There is a line…

…where friendly competition becomes unprofessional

As a recruiter I see and dismiss many of the stories on LinkedIn about bad recruiters, I say dismiss in loose terms as whilst I read them I recognise this is not an experience of the whole industry just a bad recruiter, I do however take interest in bad experiences as without reading through these how can we improve and learn what not to do?

It only takes one individual out of a hundred to give somebody that bad experience, and this is the problem. In our industry; it seems we only get one chance, not as an individual but as an industry. It is something I have never experienced or seen in another industry. For example, you go into a phone shop and have a poor experience (let’s be honest – who hasn’t!) does this mean you immediately view the whole industry as poor or do you recognise it was one experience? Do you stop going into those shops completely?

I understand that our industry has a negative reputation in general but this has started to change with the volume of boutique agencies and better consultants out there concentrating on consultation as well as the day to day recruitment solutions we provide. Fees are important but so are people, we are here to make sure both people, skills and companies match. Working closely with all parties to make sure everything lines up. Consultants come back to me and say, what about my KPI’s, in truth I would rather when a line manager asks you what the business does – you know or have an interest; otherwise, where is the value and what set’s you apart?

I go through this as I had an experience yesterday which was new to me after seven years in recruitment. I received an e-mail from a client who I have been working with for the past four weeks on an incredibly tough role. I met the business with my director and took several cleared CV’s down to the meeting – all of whom knew the business name and the role. Over the last four weeks we have worked on the specification and found strong individuals meeting the client’s needs and wants who m we have represented; we did so last week post clearing the roles with them and interviewing them as much was based on our network and referrals. A week later I receive an e-mail stating that they are seeing one candidate through another agency and one of those we took with us on the day of our meeting was also being claimed by said agency. This is an international player who had the role for six weeks exclusively before we came on board…Not only had they duplicated the CV’s but they had called the candidates and indicated they would only represent them if they sent them an e-mail stating they hadn’t ever seen the specification from us (we had been asked not to send it to candidates till interview). Said agency also stated we had no relationship and no authority to work on the role. This information was all confirmed by the candidates who have gone on record to say this as fortunately, we have other options lined up for them. Whilst the candidate should have discussed everything with us he was given a story and believed it due to past experience with recruiters (my comments in the introduction ask why judge us all by one experience), the other individual, they have already started a new role so we were extremely confused why they were being mentioned.

For me, these tactics indicate desperation led by poor management and poor KPI management. This is the type of experience from both a candidate and client’s perspective which gives our industry a bad reputation and not the first time said agency has done this with clients.

As a business; we look to work with all parties, making sure everything is completed correctly. If it is not then we have failed and our service must improve. There will on occasion be duplication, in a candidate driven market with the volume of vacancies out there, it will occur. However, it is unfair for candidates to miss out on roles when the above occurs – as they have done so now. In this example; the issue is that the company had the role exclusively with an agency who have not performed and once they realised that they have represented the wrong individuals and somebody else has sent the correct candidates; they have used unprofessional tactics. They have also forgotten the most important thing is the client finds the right individual.

All I ask for is a bit of respect from competitors, candidates and clients. We work exceptionally hard; and yes, we do reap the award at times, however with roles with such importance to  business success is based on years of hard work and knowing our sector and specialism. We take pride in our work and when I read stories like the listed-on LinkedIn I take it personally as we should all know better. We are competing and friendly ‘banter’ and competition is required for us all to push each other and hopefully become better at our job, recruitment is one of those industries where everyone knows everyone so it can be enjoyable when going up against ex colleagues and friends, but going as far as this business had to the detriment of all parties is too much and I do feel for consultant because I expect this was led from above. We can all be better, we can all improve and we should all learn from both our own and other mistakes. I know I have made mistakes and I am sure I will still make more but I will continue to learn and grow and pass on these experiences to my team and colleagues. I know I have left businesses due to practices like this, this has been to my detriment at times but I have a strong moral compass and won’t bend this just to make a fee – and I expect everyone in my team to behave in this manner as well.