Recruitment gets a bad rep and unfortunately, a lot of the time it’s deserved. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we could all come together and lift the whole thing to the point where it’s respected again and seen as something to enjoy rather than an annoying side of the desk job.
I’ve devised a six-point manifesto to restore some credibility to the whole sector and in turn, make life easier for everyone. My dream would be for these six points to be implemented by every recruiter and employer across the land:
1: Replace the question “what is your current salary” with “what salary are you looking for”
It should be illegal to ask a candidate their current salary, period. Their current salary should not influence their worth to you and like it or not, this question DOES lead to low balling. Imagine this all-too-common scenario: if your role has a salary bracket of £50-60k, and your chosen candidate is on £30k, you may be tempted to offer them £40k, because it will represent a nice £10k raise for them and everyone wins right? Wrong. The job is actually worth £50-60k so you would be underpaying by 20 – 30%. If you are paying them 20% less than the role deserves, does that mean you will also reduce the workload and responsibility by 20%?
Of course you won’t, because you are paying what you think you can get away with and not what the role is worth. If you think the candidate can do the role, then pay them what the role commands. The gender / ethnicity pay gap is real, and this approach only keeps it there and widens it.
2: All job adverts MUST have a salary banding, absolutely no exceptions
Employers often cite they don’t want staff to know what their colleagues are on, but salary bandings make things so much more transparent and fairer. An ideal situation would be to use the local and national government approach (no, not wine and cheese meetings) who have grades and pay bandings with very clear levels within each grade laying out what the employee has to achieve to reach each of the levels.
Not having salary bandings means that Tom may get paid more than David simply because he is a better negotiator, or more confident. Hardly fair. I have never heard one reasonable excuse as to why people don’t do this but I’m happy to hear you out if you have a reason. On the flip side of this, salary bandings will also reduce the number of inappropriate applicants applying for a role too; which brings me onto my next point.
3: Recruiters / hiring team must reply to ALL applicants.
Some recruiters or hiring teams have caveats on their job adverts “if you haven’t had a response within 72 hours then you have been unsuccessful”, or “we only respond to successful candidates” but I think that’s unbelievably rude, hugely unprofessional and it’s seriously messing with people’s mental health. Treat applicants as human beings! But if that’s not important to you, consider what it’s doing to your brand, because unhappy people talk about their bad experiences. It’s easy to create an email template to respond individually, and if you’re getting a poor match of applicant, take a look at what you’re putting in the advert, include a salary bracket and see what you can do to hone down and ease your work load.
4: If employers insist on giving the role to multiple agencies (called ‘contingency’ recruitment) then ensure all the agencies only submit applicants on the same day
This will stop the mad rush to claim ‘candidate ownership’ by recruiters who bang over CVs quickly before their competition does.
Picture the scenario; Recruiter 1 will spend time contacting a candidate, explaining the role, the employer’s background, assessing them and ensuring they are keen to apply. Recruiter 2 simply finds some CVs on a website or in their CRM, and submits them immediately. Recruiter 2 will ‘claim’ that candidate because they submitted the CV first, despite Recruiter 1 actually taking an ethical and robust approach. This makes contingency recruitment a far more level playing field as you can guarantee all applicants know why they’ve been submitted and by whom.
5: Make it illegal for recruitment agencies to submit a candidate’s CV without prior written (email) agreement
This links with the point above. My rules would state that the recruiter has to have documented agreement stating the candidate is happy for the recruiter to represent them on that opportunity. This again stops overzealous recruiters marching in, falsely claiming a candidate and potentially wasting everyone’s time, by putting forward people who aren’t available or interested in a role. It also stops the dreadful tactic of “phishing” whereby a recruiter will spam a CV to a database and should anyone come back with a bite (hence the name and approach) the recruiter then contacts the CV owner to say “we have a great opportunity for you”.
6: Three-month 100% rebate should be standard for all recruiters
If a recruiter doesn’t provide a 3-month 100% rebate, they either don’t trust themselves, or the hiring company hasn’t provided enough information in order to trust their own decision making. Recruiters have to take responsibility for their work. They might scream “but the final hire is not our decision, it’s the client’s,” but the recruiter should only put forward the candidates they think match the company’s requirements based on the information they’ve gleaned. I work retained so I provide a 6-month 100% rebate because I’m confident in my bespoke Fitability® approach and the hire is a team effort so I should take some of the responsibility.
To conclude; recruitment used to be a respected management skill, not just a ‘side of the desk’ job that anyone can do alongside their usual role, and external recruiters used to be seen as a trusted aide, a confidant and consultant rather than the CV shifters a lot have now become. Recruitment isn’t hard, but it is very easy to get wrong and we all need to step up to take responsibility to make things better all round.
According to PWC 92% of candidates report having a bad experience while job hunting; the most common complaints are of recruiters and companies who they speak to and never hear from again and of employers that drag out the recruiting process. Saying that, the recruitment sector in the UK has revenues of over £40billion so it’s not going away.
Recruitment isn’t broken, it just needs a few tweaks, so who’s with me?