Do you remember typing your resume up on an electric typewriter (lol even I don't go back as far as the manual typewriters). One for each company you were applying for. Back in the 1980's jobs were in short supply. It was normal for someone to send out 200 resumes before they received an interview. Each resume had to be typed individually. Stuffed into an envelope, stamped and posted or dropped off manually hoping this might give you a leg up on the competition. Every morning a mini forest landed in the mailroom, sorted into a cart and delivered to the Hiring Manager by the "mail girl" (that was how I started at Ontario Hydro). Reams of resumes had to be sorted into job categories and then sorted into: trash, contact, keep on file. And yes you are right, all these people were then contacted by mail or phone depending on the decision. Answering machines were in short supply in homes in the 70s and 80s, so it was OK to phone the company to see what the status was on your application. The next step was storage. The resumes that weren't put in the trash were stored in big grey filing cabinets. After their "shelf live expired" they were archived - which meant put in a box and stored in another location. There was no recycling back then and we hated throwing anything away. If you didn't have a good filing system good luck finding anything in this paper filled "big data" system.
One of the companies I worked for in the early 90's used to scan 1000's of paper resumes into their databases every day. It was a very basic database, name, contact info and a dump of the resume.
Along came the Recruiter
Large companies like IBM, Ontario Hydro, General Electric, etc soon figured out that they couldn't keep up with the piles of paper resumes coming in. What to do? Here's a great idea let's outsource it to a "Headhunting/Recruiter" company. They can deal with all the paper, the follow up with the people we aren't interested in and do the screening of the applicants we are seriously interested in.
Next step was the Applicant Tracking System "ATS"
The monster job board was created in 1994. Companies jumped onboard paying the fees to use their online database. The late 1990s found companies running their own ATS systems. If you go onto the TD site today there are 21 pages of jobs with the keyword "Developer" in it. If you are interested in one of these positions, be prepared for 15 minutes of ticking boxes and entering data before you even attach your resume. Don't forget anything or - boom - rejected. Your resume then goes into a MASSIVE database of potential employees.
The ATS morphed into individual databases for SMBs. Recruiting companies's can easily have 100,000 entries in their databases. Now comes the problem, how do you deal with all this information?
Big Data and HR is a 2-way Street
This is where H2H (human 2 human) is still an important part of the HR and Big Data Analytics system. They have to work together. What is the most important thing you both can do to keep the system working properly?
HR - means Human Resources, hiring a person can't be done strictly from a database. Resumes are your history, databases are a means of contact. To land the job you have to bring the H2H into the process.
Based in Toronto, PLANET4iT is a Canadian-owned and operated recruitment and placement agency that helps companies and employment seekers survive the Digital Revolution