Post Image

How Has Recruitment Changed in the last 20 Years? And How Has Technology Changed the Sector?**

Where Has the Time Gone? In The Blink of an Eye? Or Not?

At the risk of stating the obvious, 20 years ago is, or rather was, in 2002. For those of us old enough to remember it, Tony Blair was Prime Minister, and Eminem was well, everywhere. Plus, the Queen was celebrating her Golden Jubilee. Rather than her Platinum one, that is.

Was this really all 20 years ago? Time tends to fly. Well, it does if you’re old enough to remember it. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a blur belonging to history. Or, if you’re a recent graduate launching yourself into the jobs market, an era that belongs more to your parents.

Change – and Inertia

Regarding the recruitment sector and the jobs market, everything has changed.

And yet, at the same time things have very much stayed the same.

This is a contradiction in terms. Therefore, it gives us the perfect excuse to use the word oxymoron. But, the two concepts aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

Let us explain.

Whilst the industry movers and shakers have certainly made big developments in certain areas, the fundamentals have stagnated. They’re static, in fact. For this essential area of business to thrive and grow, change is essential. Yet, the sector has faltered.

Which is why we’ve developed Not a CV.

Without blowing our trumpet too much – this isn’t quite the platform, after all – our App is an authentically disruptive force in the recruitment industry. Modesty aside, the technology is deceptively simple, and incredibly effective.

At last, there’s something different to shake things up and deliver benefits all-round.

We’ll touch on this later if we may.

Let’s Take a Look Back

But, in the meantime, given that we’re ahead of the curve here at Not a CV, we’d like to slide behind it. That is, to take a look at the way things used to be done, from 20 years ago and up until now; the accepted routines that everyone has followed. And, how technology has (or hasn’t) changed the sector during that time.

Are recruiters and employees doing what they’ve always done – still?

All things considered, how can we genuinely save time, money and resources without compromising on an ultra-careful, people-first approach?

We’ve put together this piece as an in-depth retrospective into how changes in attitudes and technological developments have shifted the recruitment sector.

Equally, how despite our Brave New World, the sector is still grappling with a number of same-old, same-old challenges.

Firstly, let’s explore a few basics.

Why is Recruitment Important?

If you recruit staff, either directly or via a consultant, your cost-per-hire is:

  • Expensive, and
  • Risky

It’s easy to get wrong. Also, the early recruitment process can suck up hours of your busy working day.

Recruiting, training, salaries, your time investment – you must get the right key players; fabulous employees will make you money. The wrong people, well – not so much.

For fully engaged and motivated employees, and for growth, recruiting great employees and keeping them with you is key. Does everything start from the beginning? Well, yes. It does.

And we should mention:

The Pandemic

Whilst not a longer-term historical event, there’s so much to write about how Covid-19 has revolutionised the job market – to the extent that it deserves a detailed piece of its own.

Suffice to say for the time being that the world has turned upside down.

Whilst we slowly move out of and away from the restrictions that have governed our lives for so long, it’s worth bearing in mind the following sobering thought:

There is a whole swathe of people who have gone through an entire recruitment process, and who now connect with their bosses and colleagues completely online. An interview from home, and now working from home.

But let’s come back to this important topic in a later piece.

In the meantime, here’s a fascinating fact or two:

A (Brief) History

It’s hard to believe that the first recruitment agency began in the UK in 1902. Further to the Labour Bureaux Act of that same year, it authorised the founding of labour bureaux by borough councils throughout London.

The world we live in looks and feels different now. In fact, with modern thinking, to be fair, it’s extremely hard to imagine how it all worked. Not least, because ubiquitous CV (otherwise known as the Curriculum Vitae) didn’t come to the fore until the 1950s and 60s.

If we speed up to date, the last twenty years have borne witness to transformation. Let’s examine the main game-changers, talk about technological developments, and examine what we feel is still an industry that’s stalled.

A Transient Workforce

In recent years, the “job for life” concept has all but dissolved.

Yet, almost nobody noticed it happening.

No longer does a school, college or university leaver join a business and stay there until he or she retires. It’s simply unheard of. The long service award – that pride-of-place clock on your grandparents’ mantelpiece? Well, those precious time pieces are few and far between.

In fact, to take this point further, for the ambitious career-driven individual, job longevity is almost frowned upon. Stay in the same role for ten years, and your motivation could be under scrutiny from a recruitment agent or future employer.

A Global Jobs Market

For those hard-to-fill roles, employers have realised that the best candidate may not even live in the same time zone, let alone the local area. or even within a reasonably commutable distance.

Now, technology in the English-speaking world (at least, if we’re referring to the UK) has opened up the world to considerable international talent. Top talent, no less. Zoom and Teams keep us all in touch.

Even within the UK, the traditional recruitment agency, with its reliance on local everything (shopfronts, candidate footfall, newspapers etc) has fallen by the wayside.

The Internet

Welcome to the digital jobs market.

Obviously, no examination of the recruitment sector would be complete without reference to the internet – and before that even, the development in the 1980s of systems and databases to obliterate those hand-written cards stored in alphabetical order in one’s rolodex.

The introduction of the world wide web into the industry has, without a doubt resulted in technological advances in the sector like no other.

The creation in the mid-1990s of large, mainstream internet jobs boards, soon to become near-household names, massively accelerated and widened access to jobs, recruiters and those seeking them.

Then and now, you could search for a particular role in a certain sector, at a specific salary – and email your CV. Click, click, click- and done. Equally, ambitious recruitment consultants would be on your case seconds after you’d loaded up your jobs history.

