Why Some Recruitment Agencies Tarnish the Industry

So I’m not normally one for School-night drinking but as we were experiencing our ‘day of summer’ yesterday I couldn’t help but race out to try and enjoy some well-needed vitamin D. My friends had already chosen where we’d meet and for the purposes of this blog I won’t name the particular spot. I arrived last and was met with a sea of other professionals who’d had the same idea of catching the few hours of summer Manchester is graced with every year.

Within seconds it was obvious the majority of the patrons were recruitment consultants. The type you can spot a mile away. Slick hair and cheap suits worn with matching tie and Pocket Square with an air of arrogance that much like the cheap aftershave worn by such a person is almost palpable. The kind of consultants who smear the name of an industry I’m proud to be part of.

Much to my dismay I immediately spotted my friends sat amongst them. I can’t lie they weren’t hard to find. it looked a bit like the camera crew had walked on set while filming an episode of the apprentice!

As I sat down I immediately regretted coming out, I could barely hear conversation over the squabble behind me discussing their ‘day in rec’. Now I’m no stranger to hearing people moan about their jobs and have become accustomed to the various gripes of the working day but this particular conversation astounded me.

I listened for a while as one ‘consultant’ (and I use that word very reluctantly) was describing in very descriptive and colourful language how his candidate (who’s name he didn’t have the decency to refer to her by, instead choosing to use other more ‘descriptive’ adjectives) had interviewed earlier that day to receive excellent feedback from his client, but had chosen not to proceed. The swarms around him were astounded and couldn’t believe why she’d chosen not to accept a second interview. The Gordon Gekko esc ‘consultant’ then reeled of almost parrot like, reasons why this job was better than her current. Salary, title, brand recognition were all listed like items on a shopping list. This list was repeated and discussed for some time to a point where I was almost appreciating the boy’s passion.

It was only some ten minutes later that he made the comment in an almost casual fashion “just because she’d to start an hour earlier and her husband would have to drop the kids at school”. Now I should point out that this wasn’t surprising to me. I was far from shocked that a naïve and armature recruiter hadn’t appreciated that something like dropping a child at school in the morning and spending that time together meant more than any additional holiday days, free training or increase in salary ever would. What shocked me was the response from his colleagues. Not one of them felt this his anger was either misplaced or un-justified.

At this point I felt the need to turn around and get a better look at his audience and was shocked to see a few more members of his team had joined them and were clearly the more senior figures from his office (I could tell this by the fact their ties and pocket squares were clearly silk and slightly more expensive). It was at this point it dawned on me. This wasn’t simply a group of arrogant youths each engaging in 21st century Neanderthal display of alpha male dominance it was a perfect depiction of everything that gives the recruitment industry a bad name.

By not stepping in and correcting the consultant’s manor, the senior members of his organisation had undoubtedly condoned such behaviour and attitude towards a candidates wishes. This reaffirmed in my mind what I had always suspected; that the over zealous and narrow minded behaviour of consultants at some larger agencies wasn’t simply the result of misguided youthful ambition but the product of training.

Now I can only assume the leaders of such companies are living in and driving much larger houses and cars than I, so who am I to criticize their methods? But I wonder if their clients knew how they were being represented as an employer to what potentially could be the next leadership team of their business, would they feel impressed.

I know I’m not the only person to witness such a bad representation of my industry and I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has experienced anything similar first hand?