6 Ridiculous Things We Did Before Recruitment Tech

Next year, Firefish Software moves into its twelfth year of business, and what a fantastic ride it’s been. As we prepare to say goodbye to the roller coaster year that was 2021, it’s got me thinking about the journey it’s taken to get here.

I started out in recruitment in 1998. Back then there was no such thing as innovative recruitment tech! Instead, we had to go to extreme lengths to pitch for roles and source candidates.

Join me as I look back (and laugh) at the ridiculous things we had to do before recruitment tech came into play…

1. Using newspapers as job boards

Recruiter reading newspaperI can still remember the buzz I felt every Thursday morning when I went to pick up the newspapers for work. My team and I would flick straight to the jobs section to see who was recruiting roles and if our agency’s ads still had the market’s share.

Newspapers were job boards back then and being a 360 recruiter meant you’d pitch for a job, coordinate a newspaper advert, and wait to hear from applicants by phone or post. Every ‘campaign’ had a start and end date, so to get the job filled we’d sift through the paper CVs we'd received one at a time.

The best thing about the golden era of newspaper job ads was that unlike in today’s market, there was zero duplication and once you won the job, the fee was yours to collect on placement. So in effect, every job was exclusive and unique for you to work on – imagine that!

2. Using filing cabinets as a CRM

The need for good recruitment technology is exactly why I started this company, so it’s hard for me to imagine a time when Firefish Software wasn’t helping recruiters change the way their recruit.

When I started recruiting, it was really hard to segment different groups of candidates. Sorting things manually was the easiest way to go about it. We used a manual filing system, and a trusty filing cabinet.

Like a stone age CRM, filing cabinets were a haven for storing candidate and client data. Unlike today, if you filed something wrong, you couldn’t hit ‘undo’ or ‘restore’, instead you’d end up looking for a candidate's CV, sometimes for days.

3. Relying on couriers to deliver a candidate shortlist

Whenever my CV deadlines were looming, I’d need to get my candidate shortlist to my client in a matter of hours. Instead of relying on the post, I relied on couriers (often on bikes) to get them across town.

Now you might be thinking'what about fax machines'? But back then, fax machines were nothing like they are these days. The way candidates presented their CVs was very important and anything you faxed would come out looking like a piece of toilet paper with ink spilt all over it. All I can say is, thank tech for email!

4. Working mostly from the yellow pages

During my time as a recruiter, I always joked that “all I need is a yellow page and a phone!” to get my work done. Back then, the UK’s biggest telephone directory was basically what the internet is today. We’d pluck out random companies and make our calls. To be successful, you needed to be bold, resourceful and relentless – skills top-billing recruiters still need to this day! 

These days, finding names and numbers only takes a few clicks, but back then, hunting down leads and connecting with people took a lot more time and effort. It took so much work, that if you were lucky enough to get a prospect on the hook, you’d get a huge pat on the back from all your peers. 

5. Shredding old paperwork

recruitment-paperwork-minOrganising your filing cabinet was one thing, but choosing which paperwork to shred was a whole other kettle of fish. I remember running out of space in my filing cabinet and deciding which candidate CVs to hold on to, and which I needed to scrap. There were no recruitment metrics to tell me who was unengaged, or back on the market. You'd just have to take a shot in the dark!

Thankfully, reviewing and shredding old CVs is a thing of the past. Instead, we can now easily filter out our unengaged candidates and hit bulk archive/delete

6. Dealing with daily candidate walk-ins

When I worked in recruitment, candidates were welcome to walk into the office off the street. It’s fair to say, this kept us on our toes!

No matter what you had planned that day, if a candidate came in, you’d drop everything to tend to their needs. At that heart of it, this is true of any good candidate experience

Greeting candidates as they walked in acted as a constant reminder of the fact that we deal with real people and help change their lives for the better every day. Whether we’re helping someone from behind a computer screen, or face-to-face, it's crucial we always remind ourselves of this. 

Final thoughts….

As I came to the end of writing this blog, I was worried I'd started to think of my time in recruitment as ‘simpler and better times'. Luckily, that isn’t the case! While it’s fun to reminisce about the things we used to do, it’s unrealistic to think we can still recruit this way.

As the CEO of the UK’s largest privately owned recruitment CRM business, I live and breathe recruitment technology and see it as nothing but a positive force. It’s constantly changing the way we recruit for the better

Embracing new technology is the key to staying ahead of the curve. Use it to automate your mundane tasks, and you’ll free up time to focus on the most valuable, respectable and human parts of recruitment.

For tips on how to engage recruiters in new tech, download the eBook below.

back view of 3 men using computers with lightbulbs overhead

Wendy McDougall

Wendy McDougall is Chief Fish of Firefish Software. In her spare time, you'll find her playing squash or feeding her inner geek with the latest technology!

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