Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Posts Tagged ‘Recruitment

It’s about the people, stupid!

with 4 comments

Even It Up! gets quite a bit of criticism from recruiters.  Surely not, we hear our supporters say; how can this be?  The criticism comes from two main areas 1) we aren’t recruiters and 2) we’re too negative.

Before we address these criticisms, how about we get back to basics?  How about we think about the purpose of recruitment: what it’s actually for.   We’ll go to our friend the internet for this, and offer a selection of definitions for your perusal.

Definition #1 (from Business Dictionary) Recruitment is the process of identifying and hiring best-qualified candidate (from within or outside of an organisation) for a job vacancy, in a most timely and cost effective manner.

Definition #2 (from BNet) the activity of employing workers to fill vacancies or enrolling new members. Employment recruitment is composed of several stages: verifying that a vacancy exists; drawing up a job specification; finding candidates; selecting them by interviewing and other means such as conducting a psychometric test; and making a job offer. Effective recruitment is important in achieving high organizational performance and minimizing labor turnover. Employees may be recruited either externally or internally.

Definition #3 (from eHow) Recruitment and selection refers to the chain and sequence of activities pertaining to recruitment and selection of employable candidates and job seekers for an organization. Every enterprise, business, start-up and entrepreneurial firm has some well-defined employment and recruitment policies and hiring procedures. The HR department of large organizations, businesses government offices and multilateral organizations are generally vested with the responsibilities of employee recruitment and selection.

If we collate these definitions, it would be fair to say that recruitment is about the processes and systems that ensure the organisation puts the best possible person into a vacant job position so that the organisation is able to perform at optimum level.

There are three parts to this equation.  Firstly, there have to be the “best possible people” who can be recruited; secondly, there have to be vacant jobs that require filling; and thirdly organisations have optimum processes and systems in place in order to do the recruiting.

From a jobseeker’s point of view there is generally some work required on their part to ensure they are “the best” and can seamlessly integrate with the organisation’s recruitment systems and process.  The onus is usually on the jobseeker to acquire the necessary skills (communication, computer etc.), qualifications (degrees, diplomas, trade certificates etc.) and experience (work, volunteering etc.) to ensure they can meet the organisation’s requirements.   Often the jobseeker will keep “skilling up” to improve their career prospects and keep being “the best”.  The jobseeker, therefore, fulfills their part of the recruitment bargain*.

So, from an organisation’s perspective, it should be a very simple process to ensure that the best possible person wins the vacant position.  If only that were true, because the organisation, in its efforts to minimise risk** puts barriers and obstacles in the jobseeker’s way (and anyone who reads this blog and has visited the Even It Up! website knows very well what these are.  If you are new, here is an example).  The organisation, in effect, is not fulfilling their part of the bargain! And, interestingly, this is projected onto the the jobseeker,  who is then seen to have “failed” in some way.

Now: to get back to address our critics.  We are not recruiters, but we have been a part of the recruitment process.  We have collected the necessary skills, qualifications and experience.  We have jumped through all the hoops you require us to.  And still we come up short.  We are too this, or not enough of that … you get the picture.  And it’s not a case of sour grapes.  We have applied for roles, not won them, and can still speak highly of the organisation involved (sadly, not many!).  Treating jobseekers fairly and respectfully is a wonderful (and strategically clever) way to manage your brand.

And it’s the very fact that we’ve had recruitment “done to us” that entitles Even It Up! to be negative.  And we are not going to change this position in a hurry because recruitment is broken, and it needs to be fixed.  And by that we don’t  mean just getting rid of all those awful recruitment companies who operate on an old school sales model, rather than a knowledge economy talent model.

We need organisations to fulfill their part of the bargain and make it easy to actually hire the best person for the job.  Not the person who will argue the least, or has the WASP surname, or who is the easiest to manage, or is the youngest and therefore most likely to stay, or who the panel chair would like to bonk, or who kisses up to the recruitment consultant.  We expect our organisations to actually be diverse and live up to the promise of employer branding, not simply talk about it using empty rhetoric.

There is a wonderful old saying that can be directly applied to recruitment: you can put as many candles as you like into a pile of crap and it still doesn’t make it a birthday cake.  Our being positive about recruitment won’t make it so.  It’s only by saying that it is broken that we can truly think about how it can be fixed.

* One thing that recruiters hate more than anything else is jobseekers applying for jobs where they don’t have the skills, knowledge or experience, or conversely, too much of it.  It throws the process into chaos!  The internet has highlighted this “deficiency” and many recruiters complain about being swamped by online applications from people who they consider unsuitable.

** Many organisations are risk averse and perceive (and treat) recruitment as a  major risk management operation.


A recruiter sends an email

with 2 comments

Even It Up! had a very interesting (anonymous) email from a recruitment company employee last week:

Hi Even It Up!

I found your site a few weeks ago (can’t remember exactly how) and it’s been interesting reading for me, primarily because I’m a fairly senior recruiter in a well known large global recruitment company. I’ve been working in recruitment since I left Uni in 1997 – not continuously, but for about seven years in total, including nearly four with my current employer.

