R.I.P Database Based Recruitment?

September 2017 by Jamie Braddock


Neat hair, sharp suit, and polished loafers – the uniform of the original 80’s recruiter. The glory days, the first edition head hunters, the professional network-ers.

Well, that’s what I’m told.

I never saw the ’80s, much less recruited in them, and as good as my induction into the life of a recruitment consultant was, it (unfortunately) didn’t include a module on ‘recruitment history’. But should it have?

In the days before computers, electronic filing systems, databases with advanced filters, and the interweb, a recruiter made their living by knowing more people than the next person, finding out who the best talent is in their targeted industry, and picking them out for roles that they feel would interest and excite. The original matchmakers. Recruitment probably hasn’t ever been, nor ever will be, as personal.

Then came the 90’s.

The introduction of PCs, laptops, mobile phones, the Spice Girls, the internet, email – everything’s changing. Everything is becoming faster. No longer did you need to remember people, you could file them away under advanced categories and subcategories. You could contact 10,000 people in an afternoon at the click of a button.

“Use me, I have a database of 10,000 candidates”, “Use me, I have a database of 50,000 people”, “Use me, I have a database of 1,000,000 people”.

These were the pitches of the ’90s. The heydays of the database. The days where the smoothest talking salesperson was always a company’s top performer.
The 00’s hit us with a bang, and not just because we escaped the Millennium Bug and the demise of the 8th Wonder of the World – the Spice Girls.

From here on in PC’s, mobile phones, and the internet were no longer just playthings of the rich and famous or corporate office necessities, they were rapidly moving towards household objects.

This meant that job-seeking became more and more online-based. Job seekers were now able to log on to one centralised search engine and seek out many of the opportunities that once upon a time would be hidden up a recruiter’s sleeve.

The shift in technology and the range of information now available at the click of a button really changed the landscape of recruitment. Very quickly candidates were able to establish a connection with multiple recruiters and become members of multiple databases. Almost out of nowhere the recruitment landscape was shifting. You could no longer rely on candidate exclusivity.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin, 1809

Darwin’s theory of evolution is most succinctly described as ‘survival of the fittest’. Within that theory, the argument is made that those resistant to change will not survive. This definitely happened within the world of recruitment. There were inevitable casualties.

The veterans of the 80’s glory days were OK, they had an arsenal of skills to revert to when the simple sell of ‘my database is bigger than your database’ began to fail. They were able to understand an organisation’s needs and wants, understand a candidate’s needs and wants, and match them up. Some of the new generations were also able to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

You now needed much more than a database to survive in the fast-paced world of professional matchmaking.

So that brings us to the modern-day. Surely the world of recruitment has evolved as quickly and efficiently as everything else?

I’m very sad to say that I don’t believe it has.


Wi-Fi, smartphones, and social media paved the way for everyone to be more connected than ever. I am now able to instantly send a message to the pocket of someone that ten seconds before I didn’t know existed. LinkedIn has very quickly trumped every database in the world. As of April 2017, LinkedIn had over 500,000,000 users. 500,000,000 people that you can target and contact in minutes. SEEK almost monopolises the online job board market for Australia and you are now able to access any SEEK user’s current resume. Within seconds that resume is in your inbox.

Couple that information with the fact that more than ever before the job market favours the candidate. In most industries across Australia, there are more vacancies for skilled and qualified staff than there are skilled and qualified unemployed people to fill them. If you are reading this and have ever employed someone directly then I’m sure you will understand the joys of endless unrelated ad responses.

So when you factor all of this in, why are there so many agencies that still solely rely on their database or posting an advert on SEEK? You may get lucky, the perfect candidate may be surfing the job sites at just the right time to apply and it’s a match made in heaven, but realistically how often is that the case?

By the same token, an agency may currently be working with the perfect person for the perfect role and then everything is rosy and everyone is happy. But again, how often is that the case?

How often do you interview people and just go for the person that ticks the most boxes?

I believe this has to change.

In a world more connected than ever before you shouldn’t have to settle for someone that is nearly the ideal candidate, and as a recruiter, we shouldn’t be resting on our laurels and hoping that the right person comes to us. We have to go back to the ways of our (recruitment) forefathers and understand the organisations we work with, understand what they need, and find that exact person. We shouldn’t just be shotgunning CV’s and hoping one hits the target.

The beauty of this approach is that we no longer have to restrict ourselves to one niche area. With the help of the world’s biggest and most public databases of professional’s, we can now afford to truly get to understand an organisation. We can understand the people, the culture, and the overall ethos to the point where we almost become another arm of that organisation and they can trust us with the procurement of everyone, from reception to CEO and anything in between.

I say RIP to the Database.

At Tradewind we believe that ongoing and lasting relationships are the key to obtaining this level of understanding and trust with a client, and our Bespoke Recruitment arm aims to provide a service for those that want more than just the CV’s of the small percentage of people actively seeking work, hoping to get lucky and finding that special someone.

We don’t just rely on our database.

Bespoke Recruitment is there for those that want to cast the net wider and target those people that are known for being the best in the industry, to not just wait for the right person, but to actively go out in to the world and handpick the best talent and introduce them to opportunities they didn’t even know existed because they have never had to use a recruiter before and are therefore not on anyone’s database, and haven’t looked at a SEEK advert since they applied for their current role 5 years ago.

Don’t settle for just OK. Don’t settle for “that’ll do”.

The modern world means that you don’t have to, so why would you choose to?

Disclaimer: This article is only relevant for permanent/contract based recruitment. Temporary/casual recruitment still benefits from a database of vetted and available candidates.