using Skype and phone interviews as opposed to in person interviews. In 2016 the average Australian stays with their employer just 3 years and 4 months, compared to 1960 when employees averaged 15 years per employer. This means that an average school leaver will have 15 employers in their working career if this trend stays the same.

With this industry moving with the times and the changes in technology there are still many changes and challenges ahead – and I am personally looking forward to see what comes next.