Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Archive for January 2009

RCSA: no sign of excellence

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Even It Up! is shaking our collective heads and rolling our collective eyes at the efforts the RCSA is going to to pitch the recruitment industry as honest and ethical.  The Recrutiment and Consulting Service Association (RCSA) has been taking out advertorials in CareerOne liftouts to try and promote the “integrity” of the brand.  It seems like it’s a new communication initiative, and each week they advertorialise about a different topic.  This week (which is why we are blogging because it got us really angry), they chose to discuss how:

Recruitment agencies that have gone through the certification process have thoroughly reviewed operational aspects of their business, such as documentation procedures and mechanisms for feedback… This RCSA initiative sets the benchmark in effectively managing internal systems and in delivering excellent service to clients and candidates, who now have a means of identifying those agencies (there is that word again!) that have gone the extra mile in enhancing their systems through the Service Delivery Standard certification.

Oh, really?

So how does the RCSA explain that most of the recruitment companies that treat candidates with such disrespect (and are named on the Even It Up! website as such) are listed in its member directory? Let’s see, we’ve got Aquent, Hudson, Icon, Locher, McArthur, QPL, Select, Talent International, Westaff… the list goes on!

The question is: do recruitment companies really think jobseekers are that stupid?  You don’t need a Masters degree to work out that something’s wrong with this picture!

At Even It Up!, we believe that the industry knows it’s got a problem, and this is their way of trying to fix it.  You will see more advertising and editorials.  You will see more badging and logos.  But what you won’t see is a genuine effort to really make a difference to the experience of jobseekers.  Not one recruitment company (and we have had them sign up to access The Lowdown) has contacted Even It Up! to see what can be done.

So here’s the challenge RCSA and RCSA Members: if you are serious – really serious! – about improving standards and actually being “excellent”, how about you contact Even It Up! to discuss what’s appearing on our website? And then set some strategies, and then set KPIs/KRAs and then report against them – publicly.  

We would love nothing more than to tell the world that this is being done, so how about it?


Written by evenitup

January 24, 2009 at 8:23 am

10 things we hate about recruitment companies

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Even It Up! acknowledges that, like it or not, recruitment companies are  firmly entrenched as part of the hiring landscape now.  However,  all the evidence seems to point to the fact that they notoriously over-promise and under-deliver.  Bit like casinos really.

So, given that many jobseekers are forced into using them (and we place the blame firmly with business who outsource when they really should be managing their recruitment inhouse as a crucial brand issue) we’ve put together a list of what to expect when you deal with them, and why we don’t like dealing with them at all!

1.  General position calls

If you see an ad anywhere (the paper, Seek, job boards etc) calling for an expression of interest (or similar) rather than a specific position   approach with care.  Only very rarely does this actually eventuate into an interview, let alone work.   Our understanding is that this is purely a marketing ploy that can be used to sell their “extensive database of candidates” to clients/potential clients.

2. Baiting

If you do manage to get some face time with a consultant, beware of the phrase “We had a position come in yesterday that would have been right up your alley” or “I’ve got a position that has just come across my desk that you would have been suitable for”.   Then you hear nothing, or the position has been withdrawn, or it’s gone to a redeployee (or any other excuse).  These are psychological techniques designed to get your hopes up and keep you hanging.

3.  Pigeon-holing

If you apply for one sort of position with a recruitment company e.g. as a temp, you will be a temp forever.  Even if juicy contracting positions come up, you will not be considered.  Once you have had your Word/Excel/Acess/FrontPage ability tested and your data entry speed recorded, you will be forever pigeonholed.  If you do, for whatever reason, have to register with an agency for a position, give them information that relates only to that position.  Less is more.  Oh, and one more thing: just because your have qualifications does not mean you won’t be pigeonholed.

4. Silence

Similar to piegonholing is silence or avoidance.  Basically, this occurs if they think you’ve done something “wrong” in the eyes of the agency, for example not taking a job that you were clearly unsuitable for, withdrawing your application for a position, not winning a contract position, or calling in sick on your first day of temping.  Guaranteed you will be placed on the black list.  This means that no matter what you do, calls or emails about jobs or contracts will not be returned.  It’s like you are in labour market limbo.  You can always wait for the consultant to move on and try again in six months or a year, but sometimes they are in these jobs for years, so the likelihood of this happening is quite slim.

5.  References

Agencies do check references, but our advice is don’t give them your “best” ones.  Our rationale is that you should  save your “best” references for real jobs.  Don’t get sucked into handing over the names and details of references until you really have to.  It’s a waste of good references otherwise.

