History of Job Recruitment

From job boards and recruiters to sourcing tools and specialists, the recruitment industry has seen tremendous change over the past 60 years.

Published on July 20, 2018

When you hear the term “job recruitment,” what comes to mind? You might think of the long, antiquated process of typing up a resume that needs to be reviewed by a recruiter before being sourced out to a company. You might instead think of job board sites or finding opportunities on your own. The job recruitment industry has experienced major shifts since creation 60+ years ago. Let’s dive into the history of recruitment and the future of the industry.


Employment Agencies


The year was 1940 and WWII was well underway. Men were whisked away to foreign lands while women manned the forts back home. During this time, men were the providers for their families. With many jobs left unattended, there was an immediate need for workers and women stepped up as the providers. Employment agencies were born. These firms, like Kelly Services, Manpower, and Robert Half, were built on the premise of helping companies fill the open positions.



Flashforward to the 1950s: WWII ended and veterans returned back to their homeland, leading to a booming job market and recruitment industry. Employment agencies continued to help women find work but also accommodated the vets who had newfound skills from overseas. Resumes were created to highlight skills and previous experiences.

Big Business


During the 1970s, recruiters shifted their focus from the individual to the client. Companies were becoming global corporations and labor became cheaper as they began outsourcing. Recruiters had an extensive amount of work on their hands – filing paperwork into cabinets and using word-of-mouth and face-to-face marketing with their clients. Agencies like Lucas Group, Kaye Personnel Incorporated,and Korn Ferry were founded to meet the demands of their clients.

Job Posting


The 1990s emerged along with the internet. The internet became crucial in restructuring the recruitment landscape. Recruiters could store information via databases rather than filing cabinets, search job classifieds, and create online advertising for their firm. Posting jobs and filling positions became easier as big players entered the field, like CareerBuilder, Monster, and Snagajob.

Freelancing and Contracting

Today, there are an estimated 20,000 staffing agencies across the United States with 55% of companies utilizing contract and temp staffing services. Yet, agency recruiters are becoming a thing of the past with specialist and independent recruiters taking over the industry. 37% of the American workforce has a side hustle and 10.1% of workers are independent contractors. Individuals want the freedom to choose who they work for, how long they work, and where they work from.


The days of filling out resumes, posting to job boards, or seeking help through recruiters are becoming antiquated with the emergence of gig work and IoT technologies. Companies like RoboRecruiter and Entelo are using IoT to disrupt the job recruitment industry. At tilr, we are advocating for the future of work through our innovative platform. Learn more about it here.