Reining in the recruitment cowboys

MARIA SLADE
Last updated 05:00 14/11/2014
Unlimited editor, Maria Slade.

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If the experience of a family member who recently undertook a job search is anything to go by, the New Zealand recruitment industry is the Wild West.

OPINION: There was the recruiter who mysteriously disappeared mid-process, leaving his colleagues and the client company completely in the dark. The whole selection palaver had to be restarted from scratch. There was the one who called for a meeting in McDonald's of all places, then didn't turn up. Subsequent inquiries with the surprised employer revealed the position in question had been filled some six weeks prior. There were many, many who advertised jobs which didn't exist.

Unlimited recently held a series of forums with business owners on the subject of whether they get value out of recruiters. Most were dismissive of the industry. Many had had poor experiences, both in hiring and from their own days as job seekers. This was particularly true for the technology firms, who almost universally agreed that the recruitment sector did not understand their needs.

Recruiters we spoke to tut-tutted and shook their heads over the preponderance of cowboys in their field - a sector with no barriers to entry and unencumbered by any kind of regulation. As an industry group they appear to be doing precisely nothing about it.

Recruiters would do well to remember that the relationship goes both ways. Some of the people who have been mistreated as potential employees go on to become employers, and they have long memories.

There are quality recruitment companies out there offering a professional consulting service to their clients. But the majority are merely transactional, clipping the ticket as they spray a random selection of job seekers at an employer in the hope that one will stick. This kind of "Black Hole recruiting via keyword searching is perhaps the worst invention mankind ever stumbled on", Forbes reported recently.

Yet apparently these firms make a crust, because there are plenty of them. And for the life of me I cannot understand why employers put up with this paltry service.

It's because Kiwi firms are notoriously bad at workplace planning, Frog Recruitment CEO Jane Kennelly says. Too many businesses simply react when they need a bum on a seat and that allows the clip-the-ticket recruitment model to survive, she asserts.

Building a relationship with a decent recruiter and educating them about your firm's culture and needs requires an investment of time, "and that doesn't come by organisations ringing up and saying, 'I'm looking for someone, who have you got on your books, I've put the job out to four companies'," Kennelly says.

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I maintain the recruitment industry needs to be reined in by some form of regulation. 

We used to have a completely unregulated financial advisory sector, and look how well that turned out.

But equally employers should take some responsibility and start demanding more for their money.

- Stuff

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