Recruitment History Timeline Evolution

Recruitment History Timeline Evolution
Recruitment History Timeline Evolution Infographics

The Recruitment History Timeline Evolution is as old as human settlement. Back in the caveman days, there were only a few professions. Either you were a hunter or a gatherer. Cavemen “Recruited” for these positions based on specific skills and qualifications.

3500 BCE Slavery the Birth of Recruitment Industry

The oldest and most dreadful form of Recruitment History Timeline Evolution was slavery – the system under which people were treated as property. Slavery operated in the very first civilization such as Sumer in Mesopotamia.

3300 BCE to 1300 BCE First Civilization with Skilled Labour & Jobs Specialization

The Indus Valley Civilization had many Jobs that had to be conducted in order to sustain a proper lifestyle. Some jobs included trading goods, farming, making of fire, bricking house, making toys out of clay, pottery, Metallurgy Works etc. There were skilled artisans and craftsmen, builders, carpenters, metalworkers, leather workers, weavers, and of course potters, much beautiful pottery was discovered in the Indus Valley. Indus Valley cities had indoor plumbing, with drainage pipes, and there were men employed to maintain the plumbing and sewage system of the cities. In a Recent discovery, Keeladi (village between Madurai and Sivagangai districts, in Tamil Nadu) was unearthed which shows the pots, ivories, ornaments made of stones & varied collection of colourful gems with names written on it. They were also like the ones used in Indus Valley Civilization which proves that Keeladi had educated skilled labour.

2700 BCE First Head Hunting

The historic act of headhunting is quite disturbing, yet fascinating. The literal practice of taking and preserving a person’s head after killing them, this has advanced from ancient times to the 21st century to recruit a senior or head of the organization. In recorded history, the first war was Sumer vs. Elam. King En-me-barage-si of Kish (the first post-diluvian Sumerian king) commanded Sumerian forces and won the war. The world witnessed first Head-Hunting concept of recruiting commanders for the war.

2686 BCE – 1550 BCE First Mass Recruitment was at Ancient Egypt

Formal recruitment practices existed as far back as 2686 B.C. in Egypt during the period known as the Old Kingdom. First tallest mega construction structure project was Great Pyramid of Giza, it introduced labour camp, gang worker concept. The Gang worker concept was used with two gangs of 100,000 men & 10,000 skilled workers were used for construction. There were officials responsible for recruiting, training and logistics, which already displayed a high level of organizing Recruitment History Timeline Evolution.

55 BCE Employee Referral

The first known “Employee Referral” program was founded by the one and only Julius Caesar. In the collections of the British Museum, there is a decree signed by Julius Caesar in 55 B.C., promising a reward of 300 sestertii to any soldier who brought a referral to join the Roman army. Soldiers earned 10-12 pieces of gold per year. Benefits of working for the army included substantial grants of cash or land upon discharge, worth as much as 200 pieces of gold, during retirement. The Romans were by no means alone. Other societies (the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Chinese) also contributed to the developing recruiting practices, some of which are still with us today.

50 BCE Birth of Recruiters (Recruitment History Timeline Evolution)

Roman Recruitment History Timeline Evolution standards were very high and had a precise Job description where the candidate must be a Roman citizen and must also be capable of walking 20 miles with weapons. Because of dangerous and hazardous work culture, not many people were keen to join the army. Roman Army recruitment teams traveled across the country to conduct walk-in interviews and headhunting to find the right candidates.

For a long time, hiring for the army was directed from Rome at the direction of the Consul or leader of the Senate. Provincial governors and commanders in the field had no authority to recruit anyone. The scenario changed around 50 B.C., when recruitment committee was formed, allowing them to hire locally and giving them the authority to pick talented employees from public which made recruitment unbiased, faster and more efficient.

Roman Emperor Hadrian was the first to enforce citizens to perform military service as part of their duty to the state annually (Just like National Service (NS) is compulsory for all 18-year-old male Singapore citizens).

5 CE Thirukkural’s Introduction to Recruitment and Selection Concept

The Recruitment History Timeline Evolution was found in ancient Tamil literature (Thirukkural’s Recruitment and Selection concept) in India. Thirukkural’s theory of recruitment can be explained with the help of translating the verses of chapter 51 and 52 respectively.  It provides understanding of recruitment and selection concept & essential skills needed in developing a recruiter’s role.

35 CE First Foreign Worker / Temporary Staffing

The Greeks had huge needs for recruitment in their armies. The Hellenistic states were small, with small populations, and frequently at war. They relied heavily on mercenaries, which had to be recruited from elsewhere, large numbers of non-Greeks were being hired as soldiers. Two types of recruitment were common in this period which is permanent & contracts. It was carried out by recruiting official’s clauses allowing citizens to serve as Troops (Permanent employment). These mercenaries were well-paid, and usually only hired for nine- or 10-month contracts (Temporary Staffing). It was the first foreign worker program. Since it was not possible to hire enough skilled people by Romans, they started hiring people on a temporary basis from Germany, Arabia, Armenia, etc.; they were used more as backup candidates for the Roman army.

700 CE Introduction of Employment Assessment & Test

The contribution of the Chinese to recruitment was the development of formal employment testing. The Chinese had introduced a system of examinations for entering the civil services as early as the seventh century A.D., but it was used to only hire a very small number of civil servants. At the beginning of the 10th century, during the Sung dynasty the system was expanded to fill most positions and to recruit commoners.

