Recruitment – maybe it deserves a bad name.

The recruitment industry gets a bad rap and whilst a lot of it is unjustified, the saying that there is no smoke without fire has some truth here.  I am proud of being a recruiter and truly believe the job I do is important and worthwhile to both individuals and companies. So I get very annoyed with those people who let our industry down with their poor service or  dodgy behaviour.
The reality is that the entry barrier into recruitment is almost zero. You don’t need a qualification, any experience, investment or a licence to becomes a recruiter and start trading immediately. It is common practice for agencies to hire someone with no experience and give them a go, often with little training. The opportunity  to generate big fees quickly is a big draw card for people setting up their own agencies, regardless of how long they have been in the industry or whether they are any good. It is no wonder then that you get new recruiters and recruitment companies entering the market every day. Some will be very good and develop long careers and good businesses that add value to the industry. Some will quickly leave the industry but not before making some bad mistakes . Some will manage to float around the industry for years on end, never being very good and leaving a catalogue of dissatisfied candidates and clients along the way.
The ability  to  enter the industry easily and make quick money will always attract and retain an element of unsuitable, even cowboy recruiters that give us all a bad name. As an industry  are we doing enough to identify and prevent this element of our industry existing ?
In Australia, as in most other countries, the industry has a governing body; the RCSA . The RCSA does a lot of good work but is essentially an internally focused body which is there to support and develop the interests of the recruitment industry and it’s members. It does have a code of conduct by which it’s members are expected to adhere to and a Professional Practice Council and Ethics Committee who oversee Dispute & Disciplinary Procedures. Any individual, including candidates and companies who use their member’s services can complain to the RCSA if they feel they have been wronged in some way.
However you do not have to be part of the RCSA to provide recruitment services and if you are not then this code of conduct is irrelevant. Sure, job seekers and companies can access a list of members on the RCSA website and in doing so hope to choose a reputable organisation that is bound to an industry standard. However, how many job seekers or people who are not actively involved in recruitment are even aware of the RCSA or that there is even an industry body? Would an Engineer seeking a new job, or a small business owner looking for help with recruitment know to look for an RCSA approved recruiter? If they have received a bad service would they know that there is somewhere they can complain to?
As a comparison consider Accountancy,  Law or even Real Estate as similar service driven industries. You would never get you tax return done by a bloke who wasn’t a qualified accountant, or buy a house using someone who up until last week had been selling used cars. You normally need to be qualified and / or have a licence to practice in these areas  – it is not optional. You also have to undertake ongoing training and /or exams to remain operating in the industry. Furthermore you will be probably be regularly audited to ensure you are upholding the standards and punished, even expelled if you are not. Even with these regulations bad Accountants, Lawyers and Real Estate Agents slip through the net – but if you are unfortunate to use one then there is an expectation that there is somewhere you can go to  complain.  Why is recruitment not the same ?
Recruitment will never be a perfect industry, partly because there is no legal right to stop people setting themselves up as a recruiter. But for the good of the industries reputation, we need to make a clear distinction between the good, experienced, professional and ethical recruiters  and  those that simply want to make a quick buck and don’t care how they do it. We can do this by firstly being stricter in controlling and regulating the criteria and standards that recognise someone as an industry approved recruiter, and secondly being more vocal about it to the outside world. If we can do that then we will all benefit – the good recruiters anyway !
Luke Collard

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