Ed Hunter: The Recruitment Timeline

Any Recruiter across the world is probably forecasting a lot. “What have you got on today?” “What’ve you got that will drop this week?” “Deals for the month please?” “Has anything changed since 4 minutes ago?” “I notice you’re not on the phone, have all those deals you pledged come in?”

Taking this stance in a recruitment business ignites a fire in the Consultants that work there. However not in the way management hope.

Firstly, you’ll become great at looking into the future and predicting what complete strangers are going to decide, in a process you can’t control.

Secondly, you’ll initially be good at talking your way out of trouble. Which is a skill that will then morph into under promising and over delivering, so you don’t have to do the first part any more.

But, as an industry, we’re not going to be around for much longer.

Oh, you haven’t heard? Yeah, the industry’s on its way out.

Robots are taking over.

So, using that first skill I honed in my first week (predicting the future) I’ve laid out the ultimate demise of the sector in a handy timeline so everyone knows when to hang up their headsets.

You’re welcome.

You’ll also notice my prior predictions (yes, I originally wrote this on the old LinkedIn back in the 1630’s) have all come true.

1665 – The idea of recruitment is tested out on animals before the full trial on humans. Starting, as always, with rats. The idea’s deemed a huge success as thousands of vermin are expatriated to England to make their fortune. Unfortunately, they bring the plague with them, which kills 75,000 Consultants and puts the trip to Ibiza on hold.

1871 – The first labour exchange (jobcentre) is opened in the UK with commission paid in either Groats or Turnips.

1902 – The first recruitment agency (as we know them) is started by John Gabbitas who recruits Schoolmasters for public schools in England. At least five years’ experience in MS Office suite is a must, along with a penchant for medieval torture methods and modernised slavery.

1914 – Recruitment is born to the mainstream with front-line soldiers offered ‘great OTE, opium and rum rations’ as company benefits. The mere suggestion of accepting a ‘counter offer’ means death or prison time. Heady days.

1933 – A UK Workers’ Union formally calls for the abolition of recruitment, after noticing contract roles in Germany and Poland were mis-sold as ‘fantastic opportunities’. Parliament introduces fee structures to abate their discontent and issues a statement which cites “Recruiter bashing does nothing to help the industry and we’re not all bad.”

1939 – After a coincidental fall in the number properties for Estate Agents to sell, the UK government backs recruitment as the sector of choice. Pumping millions into new job ads and foreign incentives, including skydiving and ‘booze cruises’ to mainland Europe. Germany, worried by the diminishing numbers of available sun loungers, push back a bit.

1976 – The recruitment industry is in full force. A large rolodex means a large Rolex. Fax is the tool of the fat cats. The only things wider than the Consultants are the ties. The Queen sends the first email, presumably containing a funny meme or promising 7 years’ bad sex if it’s not forwarded.

2017 – Recruitment’s bigger than ever. People still use a phone plugged into a wall, only there’s much more freedom with the creation of ‘the headset’. You’re still attached by a cable, but you can use your left hand a bit more.

2019 – Robots take over menial low level Engineering tasks. So, robots are also brought into Recruitment Agencies to answer phone calls, due in part to their higher capability for rapport building.

2021 – Self driving cars and drones are so advanced, no candidate excuse about interview no-shows are deemed acceptable. Worldwide deal forecasts suffer as a result with many candidates simply being honest about their intention not to attend.

2026 – Robots infiltrate middle management in recruitment agencies. They learn the phrases “make sure you hit your KPIs” and “what have you got on this week?” within 40 seconds. All commission is paid on a discretionary basis, but because they use AI ,the system’s deemed ‘too fair’.

2026 – Senior Management’s attempt to usurp the Middle Management Robots is deemed a failure and they have to ‘go back to basics’.

2027 – All the Robots’ other pre-programmed skills including emotion and intelligence, are rendered useless and they self-combust due to heightened boredom.

2054 – Top billers around the world automate every part of their job and start working 20 minute working weeks.

2061 – The largest recruitment agencies in the world have grown so much they now have a career progression programme with 55 steps. Graduate Consultants are able to reach ‘Associate Assistant Deputy Vice President’ in their first year.

2075 – The first recruitment company incentive to Mars takes off for an ‘out of this world’ Director’s lunch incentive for three lucky employees while their colleagues eat boring sandwiches at their desk.

2076 – Mars bans recruitment agencies from visiting on company incentives.

2081 – The contingent market is so saturated there are televised gladiatorial battles to the death for Tier 3 PSL status, presented by Ant and Dec’s descendants.

2091 – The UK government finally approves agency plans to have office chairs that fall into lava pits for anyone not hitting 3 hours on the phone.

2101 – Someone suggests on social media that recruitment’s going to die in the next 2 years.

2131 – James Caan is announced as ‘Head of the Recruitment Industry’. Only, all that remains of him is his head, in a Futurama style, glass, ‘head cabinet’. He’s consulted over important decisions like whether robots should be allowed ‘dress down’ on Fridays. Which he says is “a nice idea, but isn’t worth investing in.”

2135 – The industry’s transformed when the last cable headset becomes wireless, instantly cutting the golf handicap of Consultants everywhere as they’re finally able to practice office golf swings more freely.

2249 – The rising tide from melting ice caps pushes Recruiters out of the periphery of island nations and into the major business hubs. Stark overcrowding of wine bars forces widespread one-in-one-out policies on ‘All-Bar-Ones’ across the continent.

2311 – Paper CVs become obsolete with the ceremonious destruction of the World’s last tree. The wood from which is used to make smaller replica trees, on show in worldwide museums.

2389 – All remaining business cards run out, increasing the amount of chewing gum on chairs and floors at industry conferences.

2450 – Aliens land on earth but have to deal with so many cold calls about jobs irrelevant to their experience they hire a Robot Gatekeeper and return to their own planet leaving no forwarding address.

2500 – The recruitment industry doesn’t die, but evolves to serve the half human/half robot network. Mitch Sullivan, who’s been cryogenically frozen, is thawed out, in accordance with his will to write a LinkedIn update that reads: “Told you so”.


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