The recruitment industry can be viewed as the necessary evil, and I can understand the negativity through the horror stories that I hear from clients and candidates. The tales of false job ads to bolster databases, to CVs being sent around unsolicited and consultants not interviewing or screening candidates but still sending their CVs to clients. Most of these behaviours are due to a lack of training. Other complaints include unreturned phone messages and emails otherwise known as ghosting, as well as candidates receiving no reply at all on the outcome despite taking the time to prepare and send an application for an advertised job. I put this down to a lack of business acumen and professionalism. Having been in the industry for over 20 years, I have heard them all.
I have probably been asked thousands of times over the years what I do for a living and when I answer that I am a recruitment consultant, I can’t recall the response being someone sharing a positive story, but one that involves a negative experience.
I often compare the recruitment industry with the real estate sector. Recruitment consultants and real estate agents are both out there searching for clients to either fill their jobs or sell their houses. They then go to market using a database or online advertising to find the candidate or buyer. Both require good sales skills as well as the ability to match to a criteria, build a level of trust and then negotiate a favourable outcome for both parties.
But there is one major difference. In Australia, the real estate sector has a governing body, but the recruitment industry doesn’t. Sure, there is a membership body which offers some support, but membership is optional, and they have no power to set standards or enforce ethical processes and procedures.
What this means is that there is a clear code of ethics and guidelines that real estate agents must adhere to and if they don’t there are serious consequences. Agents can be fined or worst-case scenario, lose their licences to operate. So, what is at stake for recruiters that act unethically? They end up destroying their employers’ brand and worse still, tarnish the industry.
Recruiters need to be proud of what they do and the value that they add. However, this can be difficult when it has been tarnished by so many. With no barriers to entry and no code to adhere to, it is open slather, and anyone can have a go. Should this be the case in a professional services industry?
Tough times that we are currently experiencing can sort the wheat out from the chaff. A good downturn can rid the industry of the unethical and poor performers and only those delivering quality service will survive.
The responsibility is on everyone to ensure that we lift our game and our industry’s reputation. Recruitment companies need to deliver effective training to their people, recruiters need to focus on delivering a quality and ethical service to employers and candidates, and employers need to make sure that they are only engaging quality service providers. After all, they are out in the market representing their company and their employer brand.