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What’s in the water Gen Ys are drinking right now?

Last week I slammed the ham-fisted and unprofessional attack on the recruitment industry by a Business Editor, barely out of her journalist nappies. This week we have more mud to contend with, coming from a person who has had about 5 minutes experience in the world of work.

On Tuesday this week Gen George, the 22 year old founder of online job marketplace OneShift, got in on the act.

Ms George released a statement containing, amongst other things, the following:

The recruitment industry is broken. It’s completely exploitative, and is responsible for huge amounts of dissatisfaction on both sides of the employment equation – jobseekers and employers.

If you’re still using big recruiters to find your talent, you’re relying on an outdated, needlessly expensive and ineffective process. Stop wasting your money.

Clearly the $5 million that Ms George extracted from ASX-listed Programmed (owner of Integrated Workforce) for 27.5% of her company has gone to her head. I also suspect that some of that cash has been invested in hiring a PR firm who has decided the easiest way to drum up a bit of free publicity for their client is to slag off the recruitment industry. It appears we’re a popular target right now.

To say that our industry is exploitative is an appalling thing to say, completely wrong, shows her complete ignorance of what a recruitment professional actually does and denigrates the important role our industry plays in the national economy.

How dare she make such an inflammatory statement without a shred of evidence to support it?

Who the ***k does she think she is?

Grow up, Gen George. Show some respect.

You want to be very careful who you carelessly criticise on your way up, because you never know who you will need on your way down.


  1. Sam Smeaton on 06/12/2013 at 1:25 am

    Brilliant post Ross – couldn't agree more!

  2. Sam Smeaton on 06/12/2013 at 1:25 am

    PS – not all Gen Y's are like that 😉

  3. Anonymous on 06/12/2013 at 3:15 am

    I back her comments 100%. Recruitment companies take your call post a job on a job board then forward you the resumes. Ive delt with many, they dont meet or interview the candidates and offer no value at crazy prices. Your comments are obviously because you are scared she is right. Try cleaning up your own industry rather than pretending like there is no problem. Samantha.

    • Frank on 06/12/2013 at 3:50 am

      Samantha, maybe you should do some homework and use more reputable Recruitment Agencies.

    • Anonymous on 06/12/2013 at 3:57 am

      Not all recruiters do that – being on both sides, as a recruiter and now a client, I have seen ones that do it, but the majority dont. I myself have gone from being a recruiter and working my butt off to ensure I am doing what my clients pay for, and on the flip side have fantastic recruiters assisting me where I need now.

      Its like saying all mechanics rip you off. Not all do, but the ones that do give the industry a bad name. Are you going to ask them to clean that up?

      There are alway bad eggs in every industry.

      These comments fire me up as I am quite proud of my work and my colleagues in the industry are too.


    • Anonymous on 06/12/2013 at 4:07 am

      Ive used many, many, many recruiters. And there are some good exceptions I could name. But the majority are hopeless and couldn't survive without seek.

    • Ross Clennett on 06/12/2013 at 7:07 am

      You back her comments that recruiters 'exploit' their candidates and clients? Last time I checked both candidates and clients could freely choose not use recruiters should they prefer. I have never said the recruitment industry is perfect, couldn't improve or doesn't have poor operators but I, and I suspect a vast majority of the industry, take exception to such inflammatory language and evidence-free claims being spouted by a person who has only a small amount of experience in the workforce.

    • Nick Edwards on 06/12/2013 at 7:39 am

      Again I have to say to anonymous you're using the wrong recruiters, I have met face-to-face all candidates I submitted to clients, or if they were oversees at least Skype's with them when I worked agencyside

      Good recruiters add value to a business, bad recruiters don't.

      I now work in-house and embrace the relationships I have with my select few recruiters we use. They make my job easier and are beneficial to the business

      Make sure when you decide to use a recruiter get referrals or get testimonials

  4. Ben on 06/12/2013 at 3:34 am

    "An online job network which matches employees with employers"

    That's a revolutionary new concept!

    I bet seek and LinkedIn are shitting themselves

  5. Frank on 06/12/2013 at 3:48 am

    It's typical of Gen Y behaviour: if you don't have experience – just make it up!

