“I remember when this was all fields, as far as the eye can see!” When I was young, this was one of my Dad’s favourite phrases.   With the passing of time, some of us older geezers can now say this about the Online Recruitment industry.

16 years ago (or thereabouts) an industry was born. Pioneers and true entrepreneurs were at the forefront of a movement to challenge a business, which had largely remained the same for 100 years. Such were the vested interests, that the prospect of this challenge was met with derision and even apathy. Men at the dawn of this industry included Robbie Cowling, Keith, Eric and Graham Potts, Don McIntosh, and Keith Robinson.  At that time, there were no big business or media players interested in using the Internet for recruitment.  Fortunately, that meant the way was clear for these men (there weren’t any women) to write the rule book, and invent online recruitment from scratch.  Without the backing of big companies, and usually without an overdraft either, these people gambled their livelihoods on a completely unproven business model.

Many of the early entrepreneurs successfully cashed-out when it became clear that they were becoming a threat to the established model of advertising jobs. Indeed, almost all of the serious contenders in today’s market are now owned by the UK’s biggest publishing and media companies.  After the Millennium we saw a fresh batch of entrepreneurs in our industry.  Notable amongst them (from my perspective anyway) are Lee Biggins, Ian Partington, Dan McGuire,  Simon Appleton and his business partner Tony Jewel, and a very notable mention of Joe Slavin.

So is that it?  Now that big business is wise to the potential of online recruitment as a profitable and strategic sector, are we seeing the end of the speculative startup?  Not a bit of it.  Since 2008, and throughout the years of this recent recession, we have witnessed an amazing wealth in innovation, speculation, and risk-taking by a new raft of entrepreneurs, who believe they can improve on the now-accepted norms of this business.

“Who are they then?”, I hear you ask.  Well, in the week before the 11th National Online Recruitment Awards, I’m not going to name names.  I will, however, direct your attention to the Finalists shortlisted for the NORAs this year.  As we step into our 2nd decade of the NORAs, I am truly as excited as I ever was about the future of Online Recruitment in the UK.