How to survive the end of the recruitment industry

“Oh look, another person beckoning for the end of our industry… this’ll be good…” you’re no doubt scoffing as you casually peruse the opening few paragraphs of yet another hack piece.

Wait right there my friend. This isn’t that.

For what it’s worth, I can’t see the end of recruitment. Probably ever. But there are parts of it, which I referred to in a previous article which I think are rife for extermination.

OK, that might be a bit strong, but I’m desperate to not use the term ‘disruption’ lest I turn you off even more.

As I mentioned here, there are those in recruitment for whom transaction is the name of the game. And the software available from companies like the one I work for (no plug necessary) will definitely speed up the beginning of the end.

But only for those individuals. The human process will always be required. Just like expertise, credibility, knowledge, trust and skin in the game will be.

Sadly however, there are many in the industry somewhat bereft of those attributes.

The cause of the end?




Doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s the ever-marching evolution of computers that’ll realise this particular sticky end.

But here’s an interesting point to ponder… who’ll be the first to wield the weapon?

In my opinion, it’s highly unlikely to be a third party. It’s incredibly unlikely someone who’s never worked in recruitment will somehow bring about the apocalypse.

Actually, I think there’s only one argument you can make.

And that is, that the industry itself will create the first point of disruption.

Like a cannibalistic missile right to the heart of the industry.

And here’s why…

The front line

At some point in the not-too-distant future, there’ll be a recruitment manager who realises the power of the Tech on offer.

They’ll sit up at their desk and realise the money they’re paying their recruiters to essentially send emails is ‘madness’. And bear in mind here, I’m not talking about you.

I’m talking about someone who harnesses the power of matching technology and essentially delivers poorly tailored copy, in a bulk email, to fairly well matched recipients.

Of course, within that section of ‘fairly well matched recipients’ is normally about 3,000 other people who either delete on arrival, or mutter expletives as they ham the unsubscribe button for the third time that week.

And as with most disruptions in business, I believe this one will be driven by money.

And most notably, the possibility of saving it.

After all, you know what they say, saving money’s like making money.

And even the most humanist of recruiters would probably tell you they’re financially driven to some degree.

The big change

But it won’t be the cost of a salary which will force the change in approach. More the fact the current crop of transactional trailblazers get commission for each placement they make.

And that’s all great n all.

But if you’re paying for Tech to do the vast majority of the work, what are recruitment founders and leaders actually paying for?

Well, not much in reality.

And this will force the hand of those managers one way or another. There’s the option for them to pass the message on that the recruiters using matching tech and AI become relationship driven.

To essentially earn their crust.

And that might force some recruiters and the businesses that employ them to improve their offering. But that won’t change the industry.

More bring them in line with those already at the top end.

It’s the other option that’s interesting.

Where founders declare their teams redundant and either do without entirely, or hire ‘Tech Managers’ or ‘content writers’ to deliver their offering.

If you’re getting an image here of someone whipping a sales floor of robots, that’s slightly amiss.

Their actual output will be more email creation, or sales writing and admin. With relationships held and developed by the founder themselves.

OK, say you’re right. What changes?

For clients? Not much.

There may be far more independent agencies. Far more founders. More startups and perhaps more roles filled ironically. But there’ll also be more choice.

I’d imagine the agencies bringing about this new robotic offering may be the ones inclined to race to the bottom. Those willing to accept flat fees. The kind with little to lose in lowering fees across the board.

For candidates? It’s probably going to annoy.

I’d say if you’re a candidate who’s mass applying to roles on Indeed or Monster, it may be bad news. You’ll hear from a real person even less and get no personalised feedback on the quality of your application.

Of course, for some, any feedback’s a positive. And a robot is possibly more likely to call you back if it’s programmed in their hardware.

For applicants who appreciates human interaction however, they’ll just need to make sure they’re working with the right agency.

But then, that’s no different to now, is it?

What about the rest of the industry?

Well, their human, relationship building competitors will probably be pitted as the middle ground. The level between this lowest tech matched offering and retained search firms.


This is probably the best way to think of the evolution of our fair sector. And if we’re being fair, it’s nothing new.

Yes, this next ‘disruption’ will be more like a product. But products in recruitment aren’t really a new thing.

In the same way mini RPO models have come in with subscriptions and promises of impacting diversity, so recruitment products driven by AI matching will offer lower priced alternatives for the masses.

Will everyone like it? Obviously not.

But then… it’s recruitment. It’d be weird if they did.

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