SEEK’s Sourcr under ACCC scrutiny for third-party recruiter reviews
Nearly five years ago, after attending the 2018 ATC, I wrote a blog A.I. will change agency recruitment but in an unexpected way in which I predicted the rapidly increasing importance of recruiter reviews, specifically;
What is very different about the A.I. era of specialisation is the accompanying transparency that recruiters are now just starting to be both exposed to, understand, and deal with the consequences of.
The information about a recruiter’s specialisation and accompanying success rate in placing high quality candidates into important roles, compared to their industry peers, has not been easily obtained, robust or meaningful.
This is about to rapidly change.
Three Australia companies (that I know of) now provide a window into this new world of transparent specialisation and objective performance.
Justin Hillier’s Recruiter Insider, Justin Falk’s TalentVine and James Jennings’s Sourcr are all products that feature ratings of individual recruiters. Whether the ratings are coming from clients and/or candidates, and in what form, context, and level of visibility, varies across the three offerings.
The ultimate consequence of this level of transparency is that the performance of all individual agency recruiters will very soon be easily available and the rankings will be seen as robust and credible, to audiences both inside and outside recruitment agencies.
The “robust and credible” part is, of course, completely reliant on the system not being gamed.
The credibility of online reviews is an area of significant interest for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to ensure that consumers are not being misled.
Last October the ACCC issued a statement to serve as a warning to businesses about the competition regulator’s forthcoming scrutiny of online consumer reviews.
“The sweeps are being conducted over the coming weeks as part of the ACCC’s compliance and enforcement priorities for 2022-23, with the broad aim of identifying deceptive advertising and marketing practices by businesses or industries.
We are looking to identify businesses, review platforms or sectors where there is a pattern of misleading online reviews and testimonials that have the potential to cause significant consumer or small business harm.”
Online reviews in the recruitment sector, specifically specialist review sites such as the companies I listed in my 2018 blog, would appear to be under the spotlight of the ACCC according to a bombshell article published by industry news service, ShortList, yesterday ($ subscriber link).
“….concerns are being raised about the practices of recruitment review platform Sourcr, which was acquired by Seek in 2021 and integrates with its job ads.
These concerns relate to Sourcr allowing recruiters to add pre-existing customer testimonials to their profiles.
Sourcr was founded by Chris Almond and James Jennings in January 2017 and was subsequently acquired by SEEK in August 2021.
The concerns raised by ShortList is the option on the Sourcr platform that allows users to add pre-existing customer testimonials from other sites (eg a Google review or LinkedIn Recommendation) to their Sourcr profile, specifically;
- when recruiters add historical reviews, they are dated at the time of the historical review’s upload to the Sourcr site, not the time of the original review
- the functionality that allows a star rating to be added to the third-party review when such a star rating is not a feature of the original third party review (eg LinkedIn Recommendations do not offer the option of star ratings to the writer of a recommendation).
- the functionality that allows a heading to be added to the third-party review when such a heading is not a feature of the original third-party review (eg LinkedIn Recommendations do not offer the option of a heading to the writer of a recommendation).
These three features available to Sourcr’s customers appear to unambiguously mislead consumers based on the general advice offered by the ACCC spokesperson quoted in the ShortList article.
“… review platforms may mislead consumers in editing and publishing reviews on third-party websites. This may occur through a platform adding its own star rating to a consumer review, creating a new headline for that review, or changing the date of a review so that it is more current. According to the spokesperson, “platforms that engage in this kind of conduct risk misleading consumers and breaching the Australian Consumer Law.”
ShortList’s article included responses from both Sourcr and SEEK, neither of which specifically addressed the three areas of concern raised by ShortList and highlighted by the ACCC in the above quote.
I can only imagine the communication that’s occurred in the past 24 hours between the relevant SEEK executives and the Sourcr co-founders. The last thing a jobs board monopoly global tech company wants is more scrutiny from the competition watchdog.
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Thanks for the shout-out, Ross. This is an important story with potentially very serious ramifications; it’s definitely a space to watch. Shortlist will publish more as it develops.
Great. I look forward to ShortList’s continuing coverage, Jo.
Thanks for shining a light on this, Ross (and Jo).
This is an important issue that needs resolving for recruiters/agencies as well as the reputation of the industry as a whole.
I couldn’t agree more, James.
Fascinating read, look forward to following the story.