Part 1: The Evolution Of The Recruitment Industry

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Part 1: The Evolution Of The Recruitment Industry

By Jon Krohn | February 8, 2021

Our minds habituate remarkably quickly to new technologies, and so we easily lose perspective on the magic that is enveloping us, lengthening our lifespans, and markedly improving quality of life around the globe. Humanity is in the midst of an ongoing, dramatic revolution enabled by data and automation, and the recruitment industry is playing a leading role. To restore your perspective on the astounding progress that society has made within a few short decades, we survey the history of the recruitment profession in this piece. 

A History of Recruitment

The recruitment profession has existed for millennia. Ancient Egyptians and the classical Greek and Roman cultures employed recruiters to find soldiers for military service. 

The modern recruitment industry was also seeded by conflict, though from the opposite side of the coin. During the Second World War, employment agencies boomed in the West to staff the workplaces left vacant by those conscripted to take up arms. Upon the surrender of Axis forces, servicepeople returned to their home nations. Recruiters were again inundated with opportunity, this time to fill public and private sector roles with veterans. Many of whom – thanks to the technology boom powered by vast public R&D investment during the war – were equipped with novel and valuable skills, e.g., in plastics, computing, aerospace, and energy. 

Recruitment Tools over Time

Ancient civilizations invented numbers and, later, writing systems to track resources, including to conduct censuses and recruit a sensible quota of soldiers from a given territory. In the twentieth century, recruitment efforts during and after the Second World War involved advertisements in newspapers, bulletin boards, and canvassing in high-traffic public spaces like train stations. Applications could be made by mail, Rolodexes stored contact details, and business cards. Simultaneously, typewriters were used to track recruitment and employment records on paper in vast storehouses.

In the latter half of the twentieth century, the wide dissemination of telephones enabled candidate sourcing and interviews to proceed more rapidly than by travel or mail. By the 1990s, mainframe computers permitted employment records to be stored in a more compact digital format relative to paper, and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) emerged for storing candidate information. Meanwhile, household desktop computers and the Internet enabled early adopters to seek candidates and job openings on company websites, online job boards, and via targeted digital advertisements. Recruiters, clients, and candidates began to interact via electronic mail (e-mail) alongside traditional mail, phone calls, and in-person meetings. 

The Artificial Intelligence Revolution

Since the turn of the millennium, digital technologies of the 1990s have spread from early adopters to the majority of working-age inhabitants of developed nations and much of the rest of the planet. This spread sparked the dawn of an artificial intelligence (AI) revolution that today is in its infancy. In Part 2, we’ll examine the impact exponential technologies like AI, machine learning, and deep learning have in the present day. Later, in Part 3, we’ll explore how these technologies will further evolve recruitment services in the coming decades, thereby reshaping all aspects of life, including work and the workplace.

 

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About the Author
Jon Krohn

Dr. Jon Krohn is GQR’s Chief Data Scientist, based out of New York.

As the Chief Data Scientist, he manages scientists and engineers in order to devise intuitive and efficient machine learning algorithms for embedding within products and processes. Dr. Krohn’s particular specialization is data modeling approaches that involve passing the natural language of billions of documents through deep neural networks.

The algorithms he has designed automate aspects of millions of job applications made worldwide each year. He accelerates hiring managers’ capacity to fill their vacancies and the speed with which recruitment consultants can identify roles that candidates are perfectly suited for.

Blue-chip corporates have done global searches across hundreds of vendors that automate recruitment and Krohn’s models placed first. Third-party investigations of his models have found they offer orders of magnitude accuracy improvements relative to their existing approaches. Large HR tech platforms trust these algorithms that lie behind their screens. Krohn has published his results and applied for a patent, with more patents to come.

Dr. Krohn’s first book, Deep Learning Illustrated, was published in 2019 and became an instant #1 bestseller that was translated into six languages. He’s renowned for his lectures at Columbia University, New York University, the NYC Data Science Academy, prestigious industry conferences, and a range of digital channels including his reliably sold-out 600-person classes in the O’Reilly learning platform. He holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Oxford and has published on machine learning in leading academic journals since 2010; his papers have been cited over a thousand times.

 

[Video] Deep Learning + HR With Chief Data Scientist, Dr. Jon Krohn

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