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Technological Evolution in Recruitment

04/04/16 David Philpott Manager, Electronics & Technology

The Technological evolution in Engineering and Technical Recruitment

Throughout Redline Group’s 30 year history, the recruitment industry and Redline’s technically qualified consultants gained first-hand experience with major changes within the technology sector. From its creation 30+ years ago, Redline has continuously evolved alongside the European technology industry, delivering the art and passion of specialist, knowledge-led recruitment to the multi-£Billion technical, engineering and manufacturing sectors.
Redline Group witnessed the recruitment industry boom in the 1990’s alongside huge technological advances, namely in computers and the internet. Previously, Redline’s Consultants relied on UK based employers, national media and specialist trade publications to source and advertise jobs. Face to face client meetings and candidate interviews were essential in ensuring best-fit for the specialist technical orientated customer base. As time progressed, what was initially a manual process became digital and large databases of potential candidates were created.

Technology has impacted how recruitment companies search and attract new talent and the process that individuals utilise to find their next role and suitable employer. David Philpott, Redline Group’s Manager for permanent R&D, recently discussed the changes in technology over his 18 year career and how it has affected candidates, employers and recruiters alike. Having recently completing his anniversary of 14 years with Redline Group, it was a great time to review the rapidly changing technology landscape and evaluate some of the technologies which have affected the way in which Redline Group source, select and recruit in specialist and knowledge-led niche market environments.

“The biggest technology change of the last 10 years is the proliferation of the internet into mainstream society. It started with the widespread adoption of email. From that modest foothold, the internet grew to become what it is today: the de-facto medium for human communication in the Technical and Engineering recruitment sector.”

David explains: “Technology has significantly changed. We have seen the introduction of so many great technology products, Moore’s observation which transformed computing from a rare and expensive venture into a pervasive and affordable necessity. All of the modern computing technology we know today, sprang from the foundation laid by Moore’s Law. From the Internet itself, to social media and modern data analytics, all these innovations stem directly from Moore and his findings.

In a time where applying for a job meant either showing up in person to fill out an application, or mailing or faxing a resume to a company, it was all about to change. In the late 90s and early 00s, two new types of job boards appeared: niche boards and networks. Niche sites focused on particular industries, job titles, or geographic areas. Networks incorporated multiple sites, providing employers with the ability to target by location or industry, while still purchasing from one vendor. The first ‘official’ job board was launched in 1992 by Bill Warren known as Online Career Center (Dice actually launched in 1990, but as a bulletin board (BBS), rather than a website). Warren’s creation was sold to TMP in 1995 and merged with Monster. Job boards made it as simple as a few clicks to apply for a job or multiple jobs with many companies.

With the internet giving access to an online method of job searching, internet access became mobile when Nokia (originally a paper mill operator) introduced its Nokia 9000. Known as the Communicator, the device was “huge, heavy and ugly” with a monochrome screen the size of a postage stamp. However, it was the forerunner of the iPhone and Android based systems and was the first mobile phone to allow web access with the capabilities of a full QWERTY keyboard. The Nokia 9000 Communicator was a cellular phone that was a smartphone before the word was invented. It rolled all of the features of a computer into a phone, putting email, web browsing, fax, word processing and spreadsheets into a single pocket-sized device.

A new way of communicating was about to make a huge impact on the world with the launch of Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi was first released for consumers in 1997, when a committee called 802.11 was set up. IEEE802.11 was the name for a set of standards used when setting up a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). The basic specification for Wi-Fi was created, which allowed for two mega-bits per second of data transfer. In the technology and communications sector, engineers immediately began to work on prototype equipment to comply with Wi-Fi. In 1999, the release of routers sparked the beginning of the wide use of Wi-Fi in businesses and at home allowing individuals to access the internet on several devices within one location.

Wi-Fi and mobile Internet access has accelerated the recruitment industry. Monster may have been the first mega-job board of its kind and but it was closely followed by and the now defunct In addition to a host of others, job boards turned technical and engineering recruitment into a highly lucrative business for many more people and we saw the entry of new players and niche consultancies.

With the developments in communication speed, video calling started to be demonstrated and in 2000 the E-mailer (often stylized as E-m@iler) a device made by Amstrad, was launched. This was essentially a telephone with an LCD screen and limited Internet dialup and email messaging capabilities. Though relatively unsuccessful this roadmap was soon followed up by companies such as Skype with the first application that provided a video chat and voice call service. This tool is now widely used by recruiters, companies and individuals alike having brought cheap video conferencing to the masses, meaning face to face meetings were not always needed. At the end of 2010, there were over 660 million worldwide users, with over 300 million estimated active each month as of 2015.

In the mid-2000s, two key changes occurred. First, job aggregators such as Indeed began assembling job content from multiple job boards and providing a single search mechanism. At the same time LinkedIn was launched as a business-oriented social networking service. This professional networking forum made it easier for potential recruiters and employers to identify employees.”

David explained “These rapid changes have also affected the skills required for engineering and software jobs that our clients have hired. We are all familiar with, and many of us purchased an iPod when it was originally launched in October 2001, about 8½ months after iTunes was released. That initial development required extensive hardware and semiconductor advancements but today the iPod technology is a low cost platform generally integrated into mobile phones. Though hardware development utilising a mix of technology from digital, micro, FPGA, RF and analog which is critical in some of the new fields such as wearables and IoT, more and more solutions have an emphasis on high volume hardware platforms with the key technology drivers being in the software. Today every industrial company wants C++, C# or Java developers, whereas 15 years ago it was more likely to be Assembler or C software engineering jobs.

Adam Walker, Redline Group Director comments: “With my experience as an electronics engineer and 25+ years in technology recruitment we have had to grasped such technical advances and develop our recruitment processes and strategies to identify the new talent regardless if the individual was from the baby boomer, Generation X, Y or Z spectrums. Future developments in technology, such as the internet of things (IoT), Big Data and mobile are all areas we focus and assist our clients in defining candidate competencies, job descriptions and the skills required. In fact, technology will start to replace some jobs especially with advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) but technology has always been a great enabler for human creativity and innovation, however not a complete replacement. These challenges are great news for technical job seekers who possess the digital skills necessary to work with technology, as they will find themselves in high demand. Here at Redline Group, we have already seen numerous tasks becoming automated, leaving our professional technical recruitment consultants to focus on the core elements of identifying scarce and highly sort after talent for our clients.”

For more information on Redline Group's Engineering & Technical Recruitment, visit Redline Engineering & Technical Division.