  6. Anonymous on 06/12/2013 at 4:51 am

    I have Gen Y children in the workforce and what is definitely typical behaviour (as Ms George has confirmed in her comments) is that they can make any statement and voice any opinion without any evidence or stats to back up their claims. Shame, shame, Ms George. Sue

  7. Anonymous on 06/12/2013 at 5:11 am

    I've been in the recruitment industry for 16 years. You're spot on, Ross! At the tender of age of 22, I have to agree with your advice: 'You want to be very careful who you carelessly criticise on your way up, because you never know who you will need on your way down.' D. James

  8. Denise on 06/12/2013 at 5:33 am

    'The recruitment industry is broken'? Really? Not from where I'm sitting. Clients and jobseekers just have more options now with the progression and prevalence of online job-hunting and job-filling. There is a place for everyone in this evolving digital era. To 'slag' the whole industry is naive and shows inexperience and disrespect by Gen George for those of us who diligently operate a very successful recruitment business.

  9. Anonymous on 06/12/2013 at 5:45 am

    You speak of Gen Y having no respect, where is yours sir?

    "Who the #&%! does Gen George think she is?"

    Who the ***k do you think you are, Mr Clennett?

    • Denise on 06/12/2013 at 5:50 am

      What exactly is your point, Anonymous?

    • Ross Clennett on 06/12/2013 at 7:02 am

      I have the self-respect (and balls) to criticise someone using my real name. Where is yours?

  10. Brett Iredale on 06/12/2013 at 8:34 am

    I have never forgotten my first interview out of Uni at age 23. At the end of the interview my (to be) employer said "Son, I want you to remember one thing: At your age you know fuck all. The sooner you come to grips with that the sooner you will be adding value around here".

    Some of the best advice I ever received.

    I admire the disrupters and the give-a-shit attitude they need in order to be successful. I like a number of things about the Oneshift site and hope they do well. However I agree wholeheartedly that the press comments were not smart and will not readily be forgotten.

  11. Matt Durkin on 06/12/2013 at 12:38 pm

    Ross Clennett, digging beneath your unnecessary and scathing personal attack on Miss George, I understand you seem particularly offended by the assertion of exploitation occurring within the recruitment industry.

    Miss George has a point that cannot be ignored. The recruitment industry could use an overhaul. As you've pointed out, employees and employers have a free "choice" to use a recruitment agency (or not). But that tends to be where the choice ends. Miss George's company appears to be attempting to innovate in an industry where choices are limited. And with limited choices comes the perception of exploitation. I'm not saying all recruitment professionals exploit their clients, to the contrary, most attempt to offer services moulded to fit client needs. However, innovation by businesses such as Miss George's add another option to the choice faced by traditional clients of larger recruitment companies.

    Could Miss George have used less inflammatory language? Probably. But the way it is written does make you re-evaluate what extra value recruitment professionals add for their clients.

    Instead of demanding respect whilst writing personal attacks against young entrepreneurs, perhaps consider writing about the underlying issues from Miss George's piece whilst offering some actual insight into how the recruitment industry can increase its competitiveness.


  12. Rod Hore on 06/12/2013 at 10:52 pm

    Ross, thank you for taking the time and energy to confront this sloppy piece of publicity when many of us have just frowned and moved on.

    You do not have to be an avid reader to be bombarded daily with material that might just require consideration. The OneShift publicity has not held my attention other than to wonder why Programmed become involved – there does seem to be anything unique or new that is not already in the marketplace from a range of other vendors.

  13. Anonymous on 09/12/2013 at 1:53 am

    I think the saying "tarring everyone with the same brush" comes to mind. Of course there are bad recruiters. There are bad doctors, bad dentists, bad bankers, bad engineers, bad everyones and everythings. But in this case, what amazes me is that so many people who started out in external recruitment who now work in a different field are the quickest to criticize the recruitment industry.

  14. Anonymous on 09/12/2013 at 2:25 am

    Ross and others, I appreciate the fervour by which you defend the industry, buts let’s be honest, there is a growing perception we recruiters provide diminishing value to the recruitment equation. Indeed, there is a rather tarnished perception of the industry as a whole and this is not helped by the fact that for many companies, service and value seems to take second place to sales and revenue. These companies, I won’t mention names they know who they are, started by employing salespeople, backpackers, 20 year old uni dropouts etc and anyone who was half presentable and getting them to bombard potential clients with meaningless phone calls and floating resumes to whomever’s email address they could get hold. They employed and continue to employ people from overseas on temporary working visas because they are better sales-people not better recruiters. For them the focus is quantity rather than quality, we know this because the targets they set are sales related; number of marketing calls, number of visits, number of floats, revenue targets. How many place higher importance on quality targets such as number of successful placements beyond two years, positive customer review ratings or positive reviews from candidates? Here is where this model has really backfired for both them and us, a lot of these employees fail and some of them end up at our clients’ believing they can actually recruit because the reason they didn’t make it as a consultant had nothing to do with recruitment.

