How Recruiting Has Changed in the Past 20 Years

LinkedIn reached out to some of us that have been at the recruiting game for a long time to comment on what's changed over the past 20 years. Check out the insights below - some colleagues of mine share some truth, and I shared how the role of the hiring manager has evolved.

And big Happy 20th Anniversary to LinkedIn :)

This blog post first appeared on LinkedIn Talent blog.

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How Recruiting Has Changed in the Past 20 Years, According to 5 Talent Leaders

LinkedIn recently turned 20 and that got us thinking about how the world’s changed in the past two decades. Back in 2003, 50 Cent topped the Billboard charts; Beyoncé launched her first solo album; an 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo made his debut for Manchester United; and the film adaptation of the musical Chicago won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Fast forward to today and Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Morgan Wallen are topping the charts. Ronaldo, still going strong and rumored to be heading back to Europe after a short stint playing in the Middle East, has entered the conversation as one of the greatest to ever play the “beautiful game.” Beyoncé, now also known as Queen Bey, has seven albums under her belt. And this year’s Best Picture went to Everything Everywhere All at Once starring Ke Huy Quan, an actor who was previously best known for his kid-sidekick role in the nearly 40-year-old Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Time hasn’t spared the recruiting industry either. In 2003, a recruiter may still have had a Rolodex jammed with contacts, help wanted ads still existed at the back of print newspapers, and, riding a wave that began in the late 1990s, online job sites were increasingly popular with candidates and hiring managers alike. 

Today, the talent world is abuzz with the possibilities of GAI, a hiring slowdown has put a renewed emphasis on internal recruiting, and talent acquisition may have found a more permanent seat at that often elusive table with company leaders.

It’s in this spirit of reflection that we posed the following question to five talent acquisition leaders: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in recruiting in the past 20 years?

Below you’ll find their answers, touching on everything from candidate attire and a team sport mentality to a glass-clinking ode to the constantly evolving world of recruiting.

Tim Sackett: An opportunity to move past a faulty recruiting strategy

“We have an opportunity to get beyond Post and Pray,” says Tim, an HR and talent influencer and president of HRU Technical Resources. “It’s the main recruiting strategy we had 20 years ago and, unfortunately, it’s still the main recruiting strategy we have today: We post jobs and pray for someone to apply. We aren’t going out and finding the best talent for our jobs. We are presenting ‘interested’ talent as the ‘best’ talent to our hiring managers.

“We have amazing technology and communities (including LinkedIn) that have developed over the past two decades and we still are selling those who apply to our jobs as the top talent in our market. This is a lie. It’s a lie we continue to sell our executives in every company. But we’re at a point now where we have the technology and know-how to be better in today’s dynamic talent marketplace.”

Jennifer McClure: A focus on skills, not pedigree

“Over the last 20 years,” says Jennifer, CEO of Unbridled Talent and chief excitement officer of DisruptHR, “I think we’ve gotten better as recruiters at identifying candidates who actually have the skills to do a job, or the aptitude and ability to learn the necessary skills. In the past, I think we tended to focus more on a candidate’s current job title or their prior experience doing the same or similar job to determine whether or not they were ‘qualified.’ 

“Now that jobs — and the skills needed to be successful in them — are changing and evolving so fast, it’s great to see recruiters adding value by focusing on hiring candidates who add to a business’s culture, who can grow into a position, and who can build a successful career with a company.”

Glen Cathey: The interview dress code will never be the same — and cats are always lurking

“Remember when job seekers had to actually put on pants or a dress and leave the house to attend job fairs or interviews?” asks Glen, a global talent acquisition leader and SVP at Randstad. “Well, those days are long gone. Now, thanks to online recruiting, candidates can interview for jobs from the comfort of their own couch in their shorts or pajamas — with a cat on their lap.

“No more concerns about running late because of traffic, struggling to find a parking spot, or worrying about your handshake. Just fire up your phone or laptop, put on a nice shirt or top (no one will see below your waist, after all), and answer interview questions.  

“Of course, there are new risks associated with online recruiting, like accidentally turning on the cat filter on Zoom or someone walking into frame during your video interview. But, hey, at least you don’t have to worry about getting lost on the way to the interview!”

John Vlastelica: Recruiting is no longer a siloed activity

“In the past 20 years,” says John, founder and CEO of Recruiting Toolbox, “the roles of the hiring manager and recruiter have evolved a lot. Traditionally, the hiring manager was largely not expected to do much in the process — if they had a corporate recruiter supporting them, then their primary role was that of interviewer and approver.

“But today we expect recruiters to operate as talent advisors and, more importantly, we expect hiring managers to operate as talent champions. We expect hiring managers to get involved in pre-funnel planning; sourcing outreach and candidate engagement (even when they don’t have roles open); being a real leader for interviewing teams, hiring decisions, diversity, and compensation; closing; and more.

“And I’m so happy that’s changed and that companies see the value in a culture of recruiting, where hiring is a team sport.”

Jackye Clayton: Candidates aren’t seen as mere numbers — and recruiters’ desks may be a lot less cluttered

“The biggest change I’ve seen,” says Jackye, vice president of talent acquisition and DEIB at Textio, “is that recruiters now learn more about recruiting technology than the art of recruiting. Remember the days when recruitment meant sifting through piles of resumes and cover letters, hoping to find a diamond in the rough? Remember when we used to ‘smile and dial’? Now, we send text messages and use fancy algorithms, while automated systems and social media campaigns do the ‘heavy lifting.’ 

“But it also means recruiters can reach out to a lot more candidates. Could you imagine telling your 2003 self that half of the bulk of your job would be taken over by a bot? (And don’t worry — we’re still needed for the human touch.) 

“While technology has revolutionized the recruiting game, we have also seen a shift in the hiring process towards a more candidate-focused approach. Gone are the days of treating job applicants like mere numbers and of candidate control and influence. Now companies are putting in the effort to create a positive candidate experience, from the first contact to the final job offer. 

“So, to all the recruiters and senior leaders out there, let’s raise a glass to the ever-evolving world of recruiting. Cheers to the past 20 years, and here’s to the next 20 — we’re in for another bumpy ride!”

Thank you to everyone who responded to our question! To get the latest news and insights from these recruiting leaders, be sure to follow Tim Sackett, Jennifer McClure, Glen Cathey, John Vlastelica, and Jackye Clayton on LinkedIn.