Standards? It’s money that talks, isn’t it?
Manager: “Call the candidate back and tell him the other offer was pulled!”
Consultant: “I can’t, the client offered him directly.”
Manager: “Then tell him there are rumours of redundancies, last in first out and all that.”
Shocked? Probably not. Infuriated? I would certainly hope so. The recruitment industry sometimes has a reputation for only caring about the short-term gain, the revenue against monthly target. In the current climate that is all the more tempting to some.
However, after 20+ years in the industry, I am more convinced than ever that the vast majority of recruiters are appalled by the caricature of the chancer in the sharp suit over charging and under delivering.
If there are any positives to come out of recent tough economic times, it is that many of the worst type of recruiters have been driven out of the industry. Their lack of meaningful relationship with clients and candidates has caught up with them. There is no gravy train to jump on, no ‘next client’ to move on to. The days when clients were so desperate for staff that they would give any agency or consultant a go are long gone. For those consultants, it’s too late to realize that it really is all about offering knowledge, service, authenticity and hard work. No relationships, few jobs and certainly little if any commission. What more incentive is required?
The fact that the question of ethics and standards in recruitment is still such a hot topic on forums and blogs shows that poor recruiters are not yet extinct. However, it also demonstrates that recruiters feel passionately about their industry, are revolted by sharp practices and are desperate to show that the majority of recruitment people are professional and ethical.
What else can we do? There is increased talk of regulating the industry by license. Is this a good move? The answer is … it depends. We have to be careful that the regulators do not end up wagging the dog. I believe that, as in most walks of life and problems around the world, education is King. By training and educating everyone in the industry to similar high standards and similar high expectations we can set the bar high to start with.
There are many operators out there who have been trained by Chinese whispers, passed on by their manager’s manager’s manager. Is it good training … you’ve guessed it … it depends. What we really need are recognised standards by which to judge how we are doing and how far we have to go. That doesn’t mean rigid, anti entrepreneurial rules. Just recognised levels of process and principals that draw a line in the sand to guide recruiters and focus attention, inside and outside the industry, on the side of the line that the overwhelming majority of recruiters already stand.