    So what does the recruitment industry do to combat this poor perception of recruiters? The answer to that is they employ more inexperienced people and teach them how to be better salespeople and that doesn’t really help. I think it’s time these companies take responsibility for the industry, support the development of recruitment strategies beyond “linked in”, place value on screening techniques, train their staff to deliver a service, what about sponsoring the development of a tertiary qualification in recruitment. The industry needs to set standards, we need to be considered experts in recruitment. It’s not just about “bums on seats”, it can’t be anymore, leave that to the internal recruiters.

    As for the likes of Gen George, well, as much as I hate to say it, we need to take notice because she’s not the first and won’t be the last to criticise our industry.

    • Anonymous on 15/12/2013 at 12:37 am

      I agree with what you are saying, particularly about Recruitment agencies training their staff to listen to their customers. In my current role, I deal with Specialised Recruitment companies constantly and I am continually being told that although I require people with specific skills and experience, the agencies are telling me that I will have to settle for less skilled and experienced staff (in the medical field). this is unacceptable. I am the client. I pay for their so-called service.

  15. Rob of Sydney on 09/12/2013 at 2:45 am

    So, Ross – you present a very mixed image. Here is your profile photo, looking very professional and up-market… and yet you (very) publicly put yourself in the position of a 20 year old ranting because some noob took your flag; which unfortunately has decreased any credibility you (had) quite enormously.

    You don't back up your statement with any evidence to the contrary (to quote, "… without a shred of evidence…), you barely accept that there IS a perception issue with the recruitment industry and it DOES have problems in the way many within the industry conduct themselves, and lastly you resort to inflammatory language; which when applied to an argument, makes you appear as an emotional ranter, rather than a logical thinker. Ask yourself, which side of that fence would you rather be on?

    Why I've taken so much effort in this post? 3 months of experience with a multitude of professional recruitment services looking to land a role, revealed of the literally dozens of 'professional' IT recruiters I worked with, there were only 1 or 2 shining lights. The rest? Were close to muck-racking-KPI-tickers.

    If you were to vent yourself again, I suggest you return with some rationale and reasoning of *how* "your" industry needs fixing, rather than shoving your head in the sand.

    • Ross Clennett on 09/12/2013 at 2:56 am

      I am not sure what you mean by 'You don't back up your statement with any evidence…'. What 'statement' is that?

      To repeat myself from an earlier reply, Rob, I frequently blog about the elements of the recruitment industry that need fixing and improving. My post on 5 December (the day before this post) where I assess the efforts of recruitment agencies with their career sites, is the most recent example of my constant urgings for the recruitment industry to raise the bar.

      As for my credibility, I'll leave it to others to make their own judgement on whether this post has damaged it, or not.

  16. Scott Burton on 09/12/2013 at 2:57 am

    Heaven help anyone relying on Oneshift to use a best practice process to identify, attract and select high caliber talent for a different client on any given day. Oh hang on, they don't do that do they – so her opinion is moot and as you say Ross, a great PR line. It seems like another in the long line of high risk online business models with zero predictability of profits, success or otherwise. I will be making sure that there are no 'Programmed' shares in my portfolio. The silly part is that this 'high tech, low touch' business model does not need to slam other recruiters to find some benefits to offer and I would suggest that it is a high risk strategy given that it highly likely to deliver the worst the industry has to offer.

  17. Anonymous on 09/12/2013 at 6:05 am

    Ross, I expect Gen George thinks is a journalist offering an opinion, that's what I got!. It seems that Gen has hit a raw nerve with you. Your response is suppletory to reason and does not attempt to defended the recruitment industry in any way. Is there any chance of some discourse on that point? or are we to simply infer without any knowledge from you that the Recruitment Industry is impeccably pristine and functioning like a finely tuned modern marvel?

