Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recruiting a need-for-greed mentality in a down turned economy. It's all about the money after all, or is it?

If we, as professional recruiters hope to best assist our clients in achieving a career renaissance, then the recruiters who often place them need to regularly review their own renaissance values. In doing so they need to look beyond their purely personal financial and ego gratification, and instead facilitate a situation that leads to the greater good of the job-seeker’s and hiring company's mutual growth and satisfaction.

As in most sectors of the economy, recruiters are sometimes subject to the need-for-greed in their desire to make a quick dollar (placement) and then run; having little, or no consideration for the potentially, negative impact of their actions on the career and life of the candidate, or the success of the client company. Of course, the majority of recruiters do not fall into this category, but in all honesty we generally got into this field to make a decent living, and not to become saints. Well, maybe not all of us…

Recruiters at quasi-ethical or unethical firms are particularly subject to this practice of greed. Harassed by their manager (who often are intimidated themselves by their owners), junior recruiters are harried to make their numbers add up in greater placements, or else face being fired. They (the junior recruiters) are acculturated into this ends-justify-the-means mindset and in so doing are forced to objectify and dehumanize their clients. Why not? It's all about the money after all, or is it?

As luck would have it, the third firm I worked for was based on the principle of establishing long-term, ethical relationships with their clients. We not only made money, but valued friendships with our clients, too. There were even occasions when we would advise a candidate or a client company to pass on a potential placement if we did not think it was in the best interest of 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 had 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 naturally gravitate 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 as they should.

One, positive aspect about a recession is that it tends to weed out the questionable (unethical) characters in recruiting, and as we have seen, in many other types of business as well. Am I advocating a socialistic approach to recruiting? No. I'm stating that although ethical capitalism may be an oxymoron for many, it isn't to me.

Did I never make a placement, particularly when I first started out in the business, that I was not proud of, or out of (a la Ayn Rand) "enlightened self interest"? -- Of course not. But, those placements often led to short tenures at the client company, an occasional fall off, or even a firing, accompanied by a lost fee; let alone the additional anger, embarrassment, and general negative feelings that often followed.

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 for the entire recruiting business. Some recruiters are already well aware of this paradigm, and their business will generally thrive over the long term. Others on the other hand don't realize the inevitable negative impact of their actions, and often eventually leave the field out of frustration and dissatisfaction, which can cause irreparable damage to the credibility of everyone involved in recruiting as a whole.