A History Of Recruitment - Era 2: The 1980s To 1990

  By Henry Glickel  |    Wednesday September 13, 2023

Category: Recruiting


The 1980s and 1990s were transformative years in the field of recruitment, witnessing significant changes in technology, attitudes, and approaches to connecting job seekers with employment opportunities. During this era, the recruitment landscape underwent a paradigm shift, with job seekers beginning to trust recruiters more and embracing new technological advancements that revolutionized the way they searched for and secured employment.

The advent of fax machines and overnight mail emerged as game-changers in the recruitment process. These technological breakthroughs facilitated quicker and more efficient communication between recruiters and job seekers. The ability to transmit resumes, application materials, and other pertinent information through fax machines or overnight mail significantly expedited the hiring process. Recruiters could now cast a wider net, extending their reach beyond local markets and offering job seekers a broader range of opportunities. As a result, the skills pool expanded, contributing to the overall growth and advancement of various industries.

A noticeable shift in job seekers' perception of recruiters took place during this era. Previously, there had been a prevailing sense of distrust, with many individuals hesitating to disclose personal information to recruiters. However, as the job market became more competitive and sought-after positions increasingly elusive, job seekers recognized the value of working with recruiters. The cloak-and-dagger approach of previous years gave way to a realization that recruiters possessed unique insights and connections to a vast array of employment opportunities. This shift in mindset allowed recruiters to establish stronger relationships with job seekers, fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual benefit.

In-person networking events, such as job fairs, became popular avenues for job seekers to directly engage with recruiters. These events provided a platform for individuals to gain firsthand knowledge about job opportunities and forge personal connections. By attending job fairs and related gatherings, job seekers could actively network with recruiters, allowing them to make a lasting impression and increase their chances of finding suitable employment. The relationships established during these face-to-face encounters often endured over time, enabling recruiters to maintain a valuable pool of qualified candidates. Consequently, recruiters were empowered to reach out directly to candidates with relevant opportunities, bypassing the traditional reliance on job advertisements.

Recruiters of this era relied heavily on printed client lists, index cards, or copied resumes as vital resources to keep track of candidates and effectively match them with suitable job openings. These tangible tools allowed recruiters to maintain up-to-date information on job seekers, ensuring that the right opportunities were presented to the right individuals.

Overall, the period from the 1980s to the 1990s witnessed a profound transformation in recruitment practices. The fusion of emerging technologies and an evolving job market landscape led to increased trust and collaboration between job seekers and recruiters. The utilization of fax machines and overnight mail expedited communication, making scheduling interviews and sharing information more efficient. Job seekers, recognizing the value of recruiters' insights and connections, embraced networking events and established personal relationships with recruiters. As printed client lists and index cards gradually became obsolete, recruiters relied on these resources to connect candidates with suitable job opportunities.

This era marked a turning point in recruitment, enabling job seekers to expand their horizons beyond their immediate surroundings and providing recruiters with the tools and trust necessary to navigate an increasingly competitive job market. The recruitment landscape was forever altered, emphasizing the importance of technology, communication, and the establishment of meaningful connections between job seekers and recruiters.

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