6.  They are not your “agent”

Despite many recruitment personnel calling themselves agents (and we have referred to them that way in this blog for convenience), this is not the case and is misleading.  An “agent” implies they are working for you.  This is not the case:  they are working for their client – the employer – because that’s where the money is.  Get the whole agent thing out of your mind.  Only rarely will a consultant (which is also a misleading term) actually work with you.  If you find one, please let Even It Up! know because this is a rare breed.

7.  Beware of people not carrying pencils

If you do get called into an interview, beware of people not carrying pens or paper.  If no notes are being taken, or questions not being asked, it’s a sham.

8.  Amateur hour

Most recruitment consulants have little or no experience in the industry or field in which you are applying.  It is our experience that most are glorified sales personnel on a power kick.  Unfortunately, these people operate in a high stakes environment i.e. your life.

9.  Once is never, twice is always

If a recruitment company treats you badly once, it’s never.  However, if they treat you badly twice, it’s always, and you need to jettison them.  It’s not like they are doing (or will do) anything for you anyway. We recommend that you let them know with the following email (or similar):

Dear “consultant”

I would like to advise that you are unsuccessful in winning me as a candidate.  While I am skilled, qualified and experienced, and would be an asset to any employer, you will not have the pleasure – or remuneration – of representing me.

Unfortunately, you didn’t treat me particularly well,  even though I gave you a couple of chances.  I have therefore decided that I do not want to deal with you as there are other companies out there who will treat me with respect.

Please delete my CV and details from your database.

10. Gatekeeper status

Even It Up! wants to know who died and made recruitment companies the gatekeepers?  Why do they have this status, and why do they retain it?  Every one (jobseekers and employers alike) hates dealing with them, so why are they still around? Why do they hold all the cards?  If a fast food chain was this bad at customer service and product delivery, they would be out of business in a flash!

If anyone has some other pearls of wisdom they would like to share,  Even It Up! would love to hear from you.

Written by evenitup

January 21, 2009 at 5:35 pm

What employers forget: the candidate is the new consumer

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Word Of Mouth, Buy And Tell (or WOMBAT as Even It Up! likes to fondly call it!)  is a very powerful mechanism for getting people to buy or use your product or service.

It works like this:

Jane (or Joe – gender is interchangeable) goes into a business to buy a product or service.  The overall experience is so fabulous that she tells all their friends, family and work colleagues.  All up, these people number in their hundreds.  Jane has a blog and a website, and talks about her wonderful experience as a consumer with this particular business, and the exposure is instant and global.  Jane’s personal experience means that the people she referred to this business have a credible, valid and reliable recommendation from someone they trust.  The reach is unlimited, and all without spending a cent on advertising or marketing.  

So what would happen if Jane had an awful experience?  Exactly the same, but if this business is spending big on advertising or marketing, then it’s all for nothing.  The point is, many businesses forget that the consumer still is king, and for whatever the reason, choose to treat them quite shabbily.

So what has all this got to do with employers and jobseekers?  Even It Up! thinks everything.

Firstly, a jobseeker that has a shabby recruitment experience WILL tell others (check out how many employers are now on the Even It Up! website and it’s only being up and running for a month).

Secondly, a jobseeker that has a shabby experience will often not deal with that organisation again, and they WILL tell others not to.

Thirdly, with all the upheaval and financial uncertainty in the world at the moment, it would make good businesses sense not to alienate consumers.  Businesses need all the dollars they can get, and if a jobseeker has a shabby experience, guess where he or she won’t be spending?

If you guessed your business, you’d be right.  The question is: can you really afford to treat jobseekers disrespectfully?

Written by evenitup

January 15, 2009 at 7:53 am

Mary Poppins had it right!

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Even It Up! thinks this scene from Mary Poppins is priceless, especially the bit about references and a trial period:

Mary Poppins: You are the father of Jane and Michael Banks, are you not? I said, you are the father of Jane  and Michael Banks.

Mr. Banks: Well, well ye– yes, of course, I mean. Uh– you brought your references, I presume. May I see  them?

Mary Poppins: Oh, I make it a point never to give references. A very old-fashioned idea to my mind.

Mr. Banks: Is that so? We’ll have to see about that then, won’t we?

Mary Poppins: Now then, the qualifications. “Item one: a cheery disposition.” I am never cross. “Item two: rosy cheeks.” Obviously. “Item three: play games, all sorts.” Well, I’m sure the children will find my
games extremely diverting.

Mr. Banks: May I? Eh, this paper? Where did you get it from? I thought I tore it up.

Mary Poppins: Excuse me. “Item four: you must be kind.” I am kind, but extremely firm. Have you lost

Mr. Banks: Ah! Yeah. That paper, you see. I thought that I–

Mary Poppins: You are George Banks, are you not?

Mr. Banks: What?

Mary Poppins: And you did advertise for a nanny, did you not?

Mr. Banks: George Banks.

Mary Poppins: Very well then.