I currently run a desk placing qualified professionals in contract positions, and I have 35 contractors working for me; prior to that (with my current employer) I was doing permanent recruitment for qualified accountants and accounts processing staff. Since I joined my current employer I’d say I’ve placed about 300 people in permanent or temporary jobs. I mention this to give you an idea of numbers – I’m probably in the top 10% performing consultants with my current employer, for this financial year at least.

I’m contacting you to find out if you’d be interested in me providing a bit of a rundown of what goes on “behind the scenes”, from when a candidate/job-seeker contacts a recruitment firm through to when (hopefully!) we place them in a job.

I’m asking because reading through the experiences of a lot of your job-seeking contributors, I can understand exactly **why** a lot of them are angry, frustrated, or whatever. I’d be the first to admit that there are good and bad recruitment consultants and recruitment firms, exactly the same as there are good and bad doctors, accountants, HR managers, plumbers, mechanics, etc. I’ve certainly worked for one terrible recruitment firm myself – only for a couple of months though, until I realised how bad their practices, attitude and management were!

However, reading through the comments your members have been leaving, there are a few common misconceptions, misunderstandings and sometimes just plain mistakes in people’s thinking, and clarifying those for job-seekers would probably result in a lot less frustration and anger at the process that we as recruiters have to take each of them through, especially when the outcome isn’t the one we all want – placing them in the job they applied for. I’m not saying all recruitment consultants are angels who are victims of these misunderstandings (I’ve fired a few hopeless ones myself) but a lot of the time, it sounds like things just haven’t been explained properly to the job-seeker. I’m confident when I say that 95% of recruiters don’t set out to p*ss people off or mess them around – that would be a waste of everyone’s time, because we don’t generate revenue when people get p*ssed off with us.

However we (recruitment consultants) can sometimes forget that candidates come to us because they want to, or need to, take one of the biggest steps of their life – finding a new job. Our lives are ruled by revenue and activity targets – recruitment is a competitive sales-focussed industry and that’s never going to change, but I think it means sometimes that what for job-seekers is a really important event (eg. an interview with a hiring manager for their dream job) is for us just another step closer to meeting this month’s quota. I’m not saying that’s right, but it’s a fact.

If you’re not interested, that’s fine – that’s why I’m asking you first, rather than spending a few hours planning and writing it all out. If you want me to do it, it would be on condition of 100% anonymity, because if my employer found out, I’d almost certainly get fired. I’m never going to tell you my name or who I work for so if that’s a problem, fair enough. But let me know what you think and I’m sure we’ll work something out.

Thanks, all the best

Mr S. Recruiter.

Even It Up! responded as follows:

Hi Sydney Recruiter

Thanks for your email, which I read with interest.

Our stories come from jobseekers who are applying for work at Executive level, right down to entry level positions. The thing that struck us is how similar their experiences are; the same patterns and themes keep recurring regardless of position or location, which indicates to us that the problem is endemic throughout the recruitment industry… and this includes direct employers.

Jobseeking – particularly in this economic climate – is a high stakes exercise.  So often, what dictates our success or failure is out of our hands.   If you read the following blog entries, you will see why we get so cross about it:


I really appreciate your offer, and would like to hear more (in fact would be fascinated!), however, cannot accept any further information without a “real” email address or name/contact details.  Our jobseekers provide this information to us without hesitation (and on trust)… and we always assume that it’s not ok to print their name (because of the high stakes nature of this site).  We would, of course, accord you with the same respect.  Having said that, some jobseekers have been more than happy to go public, despite the risk to their careers, because they want to see change.  I also put my name to the site, knowing that I may never get work again!

Looking forward to your response.

Unfortunately, Even It Up! has heard nothing further from Sydney Recruiter.    We would love to hear from anyone who works “inside” the industry, but need to have genuine contact details (which we will never reveal unless you OK it).. it just shows us that you are fair dinkum that’s all.

Written by evenitup

April 22, 2009 at 10:19 am

Whatever happened to trust?

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Even It Up! has it on good authority (Sunrise!) that the South Australian Police are now screening their new recruits via lie detector tests!

See Sunrise newsbyte here.

Apparently the rationale is that the Yanks are doing it, so we should too!

Look, we’re all for having trustworthy people in any role, but we think this is taking things too far!  It raises all sorts of ethical issues and questions around power and power imbalances.  If you refuse because you object in principle, is it assumed that you have something to hide?  Or do you just comply because you want the job?  And why is the employee always the bad guy?

And the bigger question is, of course, if  SAPOL can do it, what is stopping other employers going down the same road?  One minute it’s psychometric testing, the next its polygraphs.  Surely there are better ways to ascertain a person’s character and integrity?

Does anyone else have an ominous feeling about this?  We need to start digging our heels in about this stuff! 

By the way, we downloaded their recruitment handbook – nowhere did it mention polygraphs!

Written by evenitup

December 6, 2008 at 3:56 am

Posted in Recruitment

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