Like in most sectors of the economy recruiters are sometimes subject to greed in their desire to make a quick buck (placement) and run, having little or no consideration for the impact of their actions on the life of the candidate or the success of the client company. Of course, the majority of recruiters do not fall into this category and we generally got into this field to make money and not become saints. Well, maybe not all of us.
Recruiters at quasi-ethical or unethical firms are particularly subject to this habit. Being harassed by their greedy manager, who often is harassed by their greedy owner, to make their numbers or else, junior recruiters are acculturated into the ends justify the means mindset, and in so doing they are forced to objectify and dehumanize their clients. Why not? It’s all about the money anyway. Isn’t it?
Luckily the third firm I worked for was based on establishing long term ethical relationships with their clients, and we made money and friends too. We would even advise a candidate or a client company to pass on a potential placement if we did not think it was in the best interest or the client or the company.
What about letting a bad placement go by when you are struggling in a tough market like today? Well, if recruiters and agencies created good will in good times and managed their money wisely, then they wouldn’t have this problem. This isn’t a question of candidate/client control.” Most candidates and companies will gravitate easily to a mutually satisfying hiring situation. We need to have the self control, intuition. and, maybe a touch of wisdom, to set up the right parameters, offer guidance and skill, and let the good placements happen.
One nice thing about recessions is that it tends to get rid of the questionable characters in recruiting, and, as we have seen, in many other forms of business as well. Am I advocating a socialistic approach to recruiting? No, ethical capitalism, an oxymoron to many, is fine with me.
Did I never make a placement that I was not proud of, or out of (a la Ayn Rand) “enlightened self interest”). Of course not. But those placements, particularly when I first started, often led to short tenures of placements at the client company, or even an occasional fall off, firing, and a lost fee; let alone, the anger, embarassment, and general bad feelings that follow
Despite the advent of technological based recruiting, which many seem to see as a panacea to insuring the continued growth of the recruiting industry, particularly of the contingency variety, if we don’t add considerable value to a placement, beyond being a surface, but shaky, match, then there may be a precarious future to the recruiting business. Some people know this, and generally thrive over the long term; others don’t and often eventually leave out of frustration and dissatisfaction, doing damage to the credibility of recruiting as a whole.