Mr. Banks: I tore it up, turned it over. Tore it up again and threw it in there. Yes.

Mary Poppins: I beg your pardon. Are you ill?

Mr. Banks: I hope not.

Mary Poppins:
Now, about my wages. The reference here is very obscure.

Mr. Banks: Very obscure.

Mary Poppins: We must be very clear on that point, mustn’t we?

Mr. Banks: Yes, we must indeed.

Mary Poppins: I shall require every second Tuesday off.

Mr Banks: Every Tuesday

Mary Poppins: On second thoughts, I believe a trial period would be wise.  Hmm.  I’ll give you one week. I’ll know by then.  I’ll see the children now.  Thank you.

Written by evenitup

January 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Don’t rely on your qualifications

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A friend of Even It Up! was discussing his workplace, a South Australian government department.  We were comparing horror hiring stories, and the importance of qualifications when considering job applicants.

He recounted this story.  One of his colleagues (not close) has a policy of not hiring anyone with more qualifications than she has.  Apparently, she wants to be the “star” of the show and does not want any of her subordinates to “show her up”.

Even It Up! is appalled at this attitude on so many levels.  

Jobseekers frequently update their qualifications in order to be more attractive to recruiters and to further their careers.   There is an assumption that when candidates present at interview, their qualifications will be viewed favourably.   This is a completely reasonable expectation, and is how the “wheels of recruiting” should turn.

Even It Up! has found, however, that higher degrees are not often well received outside education or very specific industries.   In fact anecdotal evidence suggests that the higher up the corporate ladder one goes, the more “credentials envy” is encountered.    The feeling is (when one applies for jobs with Masters or PhD qualifications):  “This person is confident, smart, educated.  How on earth are we going to manage him or her?”.    Ask Kate expands on this idea in her CareerOne column here.

Getting back to our original premise, the sad thing is that the government of South Australia markets itself as an innovative, flexible workplace, with career opportunities aplenty.   Check the 2 or 3 page spread in Saturday’s Advertiser, and you can see the trouble they are going to.  Clearly, though, no one has told the person who is doing the hiring.  

And that’s the key to building a strong employer brand: make sure that the internal messages match the external ones.  There needs to be constant and consistent reinforcement of communication from the top.  Great behaviour needs to be rewarded, poor behaviour needs to be managed.  Nothing should be left to chance.

Unfortunately, with employer branding, it often is.

Written by evenitup

January 7, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Where the jobs are

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Even It Up! believes that the best way for jobseekers to empower themselves is to seek work in industries where their skills are in demand, particularly in this period of so-called economic downturn.  

Sarah Needleman, in her Wall Street Journal article,  says:

Employers that provide necessary products and services — hospitals and insurers, for example — tend to always need recruits. And areas employers deem critical to their survival, like accounting and information technology, rarely get cut. What’s more, some fields, such as bankruptcy law and crisis-management consulting, are thriving because of the downturn.

Health care and education are two industries where hiring is fairly steady, no matter the economy, says Brendan Courtney, senior vice president and group executive at Mergis Group, a national staffing firm. “People still keep getting sick, and people still keep going to college,” he says. And in some cases, the demand for candidates outstrips the supply.

In the medical field, there aren’t enough nurses, home-health aides, medical assistants and pharmacy technicians to fill vacancies at health-care providers, such as hospitals and clinics, says Dennis Damp, author of “Healthcare Job Explosion.”

Medical or teaching degrees aren’t necessarily required to get a job in these industries. Like most employers, hospitals and schools need professionals in an array of business areas, including management, finance, communications, information technology and administrative services.

Thanks to Labor Market Information for pointing Even It Up! in this article’s direction.

Written by evenitup

January 7, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

No to Yes Men!

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Bernard Salt made an interesting comment in today’s Sunday Mail which we hope does not come to fruition: that the perceived tightening of the labour market, and concern about job security will force people to become “yes men”.  He said if that happens, innovation and creativity will fly out the organisational window.

At Even It Up! we believe “yes men” – and more specifically, the culture that breeds them – are responsible for most of the world’s woes.  We’ve oversimplified here, but why did someone not speak up about the subprime mortgage fiasco?  Why did the Enron get into the state it did before the proverbial hit the fan?  Why did someone not tell Bush that bombing the crap out of Iraq was not going to solve the problem?  You get the picture…  when the actions of leaders go unquestioned and unchallenged decisions are made that are more about ego than altruism. Ultimately, it’s about power.  Those who don’t have it acquiesce to those who do.   If you are interested in learning more about power and power imbalances, we found an interesting paper on the subject on Jeff Vail’s website

Long live the pot stirrers, we say.  They are actually better for business.

Written by evenitup

January 4, 2009 at 2:22 pm