Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Recruitment Ethics

When I mentioned to one of my neighbors that I was going to be a panel participant on “Ethical Perspectives on the News” on KCRG TV discussing “Recruitment Ethics”, his comment while laughing was “Isn’t that an oxymoron?”

That is a sad commentary on the recruitment industry. However when you are dealing with people on all sides of the process, it is inevitable that you will run across some people who may not be totally honest in their dealings with others – especially when money is involved.

This conversation discusses how we treat our professional relationships with our peers, clients and candidates; and where ethics may be ignored.

When I was a contingent recruiter, beginning in 1981, one of my first lessons was to protect my client’s name until the last moment. It was interesting how many other recruiters would not honor that relationship even while attempting to do a split with me. If their candidate was the one selected, it was amazing how many recruiters would use that “placement” to go behind my back to try to get future business away from me. I can hear the chorus of “survival of the fittest” as I type. This is the main reason that I worked with a select few peers. We honored each other’s relationships. Interestingly every one of them is still in the recruitment business. Many of the others who were not ethical failed in our industry.

As a professional recruiter, we have a responsibility to ourselves to be ethical. If you are not ethical, your reputation will be tarnished. Your reputation and integrity are the most important attributes of a professional recruiter. A tarnished reputation costs you respect, and ultimately business. So are you in the recruitment industry for the short term cash or the long term profession?

Recruiting is Sales. As a sales process, it will always attract the charlatans who are looking for a way to get rich quick. Unfortunately enough people are successful enough to do it for a while that they attract others with the same motivation before washing out of the business.

What are the other areas where professional recruiters may have a little difficulty with ethics? How about in dealing with candidates and clients? Is the sale so important that you leave out an important qualification or lack of a benefit in order to get the interview or acceptance? If you do the reference checks, do you report everything, even if it may reflect a critical flaw?

How many recruiters recruit out of the same company where they are introducing candidates to gain a fee? I find out about that more often than they think. Sometimes they even try to recruit the same person they introduced to that company. Whose interests are they watching for? Certainly not the company that paid the fee to them. Probably not the candidate because they will have just one more job on their resume. It appears that they are only looking out for themselves.

The bottom line is to ask yourself, “Am I looking for quick financial gain or a long term professional career?” If the answer is your quick financial gain, you are missing out on the long term financial gain, and importantly, the satisfaction of making positive, measurable impacts in peoples’ lives and in your clients’ growth.