1066 CE Feudalism

When William the Conqueror became King of England in 1066, he introduced feudal system in Britain. British society was built around feudal obligations – duties men owed to their social superiors in return for being allowed to live off the land. Perhaps the most important tool in recruiting an army, these obligations were used to recruit lords and gentry to serve as knights and men-at-arms, through the obligations they owed the king. They, in turn, were owed service by people living on their lands, who were obliged to turn up with specific Armour and weapons depending on their wealth.

1350 CE First Labour Law

During 1347 AD, shortages of talent and the problems with finding qualified workers gave rise to the first employment laws. The Black Death had ravaged Europe, with some countries losing as much as half their populations. This caused massive shortages of labour, and the survivors found that they could charge a premium for their work and can also choose what to accept. The result was the creation of the first labour law in 1350 that set wages and restricted mobility. To maintain stability, it was nothing but an attempt to reduce competition for talent and keep the working class in its place. Europe is still dealing with the legacy of that law seven centuries later.

1650 CE First Public Recruitment Agency

First public Recruitment Agency was established in 1650 by Henry Robinson, an “Office of Addresses and Encounters” that would link employers to workers. The British Parliament rejected the proposal, then he himself opened such a business, which was short-lived.

1873 CE First Private Recruitment Agency

First Private Recruitment Agency was Gabbitas & Thring, founded in 1873 by John Gabbitas who recruited schoolmasters for public schools in England.

1940 Birth of Modern Recruitment Agency

Modern Recruitment Consultancy was born out of WWII to recruit Soldiers & other office bearing workers. Recruitment Agency started advertising through word of mouth to fill the job vacancies in the workplace (Military Service). Once the war ended, the recruitment agencies started finding new opportunities for the returning war veterans. As a result, recruiting agencies started working for job seekers initially.

Medium of Recruitment

  • Word of Mouth
  • Face to Face Application

1950-1970 Introduction of Resume & Newspaper Ads

People started creating Resumes with personal profiles and skills on a paper. However, things changed with the increasing economy in the 1970’s, recruiting agencies began to work for companies as these expanding businesses started to outsource their recruitment/hiring needs. Agencies used bulletin boards and gradually started with paid advertisements in the newspapers. Also, the resumes were written with the typewriter and handed directly to agency / recruiter.

Medium of Recruitment

  • Word of Mouth
  • Face to Face Application
  • Local Newspapers
  • Bulletin notice board at public place

1980’s Recruitment via Home Computer & fax machines

Recruitment Agencies started receiving standardized styled CVs making resume processes efficient. With the introduction of fax machines, recruitment agencies increased their reach of sourcing the candidates by sending and receiving CVs and other documents in minutes. Advertising for current job opening was quite easy due to prominence of paid advertising in the newspapers. Home computers entered the market in the late 1970s and started becoming popular in the 1980s. Recruitment agencies took advantage of this by using computers for applicant tracking systems and candidate databases were used for CV storage.

Medium of Recruitment

  • Word of Mouth
  • Face to Face Application
  • Local Newspapers
  • Bulletin notice board at public place
  • Flyers & Posters
  • Fax Machines

 1990’s Era of Recruitment through Internet begins

With the introduction of world wide web, recruitment agencies started exploring online job portals like monster & Naukri and online classified job ads to ease the Recruitment History Timeline Evolution and candidate sourcing. Discovery of Electronic mail (Email) provided recruitment agencies ability to send the resumes and other document via email. Geometric Results Inc (GRI) introduced one of the first significant VMS applications in the industry named peopleNet in 1995. Introduction of Vendor Management System (VMS) was a stepping-stone to technology-driven recruitment. With the arrival of Application Tracking System (ATS) and candidate Managing application, storing candidate data became quite easier, improving the Recruitment History Timeline Evolution.

Medium of Recruitment

  • Local Newspapers
  • Fax Machines
  • Emails
  • Job Portals
  • ATS & VMS

2000s Age of Social Media Recruitment

Agencies shifted their focus from online boards to Job Aggregators like indeed that emerged in mid – 2000s to source candidates. Due to the prominence of VMS & ATS, Agencies have begun to be more technology Savvy rather than being just relationship driven. Moreover, Since Job board was limited to sourcing active candidates, recruitment agencies started trying hands on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram Etc., & Introduction of Infographic Resume to present qualification in visually engaging manner that created a new category for active sourcing by bringing candidate profile data online.


In March 2019, the first robot to conduct unbiased job interviews was tested out by Swedish recruiters. Her name is Tengai. Measuring 41cm (16in) tall and weighing 3.5kg (7.7lbs) she’s at eye level as she sits on top of a table directly across from the candidate she’s about to interview.


Robot Vera is an AI service which finds candidates, conduct interviews, and screens resumes. There are plenty of new ways to interview but this approach offers results that are up to 10 times faster than traditional human interaction. The firm only started two years ago but already boasts big-name clients such as PepsiCo and L’Oreal.


In order to avoid bias and select applications fairly, assisted algorithm selection will be developed within the next ten years. Recruiters will get access to powerful computer programs that can analyse data, talent pools and databases, and then in wider big data collections, in order to shortlist the perfect candidates for roles, regardless of their gender, age etc.


The changes in technology will make huge impact on the way we hire. We have to prepare ourselves to witness and embrace the changes the future of recruitment has in store.

The Recruitment History Timeline Evolution will continue with next recruitment platform will be in Metaverse, with trade test, hiring and selection process will be decentralized in future.