My Lead Article in last week’s InSight #179 ‘Sorry, they are already on our database’: The lazy corporate rip-off generated a flood of emails directly to me as well as numerous comments on my blog. In less than one week it became my #6 most viewed blog post of all time (out of a total of 137 blog posts).
Here is a small selection of the emails and blog comments I received (slightly edited for the purposes of this article).
‘Thanks for opening up this debate – it’s a very real and genuine concern. I haven’t been bitten by this so much as having a client engage a candidate three months after my submission claiming that because they engaged her for an ‘alternate role’ than what I submitted her for, then ‘that didn’t count’, and no fee is applicable. As a consequence, I sacked this unsavoury large, national law practice and continue to enjoy hearing from various sources about the deterioration of their firm culture.’
Legal recruiter, Brisbane
‘We have had the same experience with a Global ICT Services company. We know that they have their own massive database but we also know that they dish the requirements out to their panel and it is the various panel members who flag back to them who is a good fit; who is interested in the role and who is available. The client then cherry picks their preferred people and yes, they use the excuse that they already had them. My response is always “well why haven’t you spoken to them!”‘
IT recruiter, Adelaide
‘Very very topical and relevant Ross – we are getting this all the time.
Also – what about the RPOs – who owns the CV after it is sent to them – the client or the RPO company? They say it is siloed, but is it? If we have clients doing what is suggested in the article – how do we know they are being ethical in the RPOs? The recruitment market is changing and we need to make a stand!’
Construction recruiter, Sydney
‘The “database” argument really resonates with me. Another phrase I have recently encountered is “we have a list and they are on it” in a law firm context, which is the same in effect but even more insulting!’
Legal recruiter, Melbourne
This has been a long held concern of mine as well many others I’m sure. There’s no transparency or ability to check the veracity of the clients claims. In addition to the issues you raised, what happens to these candidates that we lodge onto client databases in 12 months, 18 months etc (or even 3 or 6 months!). We’re building their talent pool and/or denying ourselves or another agency a fee down the track because “they’re already on our database, sorry”
Accounting recruiter, Sydney
I have received this from fellow recruitment companies themselves, particularly the Sales recruiters. I once interviewed a fantastic sales person with specialist skills, knowledge and contacts in a certain sector, and he was interested in getting into recruitment. I determined he had all the right attributes and then presented him to a recruitment company looking to grow their Sales Recruitment team. The response: They had the candidate on their database as a Sales candidate, so wouldn’t pay a fee for me referring him, even though they had failed to approach their own registered sales candidates about recruitment opportunities.
Rec-to-rec recruiter, Auckland
When we signed up with IBM they told us this clause – i.e. any database candidate is ours. I spoke to procurement and told them they have no legal right to ownership with ‘no time limit’ and we would send an invoice should I be engaged on a role and fill it regardless of their database. Firstly they told me no other agency had EVER questioned them on this! Secondly they changed it to representation on that specific job order – so should I send a candidate that has not been specifically represented and/or attached to that job code then this would be our candidate. I guess just clarifying your stance with the client is a good start – set expectations at the beginning!
IT recruiter, Sydney
In addition to these and other recruiters sharing their own experiences on this topic, I also had some people suggest a few potential solutions.
Here’s what James Purtell of Cox Purtell Staffing Services in Sydney had to say about how he is dealing with this issue
‘After a LOT of thought on this issue, one partial solution for some of the scenarios you bring up is to generate our own unique email addresses for our candidates for clients that use an ATS.
For example, when we add a candidate – say John Smith – to our internal database he is allocated a unique database id (say 123456). If we are submitting to a client that uses an ATS we now have a quick system to create 123456 @ coxpurtell.com.au (which we can look up in our system and find is John Smith).
The candidate does not have access to the email and all emails are automatically redirected to our reception who can forward it on to the relevant consultant if any correspondence is received – even if it’s in 2 years time.
This has multiple benefits:
- Protects our IP (and fees)
- Protects candidate privacy
- Increase our control over the recruitment process
- Stops clients ‘innocently’ or otherwise emailing the candidate in X months time with any company news or job info updates
- Stops “this candidate is already on our database, sorry” – if the client is using email addresses to uniquely identify candidates, which many are
Obviously there’s ways around it for the client if they really want to but it does make it a little harder.’
Here’s the light at the end of the tunnel provided by highly respected industry figure, Graham Jenkins (MRCSA, Life)
‘In the long term my personal vision is that we (RCSA) have a joint code of practice (with AHRI). I hope that is not a step too far. The practice on which you shine the spotlight is one that must be addressed if the industry – recruiters and HR – wants to be regarded as ethical and professional.’
Amen to that Graham. May the force be with you on this one.