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What's in a Name?

Posted On : Nov 22, 2013


What’s in [a] Name?

Written by: Natalie Singer, Editor of the APSOgram
6th June 2013

Plenty; especially if you’re considering making a career move.
For the majority of skilled individuals, choosing a potential employer is a critical decision that could make – or break – your future career. For many people however, it is accepted as the "norm” that recruiters don’t divulge the name of the client until an interview with the client has been set up. This is not correct and flies in the face, not only of the APSO Code of Ethical & Professional Practice, but international best practice too.

Consider for a moment, the amount of personal information that is contained within your CV and the potential for disaster should it become widely known that you’re seeking alternative employment. Wouldn’t you rather know exactly where your CV is going, to whom, and for what?

The South African job market is in fact rather small, particularly for those individuals who have chosen to specialise and offer their skills within a niche market. It is critical therefore that you choose to engage with a professional recruiter who understands that you need all of the information, most importantly who the client is, to make a decision on whether to consider the job opportunity on offer.

As an individual who engages regularly with recruiters, I’ve heard all the excuses under the sun for not divulging the client’s name, from "my client doesn’t want their name bandied about in the market” to "what if the candidate goes behind my back direct to the client?” Each time, I gently remind these recruiters that candidates have a right to know where their personal information is being sent and that, if they offer the level of professional service we expect, they should not have any concerns about the integrity of their clients or candidates.
At this point, it should be remembered that the recruiter is also obliged to offer their client a measure of confidentiality. In maintaining this balancing act, the recruiter is only required to divulge the name of the client to a candidate who they have shortlisted and wish to send to the client for consideration. Simply put, this means that the recruiter does not have to tell every candidate who applies to them who the client is, only those who they plan to represent at the specific client for the specific vacancy.

For too long, candidates have simply accepted that recruiters are "in charge” and whilst they do wield a great deal of power within the recruitment cycle, individuals should know their rights and be unafraid to stand up for them. After all, your reputation could be at stake if your chosen representative (recruiter) does a shoddy job.In an extreme case, a candidate of mine (when I still ran a recruitment desk) was horrified by recruiters and refused to even consider working with me. After many conversations and the promise of a simple "cup of coffee and no strings” I finally discovered the reason for his apprehension. It turned out that a recruiter, who shall remain nameless, had sent his CV – without his permission – to a client that was actually a division of his existing employer. Needless to say, he was hard-pressed to explain himself when his boss called him in to ask why he thought it necessary to put his CV on the market. A completely idiotic mistake that should never have happened, had the recruiter done her homework; but definitely wouldn’t have occurred if the candidate was told the name of the potential employer at the outset. He would quickly have advised the recruiter of the link between the two companies and his CV would never have been sent.

Contrary to popular belief, it is never a good idea to have your CV out all over the place, especially if you’re currently employed or have a skill set that is in high demand. Potential employers are likely to be wary of someone who appears to be uncalculated in their career development process. What would you think if you heard that the candidate you were considering had sent their CV to every company in the sector simultaneously? Wouldn’t you question their motives or their ability?

Hedging their bets

Some individuals, in their eagerness to secure employment with a particular company, choose to give permission to more than one recruiter to submit their application to the same position, believing that this gives them a better chance of securing the interview, and ultimately the job. Whether this is because they doubt the ability of the recruiter, or think that if their CV arrives from two different sources, the HR person will automatically short-list them believing them perfect for the job, I’ll never know for sure.

What I can say for sure is that the opposite is more likely to happen. In many engagements with HR practitioners, I have heard the same thing over and over, "if a CV arrives more than once, I’m likely to avoid the candidate, worrying about the possible fee dispute that could ensue between the two recruitment agencies” or "unless the candidate was a needle in a haystack, I’d probably not choose to interview to avoid any unnecessary arguments”.
In one particular instance, an HR practitioner told me the story of their epic struggle to find a specialised technician. They’d been looking for nearly 6 months when the perfect candidate turned up... eight times, through eight different agencies! Despite their need to fill the vacancy the HR committee took the decision not to consider the applicant because they were concerned at his lack of control, planning and decision-making in respect to engaging the services of a recruiter, qualities they believed were critical for the role they were trying to recruit[.]

Whilst it often happens that an individual’s CV arrives more than once because they were unaware of it being sent in the first place, this can be boiled down to two simple situations. One, an unscrupulous ‘recruiter’ has simply lifted the CV from a job portal and submitted it to the client without ever engaging with the individual, or two, one or both of the recruiters has failed to divulge the name of the client to the candidate during their usual recruitment process. This situation could simply be avoided by ensuring that each time you engage with a recruiter, you make it clear that you wish to have all of the information, including the name of the client, before you consider being submitted as an applicant for the role. At the end of the day, you are providing the recruiter with permission to represent you in the particular recruitment instance, and they are not permitted to send your personal details without your express permission.

Protect your reputation

Understanding your rights will lead to a more constructive recruitment process and should ensure that your reputation, within the sector you’ve chosen to work in, is maintained. Always choose to work with a recruiter, ideally one who belongs to a professional body like APSO, who is committed to building a long-term relationship with you that is characterised by trust, integrity, open communication channels and above all, honesty.
By choosing to deal with an APSO member company, you know that their recruiters are bound by the Code of Ethical & Professional Practice that clearly outlines the minimum service levels expected to be given to candidates. Included therein is the obligation to complete a thorough recruitment process, including a formal interview; to understand your career requirements; to ensure that your current employment is not jeopardised; to gain your express permission to represent you at a specific client for a specific vacancy; and not to charge you for any of these services. And, if you feel that you have not received the required service, you have the opportunity for recourse via the APSO Ethics process, at no cost to you.

The APSO website also contains a host of useful articles on [their] In the Hiring Line blog.

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