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How Do You Know Your Recruiter Is Ethical?

Posted on 3/03/2016 by Jo Hodge

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By Jayne Morris, CEO, TPP Recruitment

The recruitment industry as a whole has a pretty poor reputation, and many people over the years have experienced a bad level of service from recruiters, either as a candidate or a client.  For charities, where the crossover between employees, donors and volunteers is so large, it’s particularly important that their recruitment partner offers an effective service, but, more importantly, an ethical one.

In this post, we look at how this reputation has been earned and how you can make sure you’re working with an ethical and principled recruitment consultancy that shares your values.

Why the bad rep?

It’s a common perception that recruiters are simply out to make a quick profit, and will do virtually anything to fill a role, regardless of the quality of the fit.

Some common complaints about recruiters include:

  • Recruiters don’t have any real knowledge or experience of the industry they are recruiting for

  • Agencies charge far too much and don’t offer value for money

  • Candidates are pressured into taking jobs they are not sure about, just so the recruiter can earn their commission

  • Recruiters don’t listen to either their clients or their candidates

  • Recruiters put forward candidates without meeting them face to face or sometimes without even getting their consent first

  • Agencies place candidates in a role, only to poach them to another role after the guarantee period has ended

  • All agencies share the same small pool of candidates and don’t encourage diversity among their candidates

In some sectors, where all that matters is getting a candidate in place, however short-term, this approach can suit both agency and employer.  However, most not for profit organisations need employees who are right for the role, committed to the cause and likely to benefit the organisation in the long term, and they need a recruiter they can trust to supply these candidates consistently.

So how do you make sure your agency is reliable?

When you work with a supplier, it’s a good idea to assess the service they provide.  We’ve put together a checklist of questions you should be asking your recruitment partner – a reputable consultancy will be able to provide evidence to back up all of these.

TPP currently work with over 50 clients on Preferred Supplier List (PSL) agreements.  These include a service level agreement to ensure that we meet our client’s needs, challenges, budgets and priorities, so we are constantly being asked to provide evidence about our service levels.  Any other consultancy should be able to do likewise.

Do they interview candidates face to face?

Some recruiters will do anything to fill a role before their competitors, even if it means sending over a candidate’s CVs when they have not met (or occasionally even spoken to) the jobseeker in question.

At TPP, we pre-interview all of our candidates before we send our shortlist over; in person wherever possible.  We always meet temporary candidates face to face, but occasionally interview permanent candidates on the phone if geographic or time constraints apply.  This means that we have explored in depth the motivations for each candidate, and are confident they are a good long-term fit for your organisation.  We also verify their UK right to work, so we don’t waste your time with candidates who aren’t eligible.

Meeting face-to-face also allows us to ‘sell’ your organisation to the candidate.  The very best employees are always in demand and can often pick and choose.  Having a third party pointing out the benefits of working for your organisation can often make all difference  We also brief our candidates about the role and prepare them for interviews, so you can see their best side on the day.

Do they really understand your sector?

Too often, recruitment consultants aren’t dedicated to recruiting for a particular kind of role or in a particular sector, so they don’t have the specialist knowledge required to understand how your organisation works, the kind of employees you need or any grasp of trends and issues in your sector.  Not for profit organisations are structured differently from corporate organisations and require staff with specific skills and motivations, so it’s important your recruiter ‘gets’ this.

At TPP, the structure of our teams mirrors the internal structure of our clients, so one consultant won’t recruit for all of your roles.  Instead, we have a fundraising team who only recruit fundraisers, and a finance division who specialise in finance and accountancy staff, etc.  Combined with the fact that we only recruit for not for profit organisations, this gives our consultants a really good understanding of recruitment trends and employees’ motivations for moving, both within the broader sector and within their job function.

Do they keep in touch enough (but not too much)?

It can feel like recruiters constantly bombard you with telephone calls and emails, trying to get you to see candidates who just aren’t right for your organisation.  But when something goes wrong or you’ve got a question, suddenly you can’t get hold of them.  This is especially frustrating as a candidate, when you just don’t know what’s going on.

