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Then and Now: How our industry has evolved

December 10, 2018

While long-serving recruiters may look back misty eyed at the days of the fax
machine and carbon paper, newer arrivals may wonder how on earth work
was done without computers and mobiles. But the truth is, the changes in
the industry have been less about technology and more about the culture of


There was a time, back in the day, when recruitment consultants regularly enjoyed long, languid, alcohol-fuelled lunches with clients that were often known to become dinner and then maybe a little karaoke.

There was also a time, back in the day, when clients did not feel a need to be inhibited in their language when talking with recruitment consultants. Back in this (g)olden time, circa the late 1980s, the height of technology for many offices was the revolutionary facsimile machine. Mobile phones did not exist, nor did the internet in any meaningful way, and
electric typewriters were the workhorses of the office.


Yet, despite all this, one industry veteran believes the role itself and the type of person drawn to a career in recruitment remains, to all intents and purposes, fundamentally unchanged.

“There have been a lot of changes in the industry but if you scrape away all the technology, the role is still essentially the same,” says Steve Shepherd, the CEO of TwoPointZero career coaching. “I think younger consultants would be surprised at how much you could do and how successful you can be without being constantly attached to a telephone.

“And the skills needed to be a good recruiter, the core foundations – that ability to business develop, build relationships with clients and the investigative skills in terms of candidate selection and interviewing – haven’t really changed at all. What has changed is the way we work.”


Shepherd, who now operates a career coaching business focused on helping youth make the transition from education to the workforce to begin their chosen career, began in recruitment in 1988 not long after landing in Australia from the UK where he’d worked in real estate.