Did you know that between 1990 and 2000, 22% of job applications were submitted through jobsites or by email? Now, although it may not be the best or most effective means to recruit, or to find your best job role, almost all new positions are applied for online.

Heady stuff.

Importantly, with so many candidates using their mobiles and tablets for job seeking, websites must be responsive. And, easy to use. When it comes to the internet, most of us have 6-second attention spans.

Does more literally mean more here, however? A greater number of available CVs and candidates could simply mean more work for the hard-working recruitment sector. And lead to a dilution in quality.

Social Media

Again, impossible to ignore, and of course, part of our digital transformation over the last 20 years.

In theory, social media enables job seeks to make informed judgements about company cultures, their mission statements – even management styles before they commit to anything. Therefore, businesses who fail to engage with social media, or who may be poor performers, could be missing fresh new talent.

LinkedIn, the “world’s largest professional network”, is of course the highest profile platform in the world of job seeking.

Although now rivalling Facebook in its preference for cute pets and personal stories (no, we’re not sure why either), it’s a powerhouse in the world of b2b recruitment. This, despite numerous other online graduate acquisition websites.

In our view, however, LinkedIn has its challenges. Why? Because not unlike the human brain, not everyone knows how to use it for its full potential. In other words, using it effectively is a bit tricky.

Facebook also plays its part, advertising jobs to young people – a market now open to a new market, previously closed.

Application Tracking Software

In a nutshell, this new technology delivers powerful streamlining technology to save time and effort and reduce errors. Also, through helping the sector to speed up well-established recruitment processes, to deliver 5-star efficiencies.

Application Tracking Software (ATS) enables a business to:

  • Collect information about an individual
  • Organise groups of people by experience and skills
  • Filter out unsuitable applications

ATS can also monitor communications, establish where an individual is within the recruitment journey, and can even manage several applications for any number of job roles at the same time.

It should be a silver bullet, and in several circumstances has proven so. Picking out the “hot spots” on a CV to grab keywords or phrases, and thus creating a “match” sounds like nirvana.


It can, and does go wrong and is open to abuse.

The drawbacks? ATS systems can’t read white or plain text. Therefore, certain nefarious individuals may add in the necessary golden words deliberately – even changing the text so that the system fails to notice.

Computer says no.

So, turning our attention elsewhere, what else has changed?

The Candidates Themselves

In our experience, graduates’ qualities are often under-estimated.

Far from emerging from universities with an inadequate skills set, the opposite is true. They offer high levels of competencies and expertise. Often higher, in fact, than their employers’. Controversial, we know.

For example, a young person with a creative degree in the field of technology, say graphic design or web development, is quite literally his or her own asset. They’re a whole heap of future added value, all tied up in one employ-me-now package.

What’s more, direct experience appears no longer to be the be-all and end-all it once was. Candidates with the right “personality”, and who show evidence of future transferable skills, and a willingness to learn are now key considerations for today’s employers.

Potential is everything.

Can you adapt to the role? Does your face fit? How much of a difference can you as a PERSON make to my business? These subtle yet acknowledged nuances are key.

The Power Dynamic

Is it still an employer’s world? No, we don’t think it is. At least – not so much.

Everything is upfront: salary, benefits, job role, expectations, in fact the whole shooting match.

Companies now need to focus on attracting la crème de la crème by competing the way candidates used to. Today’s young job seekers know what they want, and aren’t shy of asking for it.

But…Here’s The Thing

Apart from industry-specific, niche agencies, the recruitment sector is still more or less where it was 20 years ago.

Naturally, we’re factoring in the key changes we’ve discussed, but the fundamentals are still there. There’s still:

  • A job advert to write and post
  • Decisions to make about which platforms and job boards to post on
  • A CV and a covering letter to create and submit
  • A mountain of work involved to review, filter and assess the CVs received

If you’re a candidate, you’ll need to be as pro-active as possible, which can often result in a scatter gun approach.

If you’re a recruitment agent or an employer, the process is time-consuming (hiring for hard-to-fill roles can take several months), complicated, hard to manage and riven with possible slip-ups, such as unconscious bias. Also, it’s expensive. Very expensive. In fact, recruitment costs can be astronomical.

The experience overall can be dispiriting, drawn out, and stressful.

The Application Revolution is Here, and it’s Shaking Things Up

Which is why we’re so pleased to offer authentic innovation in the recruitment sector. Not a CV is re-shaping the entire procedure for both parties, making the absolute best of technology to put the right candidates in front of THE perfect employer.

Maximising everyday, already understood, well-known Application mobile phone technology, we’re re-inventing the wheel, whilst keeping it exactly as it is. Why not use contemporary “swipe right” functionality, underpinned by powerful algorithms to match a job seeker to his or her future employer? Why not indeed – which is exactly what we’ve done.

Not a CV aims to save recruiters time, money and effort, adding value by updating and streamlining the early stages of the recruitment process in ways previously thought impossible.

We’re making life easier for applicants, too: quicker, easier, more efficient.

Matchmaking, in other words.

Click here to read more about how it works.

In Summary

There’s an expression in French: plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose; the more things change, the more they stay the same.

And, until now, we’ve all been doing the same thing and expecting a different result. The definition of madness? Perhaps a way out of all this insanity just became clearer.

Looking for work?

Download the Not a CV app and find your dream job!


Looking for an employee?

Create an account and post your opportunity today!