Recruiters like to talk about `Ethics`. Here I am, talking about them now. But what does it mean? What genuinely is `ethical recruitment`.
There are social recruiting commentators, LinkedIn discussions and my friends The IOR – who seem to converse recruitment ethics in one way – the candidate experience. It basically boils down to how you treat the candidate. The common complaint is “I never hear from the agency” So, attentive recruitment organisations will put in an automatic structure to ensure that all candidates are communicated with… when they aren’t selected.
Hmm, ok – that’s `nice` – but all it is doing is completing the rejection cycle. Doing stuff to please other recruiters, and occasional applicants.. Is that recruitment ethics? Is that really making a difference?
The other key area surrounding recruitment ethics is CV delivery. “Did the agency actually SPEAK to the candidate before sending the CV to the client? NO??!! – Call the ethics police!! – it’s a travesty!!”. OK, I hate the practice of CV sending without discussion with the potential match – but this is internal stuff again – pleasing other recruiters. Is this recruitment ethics? Is it really making a difference to the perception of the recruitment industry?
The overall answer to this, is no. Yes they are degrees of ethics. Yes they are nice administrative processes done well. But do they make a genuine difference to people getting jobs? Has anything genuinely been sacrificed, and set apart from other recruiters do – to make a shift in perception? Will the wave of candidate experience change, just because an agency plugged in an automated “regret to say” response to their application?
Ethics to me, in recruitment, are about putting the individual people involved first, ahead of economics – with crucial actions that make things actually happen for good – when normal business process cannot. 2011 has seen my business, CloudNine, do two such actions.
Case 1 – Ulrike Schultz
Ulrike is a star. She made a name for herself and her job search, when she created the @TheLondonJob twitter handle and embarked on her aim to get her London job from Austria. She was interviewed in The Guardian, and I met her on her visit over here earlier in the summer – and set about looking for work for her. She networked well in her time here, and met many industry people, and secured an internship placement in London for Oct/Nov. In September an opportunity arose for a German speaking Account Exec with a client, and I spoke with Ulrike and instantly put her forward. She was a front runner from point one and we organised an interview for her. However when the MD of the client stepped in to explain he had met Ulrike at an event, and therefore couldn’t justify paying a fee for someone he was connected to – it created a stumbling block. Now, the typical recruiter action is to dig the heels in and fight for a fee, or withdraw the candidate. I knew I had made the introduction, I knew my potential fee was justified – but the client had their own agenda, and a justifiable observation, at least.
This was Ulrike’s dream job – and she was the perfect candidate. So the answer was to communicate with all and find a solution. And we did. I stepped aside and allowed Ulrike to dive in independently and get the job she was due, and I negotiated an arrangement with the client for future such scenarios.
Case 2 – Jules Jackson
A very similar circumstance. Jules is an HR professional with a passion for Social Media. I met her at #TruLondon in September, and the crew there warmed to her a lot, and the #hirejules hashtag was in force!! She came and met JJ and myself not long after, and we loved her spirit, and knew she would make a great hire. In fact we named her an `Honorary CloudNine member`! We immediately put her forward to a Social Media Exec job at a client, and referred her again in October, when they posted a job for a Social Recruiter. To our frustration – this client had made this job one that they weren’t paying a fee for. Hard fast rule, they had options – they wouldn’t be using a recruitment agency.
But hold on, yes they had options – but Jules was the perfect person for this job? It was the ideal job for her? So, I yielded. I took the decision that I had earned many £1000’s from this client over the previous 18 months, and maybe it was my turn to give something back to them, and certainly not interrupt the opportunity of Jules’ dream job. With Jules’ agreement, I handed them her contact details. 2 weeks later, she had been offered the job. A happy client and candidate. Did we get a fee? No – but the action was appreciated on all sides.
Sometimes, the person comes first. That’s ethics. In recruitment we are at the crux of crucial career decisions. We are in it to make money – and these circumstances are exceptional the individual scenarios – but the `Ethics` comes from recognizing where people, and their career, becomes more important than a fee. A human and social business particularly has to recognise this. But even from the harder nose business angle, we also have to recognise the `loss leader` – the time to know when monetary income sacrifice in the short-term, can reap benefits in the longer term.
Many would say this is not always fair. CloudNine is a small business with comparatively minimal turnover compared to the £millions that the 2 clients each turnover each year. But doesn’t matter to Ulrike or Jules, does it?
That’s what recruitment ethics is about. It’s not about administration changes, it’s about making choices that affect individuals favourably, with a sacrifice to our own perfect scenario.
Has anyone experienced similar events in recruitment – I hope there are more out there, that now and again, can exercise genuine ethics