TPP are scrupulous at keeping both our clients and candidates updated throughout the recruitment process.  We know that candidates kept hanging in the dark can often simply go elsewhere, so we are constantly in touch with them so any potential issues can be tackled before, not after, an offer is made.

And once we have successfully placed a candidate, we don’t just forget about them.  We follow up on their progress with both employer and employee to make sure they are settling in on their journey to adding value to your organisation.  We also only discuss new opportunities with candidates we have placed if they contact us directly or apply for one of our advertised roles.

TPP are also passionate about sharing our knowledge and expertise with the sector.  We send our clients updates on trends in the sector which are likely to affect them and our monthly email newsletters have a wealth of recruitment and HR tips and advice.

Do they support the sector in which they work?

While other not for profit recruiters have employees who volunteer, or run the odd industry seminar, none of them works on the same scale as the TPP Giving Back programme.  We want to help both our clients and candidates to achieve as much as they possibly can, so we offer a wide variety of free services to help them do so.

These include:

  • Free advertising for volunteer roles

  • Free use of our boardroom and interview space

  • Free professional development seminars and networking events

  • Free career and recruitment articles and advice, and regular salary surveys

  • Free CV and career advice clinics and workshops

  • £100 IoF CPD voucher for every fundraiser placed through us

Our staff are also encouraged to volunteer with paid leave and many are trustees or regular volunteers for charities.  All of us have chosen to work with the third sector, and we feel it’s important to give back as much as possible.

Do they offer a diverse range of candidates?

There is a great deal of evidence that having a diverse range of employees makes an organisation more effective.  This is particularly true for charities, where there has traditionally been a disconnect between the type of people who work for the charity and their beneficiaries.

TPP are proud to have consistently represented an extremely wide range of candidates for over 17 years, including those with disabilities and from the older population; one of our part-time temporary workers is a 77 year old for example.  Our huge database and wide range of partnerships with associations and groups means that we can find candidates outside the usual pool of jobseekers, including those elusive ‘passive candidates’.  Because of our reputation and longevity in the industry, we also attract many commercial candidates who need a trusted partner to guide them to the right career within the sector.

Do they have a good reputation in the sector?

One of the best ways to judge the service a supplier provides is to ask other people who have used them what they think.

TPP constantly monitor the service we provide and our customers’ satisfaction.  95% of our clients and 98% of our candidates would recommend TPP.  We also constantly receive testimonials from both our candidates and our clients.  In fact, earlier this year TPP was voted Best Recruitment Agency in the Partners in Fundraising Awards.  We were also shortlisted for Best Consultancy in the Charity Times Awards.

Do they have industry accreditation?

A reputable recruitment consultancy should always be a member of a professional body, such as the RECIOR or APSCO.  At TPP, we’ve gone one step further and are very proud to have gained REC Audited accreditation.  Launched this year by the REC as the gold standard for recruitment, this award aims to differentiate those recruiters who can demonstrate that they operate best practice in areas such as customer service, staff development and client management. The process of attaining this standard starts with a diagnostic and also includes a detailed onsite audit by a REC expert who not only checks processes, systems and compliance but they also talk to staff and management to ensure they truly are a gold standard company.

We are delighted to have achieved REC Audited status and to be the first not for profit recruiter to do so!

Do they monitor their level of service?

TPP pride ourselves on delivering a principled and ethical service, but we do not sit on our laurels and assume all is always perfect.  We have:

  • an in-house Marketing Department who conducts the quality surveys and feedback questionnaires

  • an internal Compliance Department  to ensure that our candidates details are checked and double checked

  • an internal Client Services Department who impartially monitor our service to clients, conduct service reviews and can implement PSLs and Service Level Agreements

So you can be confident that our service is continuously monitored and improved.

Before you decide to work with any recruitment consultancy, do make sure you know the answers to the above questions.  Not all agencies are alike, and your choice of partner could affect both the productivity of your organisation and possibly its reputation!