The recession has sped up the decline of recruitment agencies in favour of e-hiring, exclusive research by Personnel Today has found.
Nearly half (48%) of the 400 employers surveyed in the study, conducted in conjunction with e-recruitment provider WCN, said they had reduced their recruitment agency budget since last year.
Two-thirds (66%) admitted they were using their company websites as a recruitment tool for most jobs, while one-third (32%) said they used online jobs boards.
Peter Gold, founder of recruitment consultancy Hire Strategies, said employers were moving to e-recruitment not only to save costs, but to improve the candidate experience of applying for jobs, because it cut out the 'middle man'.
"E-recruitment is no longer a fad, and for the majority of generalist jobs agency spend is being reduced," he told Personnel Today. 'Firms can save money and get the right people while providing a fantastic journey for candidates.
"There is a real pressure on agencies," he added. However, for more senior or specialist jobs, recruitment agencies would always play a part, he said.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) insisted recruitment agencies were never going to be phased out entirely.
Chief executive Kevin Green said: "It's nonsense that this recession has marked the beginning of the end for recruitment agencies. When demand picks up again employers won't have the resources or the skills to sift through the marketplace for the best candidates."
Meanwhile, Green said the REC was "investigating" complaints from some of its members that a trial recruitment agency set up by the Guardian newspaper in February was cherry-picking candidates that had applied for roles with its paid clients and putting them forward for other opportunities with their consent.
The Guardian said it was not doing anything illegal, adding that jobseekers often applied for more than one job at a time.