Stop Bullying Your Candidates


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15th October 2018

Let’s face it, the recruitment industry has a somewhat tainted reputation, and for an industry aimed at helping others that’s always surprised me. But what is entirely unsurprising is this problem’s very simple and very obvious cause: bad recruiters.

“No. Your CV will not be sent to twenty-four different places, especially without your permission.”

If these words aren’t reflex by now, they are entirely routine. When it comes to the recruitment process this is one concern far too candidates have, and it is not an unfounded fear.

Prepare for a gross generalisation. Recruitment companies, particularly those on the larger end of the scale, you know, the big names – without naming names, have KPIs. These KPIs being the target number of CVs each recruiter has to ship out to clients, regardless of whether it is best for the candidate. It is quantity over quality. At its best the practice is simply embarrassing for the candidate, and at its worst the candidate could have just been rushed into a job neither they nor the recruiter are fully sure they were suited to.

Clearly these targets are focused at helping the client at the expense of the candidate, but that isn’t to say these targets are useful to clients either. What use is it paying a recruiter good money to sift through the myriad of potential candidates out there, only for them to inundate you with CVs? Where on earth is the value-add there?

To play devil’s advocate here for just one moment, it is apparent that most of the recruiters required to fulfil these KPIs aren’t doing it solely out of self-interest. Many recruiters find themselves pressured by the higher-ups who set these targets, often unrealistically. But we all have areas where we could improve, and to all recruiters, if a client wants just six candidates, send them just six CVs - but make sure they are the right CVs. Don’t hedge your bets. Prepare a few back-ups should the client ask but do what the client pays you to do. And if a client calls you back saying you’ve made their hiring process difficult, it should absolutely be because they’re having a difficult time choosing between the great quality candidates you’ve just sent their way.

These KPIs quite simply don’t work for anyone, except for the recruitment companies who use it as an in-house means of tracking employee output. Whilst there may be plenty of debate left to be had over whether these tactics are actually productive or not, I can’t speak for every company, I do know that they aren’t the only example of poor practice in the industry. Browbeating the candidate, asking invasive or personal questions, failing to return a candidate’s calls, the list goes on. Good recruiters like you and I both know and understand how important simple etiquette is, but there are some who don’t, who routinely engage in lying.

Lying takes on a variety of forms in this industry, and not all of it is bad. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’ve never fibbed my way past a particularly astute secretary. Lying in this and all industries can be a necessity. What matters is whether it’s too much, or too often, or even whether if it’s damaging. Lying to a candidate, telling them they need to adjust their salary expectations, so they feel pressured into taking whatever job comes their way isn’t the way to go about business. Ignoring a litany of ethical questions, lying isn’t even self-serving – you’re lowering your own commission. More than that, what if the candidate realises they’ve been forced into a job they don’t particularly want and leave in six-months? In their eagerness to get the job done, bad recruiters simply do the job badly.

To all candidates then, don’t let your recruiter bully you. Don’t ask but tell them explicitly you don’t want your CV shipped around, and if they refuse or treat you without the professionalism you would expect then take your business elsewhere.

And to all recruiters: stop bullying your candidates. If your practices improve so too will your own reputation, not to mention that of the industry’s, and that way we all stand to benefit.