Unethical recruiters tarnishing the industry

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Australia’s recruitment industry must be more tightly regulated to stop ‘cowboy’ recruiters.

That’s according to Shaun McCambridge of Stellar Recruitment, who said unskilled and unethical recruiters were an ongoing issue and tarnishing the reputation of the sector.

“There are no qualifications needed to become a recruiter, often little to no training available and no regulations to manage conduct – anyone with a phone and a computer can call themselves a recruitment business,” Stellar Recruitment managing director Shaun McCambridge said.

He added that it’s time to introduce better regulations, and enforce penalties for poor and unethical conduct. Doing so would raise the standard of professionalism and ultimately reduce the negative impacts on job seekers.

“There are good recruiters who know the market they recruit for well, foster good relationships with their candidates and clients and listen to their needs,” he said. “Bad recruiters on the other hand are money focused, fail to forge and maintain relationships with clients or candidates, don’t understand the industries they work in and often push candidates into unsuitable roles.”

  • rose rixon on 4/02/2013 2:54:13 PM

    Yes I definately agree with him. There are way to many dodgy recruiters out there that are letting people down and when they talk to us we are appauled by the unethical dealings that some are getting away with. we have been in the recruitment business for just on 27 years and you don't do that by not looking after you clients and candidates properly.

  • Ian Fung on 4/02/2013 3:21:08 PM

    Perhaps "we" as recruiters should penalise clients for not giving feedback, going MIA and putting a hiring freeze on. This is sales… if a candidate isn’t suitable for a role, that’s life. Recruitment is a free service for candidates. If we all took the time to contact every candidate to explain why they we aren’t using their CV, we would waste ¾ of the day. At the end of the day, our aim is to send good CVs to good clients.

  • Robert Yacoub on 4/02/2013 3:23:31 PM

    I do strongly agree with Shaun and many of us hoped that these "cowboys" would get out of the profession while times were tough and money was dwindling. Unfortunately many have been able to hide under the radar and skate by doing what they do best and give the rest of our industry a undesirable reputation.

  • Max Underhill on 4/02/2013 3:45:30 PM

    A recent assessment of a 19 person exec/senior team found 17 of the 19 assessments failed to reach the required level i.e. only 2 incumbents were fully competent against the positions they held. This was largely the result of poor recruitment (by two large well known recruitment companies) but there was also some poor maintenance of the HR assets (we are happy to provide this short research paper). The worry is that when we recruit low levels of competence than we should the people under them are also compressed (spring effect).

  • Monica on 4/02/2013 3:49:15 PM

    Am more concerened about the plight of candidates . I personally know somebody who had clarified to the recruiter (one of the big 4 recruiting firms)about no late sittings and low travel which was not communicated to the hiring employer and it also did not come up later during the hiring process the candidate had to quit in 6 months due to lack of work life balance and went through hell. Negligence on the part of recruiters can cost somebody their job.

  • Peter on 4/02/2013 4:05:43 PM

    Recently when I was a candidate (HR) I was oftened promised the world from recruiters only to never hear from them again. Now that I am the Group HR Manager of a rapidly growing business these same recruiters are now touting for my business. Now it is me that is not interested in them!

  • Rebecca Fraser on 4/02/2013 4:33:44 PM

    Extremely supportive of these comments. As a Career Development Practitioner this is the same issue we are facing and the constant talk of regulations and standards between the reputable members does not stop "cowboy" operators opening up and extremely impacting on the credibility of our active members. Negligence in our field not only impacts on an individuals career options however poor behaviour has been linked previously to health issues and I have been contacted about links to suicide by people provided with lack of credible support. It is a challenge that I know the accounting industry also faced and have since implemented the CPA program; from my perspective however I would like to see the Recruitment Industry and Career Development industries working more collaboratively to address this as there are many cross overs in our work.

  • David on 4/02/2013 5:13:35 PM

    Very true, interesting insights above. I do think anyone can be a recruiter these days - the amount of 'Business Support' or 'all rounder' recruitment agencies that call me up out of the blue or who call asking for business every fortnight is incredible. Chances are there's a good recruiter among that mix, but from our point of view the cold/luke-warm call is nothing but junk.

  • Paul on 4/02/2013 5:16:55 PM

    Shaun is dead right however, many of the comments are blaming recruiters for behaviour which should be picked up by the HR professionals - or professional managers in the client organisation. They are the ones who should be making the final decision and communicating with the successful candidate. If HR Managers only dealt with reputable and professional recruiters the others would soon lift their game or disappear.

  • Yvonne Walker on 4/02/2013 6:29:09 PM

    Since I've become a Human Resources consultant - that is, the whole breadth of HR not just recruitment and not just selling people - it seems that, unfortunately, cowboy recruiters also tarnish HR's reputation. This is because many recruitment firms call themselves HR companies. Obviously the cowboys do the most damage to everyone but as an experienced HR professional, I'd like the recruitment industry as a whole to stop claiming to be HR professionals, not just the cowboys...

