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How Recruitment Will Get “Uberised”

By May 5, 2016One Comment

You know how the English Oxford Dictionary always releases new words each year that have become such a common part of the language that they earn a place all of their own? I’m pretty sure that Uber will be there soon, or more specifically the verb “to Uberise”.

As a word it already existed of course, just in the German language instead. But just as the brand name “Hoover” became a noun in England and hoovering replaced vacuum cleaning, so “uberising” seems to be doing the same thing.

It’s meaning will probably be explained as something like “an industry disrupting innovation based on a technology platform” or something like that. At the RHUB conference last week the question of whether recruitment can be “Uberised” was predictably put to the panel of recruitment industry leaders that I had corralled up on stage.

It seems as if us recruitment agencies are frozen in some kind of perpetual stasis of fear, grimacing as we provide our contingent recruitment services, knowing its days are numbered but clueless as to how else to operate, just waiting for the uber moment when we are “found out” and instantly replaced by technology.



It won’t happen like that though. Not in the recruitment industry anyway. What makes Uber such a ferociously disruptive innovation is the speed with which it grew and dominated the previously smug and happy taxi industry. I just don’t see the same silver bullet suddenly materialising in our recruitment industry.  Nearly everyone can drive a car. The same can’t be said of recruiting. Despite the fact that most people outside recruitment can’t fathom what we do, how we do it, and assume it must be just a simple administrative process, after 9 years recruiting recruiters I can assure you that the recruitment skill, or craft, is an elusive attribute to find in people.

It will happen gradually though. In fact it already is. Some of the best elements of Uber, like the ability for driver and rider to rate each other, is already being developed by SEEK who will soon roll out a new add on where recruiters can be rated by job seekers.

We all know our industry is ripe for disruption. But we’ve also seen too many efforts by clever tech start ups try and fail to replace us with technology. So rather than fear uberisation, if you will, agencies really should embrace the gradual evolution of our sector. It will absolutely change over the years to come, and some of that change will incorporate elements of the Uber product, but don’t fear it.

Embrace it. Be part of the change. Try new things. Gradually evolve your model. Recruitment will change and evolve, but it should actually be us recruiters working in agencies who are part of that change, rather than sitting on our holes waiting for a bullet in the head.

There’s a good debate on this over on LinkedIn here too.

Welcome to our new look blog too. Hope you like it. Who’s going to be the first to comment?!

Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

One Comment

  • Lee says:

    Like the new look guys – clean.
    I also agree with trying stuff and giving things a crack. What’s the worst that can happen?