The Evolution of Online Recruitment

Over the past 60 years, the dawning of the Information Age has vastly changed our society. When researchers were developing ARPAnet, the computer system that would eventually become the Internet, no one at the time could have ever predicted that they were on the cusp of the most prominent technologic revolution the world will ever see for decades to come. Fast forward some years later, and we’re all taking advantage of the Internet boom. The evolution of the recruitment industry, in particular, has come a long way thanks to the power of the Internet. Here’s a look back at the advancements in online recruitment over the past 30 years.


Before the 1990s, recruitment tactics looked less like your LinkedIn profile and more like a recruitment agent’s Rolodex of index cards. Your local newspaper’s Classifieds section would have been your first point of reference in your job search. Second, only to word of mouth, the Classifieds section was an integral part of every candidate’s search for employment. If that didn’t work out, then you would walk in or call a recruitment agency and have a face-to-face conversation with an agent discussing your work history and expertise. A single agent had direct access to countless companies looking to fill vital roles in their workforce. The job hunt was a slow process. To put the era into perspective the computer-based fax machine, with the ability to send information to employers within minutes, was the most significant industry advancement of the time. Soon after the 80s, however, things started to see a considerable shift.

The 1990s

Resumes have evolved from handwritten scraps of paper to professionally typed out on Microsoft Word; from being sent via fax within minutes to being sent via email within seconds. And by the mid-1990s recruiters were making use of online classifieds to reach a broader audience. With the power of the Internet at their disposal, agents were able to store and access candidate databases more efficiently. For many, this was considered the beginning of the “‘gold rush’ for agency recruiters.” According to, “proprietary databases gave them an information arbitrage, and they could charge employers a premium.” Agencies were monopolizing online recruitment and charging an enormous amount of money solely for access to candidate information.

Everything began to shift once more by the founding of and By 1999, the first online job boards ushered in the new era of online recruitment. Candidates and employers had never been more connected before. Employers could post newspaper-like job ads directly to these websites and reach more relevant candidates with the click of a button at a much cheaper rate. This model of job advertising marked the beginning of the end for the “gold rush.”

The 2000s

Responding to the ever-expanding list of online job boards, job advertisement aggregators were on the rise by the mid-2000s. Recruiters were using aggregator websites, such as Indeed, to reach a broader, more relevant audience of job candidates. Job aggregators acted as a search engine for available positions. Job aggregators collect information from a long list of other job boards and present it as a summary for employers to use. These websites ran on a “pay-per-click” method that only charged employers for any time a potential candidate clicked on their ad. This model led to an even cheaper source of online recruitment.

Many candidates were enjoying the ease of job hunting on a single site without the need to hop around from website to website for several years. Employers, however, struggled to find quality applicants because early job ad aggregators were unable to prioritize quality candidates. The shortcomings of job aggregators would open the doors for further advancement down the road leading to our current standard of recruitment…more on that later.

The 2010s

For a long time, job boards were dominating the recruitment industry. According to DCR Trendline, “Online recruitment was dominated by three major players – Monster, Career Builder, and Hot Jobs…these three job boards were responsible for approximately 22 percent of all external hires…Social recruiting, at the time, only made up 3 percent of [those] external hires.”

For some of these players, success didn’t last long. Hot Jobs had gone the way of the dinosaur. After being initially acquired by Yahoo, and then again by Monster, Hot Jobs was absorbed into these sites never to be seen again. In fact, all of these websites have now become relics of the past. The industry wanted innovation, and social channels were willing to deliver. With the rise of LinkedIn and Facebook, founded in 2003 and 2009 respectively, social recruitment was becoming more and more popular.

In a recent post on Forbes, “If you’re not currently using social media in your hiring process, you’re in the minority: a 2017…survey found that 70 [percent] of employers now use social media to screen potential hires.” Social networking sites became increasingly popular for recruiters. A new wave of distribution channels, big data, and advanced tracking technology helped produce better, more predictable results.

Today and beyond

We’ve spent a lot of time looking back at past advancements that helped shape online recruitment, but now it’s time to look at the present day. Programmatic recruitment is the current technological advancement improving the industry. Programmatic meaning automation and pushing the limits of what technology is capable of at its current state. It’s using software for reaching a set number of applicants in the places that they are using to job search. Without limiting the capabilities of hiring managers and their teams, programmatic recruitment expands on the human element. Where recruiters once spent time combing through details such as the geographical location and education qualifications of possible candidates, programmatic recruitment advertising does so automatically saving time and money for recruiters across the board.

Experience the power of programmatic with pandoIQ. Learn More.
From word of mouth to programmatic automation, we’ve reviewed the full spectrum of the recruiting industry. The one common thread throughout these past decades has been the thread of innovation. The need for ease has pushed the industry forward to this point, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

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