  • Pearl on 5/02/2013 8:20:16 AM

    Extremely supportive of these comments

  • James on 5/02/2013 10:13:37 AM

    with all due respect to those who say that its only the cowboys, the fly by nighters, the bad ones

    give us a break - even the bigger companies are full of people who conduct themselves in an unethical manner

    every one of them lies, to get you on their books, whether employer or candidate

    several in particular fronm the larger firms have tried this stunt - they call you and send you several candidates that they have even though you havent asked them to, and if you ever employ that person in another capacity thru a different source they then come after you for money

    or worse, they call you and ask you if the work schedule is Ok, and if you hint at tenders or projects they then list those projects on Seek.com and send you the resumes of the replies so that if you ever do list for candidates on your own that they have the project covered and chase you for money of you employ one of "their" candidates

    its a disgraceful industry full of shonky sharks and its rife in all the big firms - ALL of them

  • Greg Evans on 5/02/2013 1:11:25 PM

    Without structural changes, it's caveat emptor in the recruitment market. Think of any industry where you encounter cowboys (or substitute the epithet of your choice), and you'll see low barrier to entry.

    At the risk of telling HR people their jobs (if you're in organisational development or change), this behaviour is simply the balance of consequences arising from the recruitment market structure. Low barriers to entry, short-term incentives outweighing the longer-term returns, and a service that is often not readily understood by clients until a candidate is appointed.


  • David on 6/02/2013 10:17:44 AM

    I agree with Shaun that the industry needs regulation (isn't that the RCSA's role?) however surely the candidate and the Hiring or HR Manager are there one's making final decisions? All too often it is easy to blame the third party when things don't work out and, as a result, some of the good recruiters wear the blame. Also, a good rule of thumb for both candidate and client is if you think a recruiter is trying to influence your decision in any way then they are probably trying to squeeze a square peg in a round hole because of the fee involved. The best recruiters are the ones who know their market, have been in recdruitment for more than 5 years and come across as professional from ther first time you speak to them to the last. As a professional recruiter with over 10 years experience my best advice to candidates and clients is that as soon as a recruiter renegs on one single promise (like to call you back) then dump them. If they cannot simply even return a phone call to you then you are not important to them, someone else with larger fees attached are. That is always the first sign of a sloppy recruiter more motivated by money than reputation.

  • ChrisS on 6/02/2013 11:26:46 PM

    Easy to pick on recruiters: in what other walk of life is the expectation that you provide a quality, professional service to candidates and clients for free? Unless you eventually make a fee (inevitably squeezed and begrudged) or are retained then you have to put up with very poor behaviour and attitudes from SOME candidates and clients and get nothing in return at all. Incidentally it is often employers that are the worst offenders for not treating candidates professionally, failing to acknowledge applications, lack of interview follow up etc. I think HR/Procurement/Talent people in employers have a lot to answer for, reaping what they sow and should get their own house in order before criticising agencies.

  • Shaun McCambridge on 7/02/2013 9:30:48 AM

    Guys, some great points above, thanks for getting involved. I agree with the comment above regarding needing more barriers to entry to ensure that people who enter the industry have a long term focus and commitment to our profession. This combined with maybe an entry level “Cert IV” in recruitment practices and a higher level “CPA” type qualification would be great in my opinion. This combined with an independent body with jurisdiction to police poor conduct whether this be the RCSA or another body would all be welcomed developments in my eyes .

  • July on 7/02/2013 7:36:36 PM

    I was in Employment Services, who was bullied by the Non Profit Organisation to just get the numbers on the board, it didn't matter what the Job Seeker wanted, just had to shove them into jobs and collect the fee !!!! Funded by the Australian Government to get Job Seekers into employment....it is not easy when you stand up for yourself....you get made redundant because they restructure the company so that you are no longer required. Shame

  • Scott Linden Jones on 7/02/2013 10:02:34 PM

    Same problem the IT industry has had forever. It requires the quality providers to educate the market on what makes a quality recruiter. It is, of course, also a huge opportunity to differentiate.

    The biggest thing I find most commonly missing is accurate capability testing. Recruiters review apparent experience, but very few are prepared to do any practical testing and put their balls on the line and say we have tested this person and they have the skills you need. It's not always possible of course, but in many cases it would be with a high level of commitment and collaboration with the client/industries to establish testing regimes.

    As a recruiter, are you a seat-filler or are you an expert at finding experts?
    www.easyoffshore.com.au

  • Jammy on 8/02/2013 3:48:18 PM

    Did any one can answer me? why they are unethical? the problem with recruiters are the management? If you are doing the recruitment business you should educate recruiters to be ethical you should train up them.But now a days recruitment business people they never train recruiter to be a professional. There is the problem raises to be un ethical..

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