At the risk of sounding like your Mum (or Granny), times have changed.

The global talent landscape - and specific job markets - are not the same as they once were. How organisations attract and engage (aka recruit) the best people is not the same process it once was.

This is not just about technology. It’s about market dynamics. Choice. Expectations. 

It’s about what people want out of their lives (and by extension, their jobs and employers).

This change is also about the prevalence and power of social media - and new norms in the job seeker-employer relationship.

This isn’t the first time the job seeker-employer relationship has changed.

The history of recruitment goes back to the first human civilisations. Ancient empires ‘recruited’ subjects to serve in the army and work on large-scale building projects (like the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China).

At this point in history, the groups or organisations doing the recruiting held the power.

Over the years, the common person began to demand the right to choose their own profession (and sell their own goods). This was the first of many shifts which has lead to the talent landscape we have today.

Modern recruitment as we know began to take shape around the time of World War II. When the war ended, millions of veterans with new skills came home and were looking for work - giving rise to the beginning of headhunting (as we have come to know it). Companies were established to connect potential employees with businesses.

Originally, recruiters worked for the job seeker - not the hiring organisation.


In the 1970s, economic growth saw companies outsource their hiring efforts - to reduce costs.

In the 1980s, the classifieds section of the newspaper was the main place to advertise - and find - job opportunities.

The rise of the internet saw job boards take over newspaper classifieds as the ‘go to’ place for hiring organisations and job seekers alike.

While those job boards are still alive and well today - they’re only one channel. Just one of many places for job seekers and hiring organisations to ‘meet’.

The talent landscape today is characterised by rich choice, individual expectation and a real need for mutual respect.

This year is my 20th in the professional workforce. I distinctly remember the feeling when I was offered by first professional job. And my second. Never in a million years would I have considered turning down a job offer.

My second job was in the public service. My Dad was delighted. “You’ll have a job for life”. Ha!

Times have changed.

The talent landscape today isn’t about power or obligation or a ‘job for life’.

The hiring organisation is not in the drivers’ seat. The idea that if a person applies for a job and/or attends an interview, they will accept your offer - is archaic.

The recruitment process is a two-way street.

People aren’t just looking for fancy job titles and big salaries and a job for life. It’s far more complex than that.

We have a highly-skilled workforce. Low unemployment. More prevalent use of social media. Greater reach of personal networks. New norms in the employee-employer relationship. A high percentage of passive candidates.

The talent landscape has changed.

If we want to attract and engage the best people to our teams, the way we manage the recruitment process will have to change too.

The historical information included in this article was adapted from Recruiterbox.