    Christopher Flynn

    • Ross Clennett on 09/12/2013 at 6:32 am

      At this point I will invoke the late Christopher Hitchens and state that those who make claims without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Ms George is the one making the claims, not me. The onus is on her to back up her claims with evidence (something, anything!).

  18. Nigel Mills on 10/12/2013 at 10:02 pm

    As Churchill once said, "You will never reach your destination if you stop to throw stones at every dog that barks".

  19. Anonymous on 11/12/2013 at 1:31 am

    “Who the ***k does she think she is?”

    Very disappointing Ross and totally unbecoming of your professional stature.

    Your blog comments about a common perception of our industry and we all know that there are good recruiters & some very bad ones. If Gen George can develop something new that makes us re-think about what we do & how we do it, then that’s a good thing.

    Our industry has changed so much over the last 5-10 years and will continue to do so. The dodgy recruitment companies of the late 90’s seem to be gone now and agencies themselves seem to have stopped (or at least slowing up) on the hiring of non qualified, call centre type mentality salespeople that do tarnish the industry with such a bad name. There are still some of these around though as from a recent example I have had just this week of an agency sending a non existent candidates resume to a client to bait them into meeting them (the client showed us the CV who they then proceeded to call the last three employers of this ‘person’ to find out that they never worked there and then they found the details listed in the persons CV in a google search for someone else on LinkedIn !!) – but thankfully these rouges are getting less and less.

    Your defence of the industry is noble Ross, just don’t belittle yourself in such a child like rant to make the point though as there are areas and practices within the industry itself which should never be defended.

    • Ross Clennett on 11/12/2013 at 2:37 am

      I would never, and have never, defended such practices as you mention. They are appalling and are to be condemned as such.

      Just because I defend the recruitment industry does not mean I agree with all the practises that are undertaken by companies in our industry. I would hope this is obvious (and it is obvious to any regular reader of my blog posts).

      As to your comments about Gen George developing something new that makes us re-think, I completely agree and blogged exactly that point (about Gen George and OneShift) in June this year. It's her evidence-free claims that generalise about the whole recruitment industry being used to generate publicity for her commercial interests, that I take exception to.

      I would be helpful if you had the courage to identify yourself so I (and others) would have a fuller context from which to judge your comments .

    • Anonymous on 11/12/2013 at 4:53 am

      Hi Ross – my comments above are the first time I’ve actually ever commented on in your blog and I chose the ‘anonymous’ tag as I feel there are too many snipers in our industry who can or may use comments made against you. Whether that be in front of other clients or in industry banter like we are having currently, to express ones true feelings of what goes on and how one feels about the industry are best left from the shadows sometimes.

      I appreciate that will always leave a degree of doubt over the comments as they cant be verified, but I don’t think having the “courage” to supply ones name is really the point here. I am a supporter of yours Ross and do appreciate your passionate / analytical style, let’s not get childish here also though about requiring courage to disclose full details. If it concerns you, dismantle that option from the comments section or require those who want to comment to register with you first to then be supplied with a synonym before posting.

  20. Adam on 15/12/2013 at 11:32 pm

    Ross, I am a big fan of yours and I love your passion and loyalty for the recruitment industry. But I feel I must comment on your tone in the article and the use of expletives. Just didn't fit with your profile and I cringed a little. Almost stooping to Gem's level. And concerning her comments, she is obviously being way over the top, because if the recruitment industry is broken, then why are there so many agencies thriving?? But I do think that clients have woken up to the fact that they don't need to pay a big fee for CV email service and that they can do most of the work in house. The question is how well can they do it. But there is still a need for agencies that can find clients hard to find top candidates in skill shortage industries. There will always be a need for agencies if this skill drought persists, and it won't change any time soon. Stay cool Ross.

    • Ross Clennett on 16/12/2013 at 12:39 am

      Thanks Adam, my focus was (and still is) on the use of the word 'exploit' in describing the work of recruitment agencies. I am just as big a critic of some of the recruitment industry's practises as anybody outside of it and I have never said our industry is perfect or doesn't need improving.

  21. Terence on 11/08/2014 at 9:16 pm

    Up until age forty people think they know it all! Its when they arrive there that they realise they know nothing.

  22. Steven on 16/04/2015 at 10:08 pm

    By the same token, plenty of 40 year olds prop up their (incorrect) opinions with age (which they confuse with wisdom).

    Let's remove age out of the argument altogether, shall we Terence?


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