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Recruitment through the decades

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Since designated jobs began there will always have been some form of recruitment, but this will likely have been in-house or advertised via word of mouth; “I’ve heard Mr Carpenter requires an Apprentice”.

As jobs have increased and the world has grown, and employers have less and less time to dedicate to employment, we have seen the birth of the recruitment agent.

We explore where recruitment agencies as we know them today, all began…


During World War Two (WWII) there were large gaps in employment as a result of soldiers going to war. As such, this saw the birth of the recruitment agency as large numbers of “candidates” emerged who were not called for duty such as women, ailments like Asthma, skilled trades, etc.

Post war, as many men returned coupled with an abundance of upskilled civilians the recruitment agencies continued their busy roles.


The trend of the 1940’s continued into the 50’s with many recruiters tasked with serving the needs of candidates and their skills. As the market grew the CV was born. Likely typewriter sales went up too in order for the CVs to be written!


Almost 100% of job advertisements circulating were placed in prominent national and local newspapers in a bid to catch the attention of the public.


In most countries, agencies became regulated, for instance in the UK under the Employment Agencies Act 1973.


In 1983, Microsoft Word was invented. This led to a standardised style of CV and a much more accessible process. Applicant tracking systems were also invented and electronic candidate databases meant recruitment agencies no longer needed boxes and boxes of files.


1994 saw the beginning of online job boards when Monster was launched. Several others followed suit making it much easier for both employers and candidates alike. According to Jackie Iles: “Between 1990 and 2000, 22% of applications were submitted via email or online, jumping hugely to 90% in 2014”1.


In the early ‘noughties’ head hunting became more prolific and with the launch of LinkedIn in 2003 recruiters were now able to search for candidates through the site. The use of social media is now one of the most popular ways in which to seek out new talent as recruitment agencies can dedicate time to these mediums.

Also, and most importantly Hunter Dunning was founded in 2004!


Specialist recruitment agencies, such as Hunter Dunning are now able to source highly qualified and often passive candidates that didn’t even know they were seeking a new job until we spoke to them. While job boards have a place, recruitment is no longer a numbers game – it is about placing good quality people in good quality roles.

Hunter Dunning Managing Director, Joe Synes said: “Recruitment has come a long way since the wartime era. While many still regard the industry as ‘the more applications the better’ we have identified the sheer waste of time and resources with this strategy. It’s all about quality over quantity and finding the right people for the right role – even if they didn’t know they were looking”.

Why not make the recruitment process even easier and let Hunter Dunning deal with all your recruitment needs? As an exclusive partner or candidate, we can offer professional advice as experts in our field, time and cost saving solutions and a quality service. See more about us here.


1. Iles, J., Volt “How Has the Recruitment Industry Evolved?” http://www.volt.eu.com/the-evolution-of-recruitment.aspx [Accessed] 25th September 2018