Over 2,000 years ago, Julius Caesar was amassing his Roman army. To bolster his ranks, he decreed that any soldier who could recruit another to their cause, would be receive a bonus equivalent to 30% of their annual pay. This large sum encouraged many soldiers to seek out others to join their ranks. Thus employee referrals were born. Since then, recruiting has come a long way. However, the journey from then to now is incredibly interesting. We’ll follow the recruiting business from it’s humble beginnings to present day.

Recruiting During World War II

In the United States, the birth of the modern recruiting industry can be traced as far back as World War II. In a time when the majority of male workers were being drafted away to war, many jobs were left vacant. Sensing the need for a solution, companies were formed to seek out workers that weren’t obligated to the wartime effort. Some entrepreneurs realized this could be a business opportunity.

The industry stagnated after the beginning of the war, but picked up upon it’s conclusion. The end of the war saw many soldiers coming home. They found their jobs were no longer there, and these companies again stepped up again, this time to find candidates work. Having gained technical skills in the war, ‘recruiters’ were able easily find positions for these veterans.

A Shift in Focus

This trend of working for the job seeker continued, until the 1970s. During this time, the industries were booming and companies were doing incredibly well. This meant more money to spend, and less time to invest. These successful companies outsourced their hiring to those same recruiters. This shifted the focus from candidate back to client, as had been during the war. When IRS taxes started to impact the fees for placing workers, organizations began to focus on executive and permanent employees only.

Obviously however, this trend wouldn’t last as there are many temporary staffing agencies today. This shift occurred when legislation allowed certain occupations to be classified differently which increased the motivation to place temp employees.

The State of Recruiting

In the late 1990s, online job boards entered the scene, shifting the focus from newspapers to webpages. The era of online had finally changed recruiting, forever. As time went on more aspects of recruiting would be affected. Applicant tracking systems meant no more rolodex. Nowadays, interviews are not only done face to face but also online through video chat. As more and more job seekers find employment, the pressure is on many companies to fill vacancies. This is the reason many companies utilize recruiters in the modern age. Since there will always be job to fill, recruiters are likely to be around for a while. Technology will continue to shape the industry, but fundamentally it is all about finding the right person, for the right job!