Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor

A colleague and I were meeting a senior candidate the other day and during the conversation we asked him how he was enjoying his current company – he had been there for four years.  As part of his answer he mentioned that he had been headhunted into that role; we, being nosey, asked who and which firm had done it.  He replied that he couldn’t remember, but that the same recruiter had called him recently to ask if he was interested in another position with a different company.

Now, we aren’t right off the boat or born yesterday but, to us, this was shocking.  The same recruiter who had placed the candidate a few years ago now had no qualms about calling his old placement and luring him away – to another client who will pay him a fee to do it.  And then, presumably, in time, repeat that process with another unknowing client.

For those of us who adhere to high ethical standards (that’s most of the international headhunting companies) that behaviour is appalling.  It’s generally a given that if you deal with one of these companies that we won’t cheat you this way.  And I use the word ‘cheat’ deliberately: how else can you explain a consultant who takes money from you for a service and then turns around and takes away the result of that service?  To me that’s cheating and highly dishonest.

The trouble is that the temptation – and the pressure – to cut costs leads some companies to try to cut corners on recruitment.  They use cheaper firms and they get a lower level of service – but if they get a candidate, who cares, right?  But from a sustainability point of view you might care.  If you have to pay recruiters (the same one?) every two years to fill a position (perhaps that he or she has helped to make vacant for you), where’s the sustainability – or the common sense – in doing that?  Either way, by using low quality agencies you are propagating the merry-go-round of candidates: when the music stops perhaps you will be the one who doesn’t have the best talent.

In closing, I’m reminded of an email footer of my friend EB.  It says “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”.  Food for thought.

As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.


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