The world of agency recruitment is a strange one. Recruiting employees on behalf of a company is an exciting process to be part of, but in this intermediary position, you often get exposed to the dirty little secrets companies strive to conceal.
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There are many unethical practices still embedded in recruiting and hiring today, and I'd like to shed some light on some of the main issues below:
1. Ageism, Sexism, and Racism
You name it, recruiters have come across it. It's disappointing to see a lot of companies and managers still holding these prejudices. Examples range from managers conducting their own "background checks" – i.e., using Facebook to ascertain the age of a potential employee – to resumes suddenly being rejected because a candidate's name "sounds foreign." Often, recruiters are told posts such as receptionists or admin. assistants would be "better suited" to female applicants, "so don't bother sending any men." Conversely, a recruiter may be told that director of finance "should really be a man's job."
Let me be clear: Agencies should always take a brief from their clients to clarify their recruitment needs. However, ageism, sexism, and racism have no place in the screening process. Recruitment consultants shouldn't have to choose between perpetuating a company's biases or refusing such requests and losing business as a result. This is 2017, and these discriminatory practices need to stop.
2. Poor Treatment of Temporary Workers
I specialized in the supply of temporary workers. The disparity between the ways they and the permanent staff were treated in some workplaces was astonishing. I saw temporary workers humiliated as "examples" to the other staff, consistently ignored by management, and ostracized completely from team dynamics.
Conversely, there were organizations who welcomed temporary workers whole-heartedly into their workforces, giving them tours, explaining company histories, and making a point to include them in all normal routines like team meetings and nights out.
These employees may be "temporary," but their impressions of your company can give others – recruiters, friends, family members, and network contacts – more permanent, negative perceptions that damage your company's reputation.
Is it too much to ask that companies treat all staff equally and with a little care, temporary or not?
3. Lack of Professionalism
There can be problems when you recruit new staff members, but professionalism should be maintained at all times. It is not appropriate for managers to complain to recruiters or other internal employees that a new hire is "fat," "lazy," or "useless."
Recruiters have the pleasure of supplying staff to some incredible managers who are completely focused on the development and support of their employees, especially the new ones. However, other managers are happy to write off new hires within weeks – and they don't always do so gracefully. In my opinion, good managers recognize that some people need time or support to fully blossom. During that growth period, it's best to keep upsetting comments to yourself.
4. Some People Just Don't Want to Work
It turns out many candidates aren't all that motivated to find jobs – even some of the highly skilled and unemployed ones. Everyone has career criteria that should be taken into account, and recruiters should never force people into roles or conditions that will make them unhappy. Occasionally, though, you do run across people who can't be enticed by even the most attractive job offer in the world. Some people simply don't want to work.
5. Recruiters Are Not Obliged to Represent You
It's true that job seekers want new jobs and recruiters want to fill jobs. In this way, their interests are aligned. However, you shouldn't take this to mean a recruiter is obligated to find you work. Recruiters are not job centers, and being rude, arrogant, or pushy with them will not make them likely to promote you as a candidate. In fact, it does the opposite. I've witnessed job seekers speak down to, shout at, and harass recruiters. Not only is such conduct far from unprofessional, but also it's actively harmful to your job search.
6. I Actually Haven't Met Any 'Cowboys'
I hope you weren't expecting this to be a juicy, "ex-agency recruiter bashes the industry" post. The truth is I have never worked alongside one of the so-called "cowboy recruiters." I don't deny they exist, but I do believe their existence is exaggerated due to negative promotion of the industry on LinkedIn and a general lack of understanding regarding how recruitment agencies work.
The recruiters I've worked with have always had strong morals, principles, and ethical stances. Most recruiters genuinely care about getting someone a brilliant role or providing a company with valuable staff. Many people represent the industry as much more sinister than it really is.
I hope this article has highlighted some of the prevalent issues in recruitment today. By drawing attention to these dirty little secrets, I hope to ensure we all – candidate, employer, and recruiter alike – remain ethical, professional, and vigilant. That's the only way everyone will receive the standard of recruitment they deserve.
Lauren Lindsay is a recruiter, blogger, and millennial with a marketing degree from the triple-accredited Strathclyde Business School. Follow her on LinkedIn.