A lesson in recruitment ethics

By Cullum Jordan

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If I got a pound every time somebody asked me why on earth I would move to the UK from the warm weather on the beautiful Far North Coast of New South Wales in Australia, I would be laughing my way to pub every Friday evening for a cold beer.

When my English wife and I made the decision to move to the UK we took ourselves and our kids away from our lives and sold everything; leaving behind family, friends, the laid back lifestyle, the beautiful beaches, our careers and the 9 years’ experience I gained working in recruitment the Aussie way.

When we arrived in the UK in August 2015, for me, to find work in recruitment within the UK was the obvious choice. Perhaps I was naïve to think I would slide straight into the industry and expect it to be done similar to how it’s done in back home, but I learnt a big lesson in my first week of how ethics are thrown out the window on occasions with some recruitment companies here in the UK.

My first week was a real eye opener and I made a rookie error which caught me by surprise…

A new exclusive requirement landed on my desk, so I got cracking. I received a phone call from someone keen to find out more information on the role. After an initial discussion, I was asked who the role was with and I disclosed details. I then asked this person to email through their CV so I can further qualify their background and suitability and that I would call them back for a more in-depth conversation about the role. All fairly normal, until…

I waited all day, no email, no phone call, nothing. I attempted to call my interested candidate back, but of course it was from a private number. I mentioned this to one of my senior colleagues who advised I’ve just been tricked by another recruitment agency. This particular recruiter obviously didn’t have the ability (or perhaps the inclination) to develop honest, professional, personable working relationships with their clients, so masqueraded as a jobseeker in an attempt to steal the requirement.

This really put a bee under my bonnet, as you might expect. In the years I worked in recruitment in Australia not once did I ever come across this situation. Absolutely, Australia like the UK has a highly competitive recruitment industry, but there are some unwritten rules and lines you just don’t cross.

This is a perfect example of what will give you a bad name as word does travel fast.

A seasoned recruiter once told me to keep your competitors close and find a way to work with them, as one day they may just find respect in you and work with you. This comment remained with me over the years and I formed some great working relationships with competitor organisations through this process by sharing trends and best practices. I even had requirements sent my way from competitors as a result of this to see if I could help, all in the name of quality customer servicing.

From my early days in recruitment where I specialised in assisting people with disabilities to gain meaningful, sustainable employment, it was drilled into me that the only way you are going to succeed in recruitment is on the back of exceptional customer service.

Trust, honesty, integrity and compassion are just a few of the qualities that make a recruiter stand out above the rest when representing yourself and your organisation.

Now going back to old matey here in the UK who did me in by gaining the knowledge of the client I was working with exclusively; how on earth could they expect a hiring manager to respond to an email with a CV advising they have found ‘the one’? That’s just not cricket in my eyes – terrible customer service, champ!

In the time since I joined Head Resourcing, I’ve approached my role with the same values as I did in my time working in Australia and I’m beginning to make real progress. I’ve built up a solid candidate base on the back of just listening, being open, honest to all candidates and clients.

What matters to me are the candidates and clients I deal with on a daily basis, ensuring I provide an exceptional service, irrespective of whether I win business or not.

Aren’t we supposed to be taking away the time, stress and effort from hiring managers in qualifying suitable candidates, ensuring those who are suitable and appropriate are recommended to interview? Some recruiters reading this may be laughing and thinking “good luck, mate”, but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter to me.

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