What has become of us recruitment agencies?
I’m sure that, once upon a time, the concept of recruitment as a professional service was lauded. Providing outsourced recruitment expertise for companies, so they could concentrate on doing what they do best rather than waste time recruiting, was eagerly welcomed by industry. But fifty years or so on, it is starting to appear to me that we have created a beast that is getting out of control. Jobseekers fear us, prospects avoid us and clients either revile us or use us begrudgingly.
Here we are in 2014 and the range of “recruitment alternatives” out there continue to gather momentum. Apart from the growth of in-house recruitment models, businesses like One Shift are also moving into the New Zealand market, a business that upset Ross Clennett towards the end of 2013 with their public damning of our industry:
The recruitment industry is broken. It’s completely exploitative, and is responsible for huge amounts of dissatisfaction on both sides of the employment equation – jobseekers and employers. If you’re still using big recruiters to find your talent, you’re relying on an outdated, needlessly expensive and ineffective process. Stop wasting your money.
And of course, facing such scorn from the wider business community, we also love to turn on ourselves. Customise Consulting, a recruitment agency here in New Zealand that relies on a more flexible, technology-lead model to deliver to its’ clients and house its’ recruiters, has started spreading a video that heaps yet more opprobrium on the traditional recruitment model:
Then, to round the week off nicely, I received a call from a mutual contact who works in an IT services company yesterday. She had a story to relay to me about something she regarded as shocking behaviour from a recruitment agency. The funny thing is you’ve probably heard most of it before (certainly from this particular agency, a global recruiter who are probably complained about significantly more than any other agency out there).
Here’s the bit you probably hear all the time – and may well happen in your own agency: A client of this IT services company had decided she wanted a new job, and being impressed with the work delivered by this company, she had a coffee with them to inquire about employment opportunities in their firm. That same day, she also registered with the IT division of this global agency who had her sign a registration form. The next day the company she had already met with for a coffee received her CV from the agency, unsolicited, and in a bulk email containing a few more CVs too. Finding out about this the jobseeker told them she was already speaking to them and hadn’t given permission for her CV to be sent out. As it turns out, though, she had. The form she signed, and didn’t read properly (it’s 2 pages long in very small writing, but hey – “buyer beware” and all), gave them the permission they needed.
So far so what, right? It’s embarrassing behaviour but seems to have almost become de rigueur in how we operate nowadays. The interesting bit is when she went to the recruiter’s manager to complain. Upon being told that she had signed permission for her CV to be sent out anywhere, she dug in a bit further to find out how many places her CV had been sent to? What number are you thinking, right now? Really? OK try upping it a bit. The number of “clients” her CV was spammed out to was… 30.
Yep. Thirty. Three Zero.
And the kicker? She was told, with great hubris, “this is just what all recruitment companies do these days”.
Brilliant eh? Doesn’t it make you proud to be a recruiter? Where once we took in a job brief and filled roles for growing businesses, we now spray CVs around like confetti at a wedding, hoping that some of it lands on the happy couple before the other guests realise it’s a wedding you hadn’t even been invited to in the first place. It seems, to me, that a lot of recruiters are these days just trying to scam money out of clients’ pockets in any way they can, the main aim being to send a CV in before a competing firm does, and hopefully before your “client” has a chance to meet the jobseeker directly through their own means.
Nice work, recruitment. No wonder we’re seeing businesses like One Shift and Customise take aim and fire.
The question is though: do we have any defence?