The demand for the professionalisation of the recruitment industry seems to be at an all-time high. LinkedIn in particular is regularly filled with complaints about the way individuals have been treated by a recruiter in some part of the globe. There are also complaints from recruiters about the comportment of candidates. Often times many of these complaints are justified. As I have written before, one of the major reasons that such poor quality exists is that the barriers to entry in recruitment are non-existent and miscommunication about their role is rife. The reality is that anyone who can read, write, hustle, has a lap top and a phone can set themselves up as a recruiter.
A recruiter or head hunter is dealing with people, their lives and livelihoods. A poor recruitment decision impacts the profitability of any organisation. The hiring process is an important professional activity, so why do we not pay enough attention to make sure it is done properly?
Professionalisation of the recruitment industry – raising the bar
It was never more clearly highlighted than today when I spoke to a network contact who talked to me about her new job in a recruitment agency. Her experiences signal everything that is inherently wrong with the recruitment industry culture and system. The bottom line is that it needs a serious upgrade. Although a highly qualified, multi-lingual professional herself, she has been tossed onto the market with no training at all. This is the responsibility of the agency director.
The two places to start with the professionalisation of the recruitment industry are here:
Agency owners or managers need to train their staff
Would you ask a barista to work behind the bar without showing them how to pull a pint and them not knowing the differences between beer, wine and gin? Didn’t think so.
To become a recruiter, no certification is necessary even though recruiters are handling information that can be technically complex and requires an understanding of sophisticated organisational structure and behaviour. Without this knowledge most recruiting practitioners will not be able to glean an accurate idea of the role nor properly pitch the organisation and the job on the market. It is really important that recruiters have the necessary information and insight to ask both the client or the candidate for the information needed to make an informed assessment.
All this leads to an unproductive use of time and resources in “spray and pray” practises that sometimes work, but mainly don’t. So for agency owners or managers, the lack of professionalism in recruiting is in your hands. It is your fault. The bar needs to be raised.
Hiring company commitments
Hiring companies frequently state how committed they are to their company talent. For many it is superficial lip service only. They need to commit to professional standards in their hiring processes by stopping contingency recruitment, especially on a first past the post basis. For those not in the know this situation is “no placement, no fee” and multiple companies placed in competition to get the first placement. They are in part responsible for the lack of professionalisation of the recruitment industry by an unwillingness to pay for full professional services.
Greg Savage, business advisor to recruitment agencies, running Recruiter Master Classes internationally, cites this as being a highly dysfunctional business model which is damaging the industry.
Multi-listed, contingent job-orders benefit no-one. Clients, naively thinking they get a better service because they get agencies to compete, actually get a far worse service because they are actively encouraging recruiters to work on speed, instead of quality.
The hiring manager thinks this is efficient way of doing business, but all it means is that they get the first and the fastest, not necessarily the best. The reality is that top talent is turned off by this uninformed, lazy methodology and hiring managers need to understand that. Only recently I was bewilderingly approached by a recruiter for an Account Manager role in a Canadian Insurance company. I know nothing about insurance or Canada, but my name had obviously appeared in a search and all targets had been sent a generic mail. The guy just looked stupid.
The important thing is that both agency recruiters and hiring managers have to understand and as quickly as possible, it’s the hi-po, in demand talent that holds the upper hand. Recruiters will not consistently reach and convert those sought after candidates, unless the business model is changed and upgraded.
- Agencies have to be accredited and meet minimum requirements to become operational.
- The licence holder should be qualified in a related field or have a required number of years experience. There have to be barriers to entry with proven qualifications in the field some sort of qualification achieved after a period of study followed by examination. This is common in many professions such as accounting. Just because someone has worked in corporate H.R. for example, does not mean they can assume the role without any training.
You would be surprised how many people conduct interviews and make selection decisions with even no basic training at all, let alone more sophisticated knowledge around unconscious bias or interview techniques. They may have industry and functional insights, but the specifics of conducting multiple searches simultaneously will be new to many. Sometimes they will have none of the above.
- When they are operational they should be legally mandated to provide minimum training levels for any staff. Candidate sourcing, development and attraction require specific skills. Interviewing and assessment require additional areas of more sophisticated competence. They are not divine gifts but can be learned, so therefore need to be taught by someone who knows what they are doing. Having remote employees working in isolation without supervision is also a recipe for disaster.
- There should be a regulatory body to monitor complaints and performance. Persistent complaints should result in detailed investigation. Penalties should be imposed and if necessary they should not be allowed to operate and their license suspended or revoked.
At the moment we rely on the natural economic justice of the business world to make dodgy companies bankrupt. Transline Group, one of the employment agencies at the centre of the Sports Direct scandal, lost a contract supplying temporary staff to Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer for failing to pay minimum wage. The company may now be headed for administration. Social proofing or old-fashioned word of mouth will also play a part to produce accountability.
But what is needed for improved professionalisation of the recruitment industry is increased regulation. I am not sure how likely to happen that is.
But would you want to put your career into the hands of someone who didn’t know what they were doing? Me neither.
If you are looking for a high level head hunter to market your employer brand to identify and attract top talent – book a call now.