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Policing Recruiters’ Internet Access, and News from NZ

By May 6, 2010One Comment

How stringent are your recruitment firm’s internet policies?  Do you have a total ban on internet use in your workplace, or do you have completely unfettered free access to the internet through work?  Or perhaps something in between, like internet access before 8am and after 5pm?

I personally thought this kind of workplace behaviour policing was a thing of the past.  Especially in the recruitment industry where the very nature of our jobs is our ability to access and harness technology to source, search and build networks of clients and candidates in our markets.

So I was staggered to hear on two occasions this week that internet policing is still alive and well in the recruitment industry.  On one occasion an acquaintance of mine who works in recruitment asked me for some information on something industry-related.  It just so happened that I had referenced this in my blog post last week, so I directed him to that with a link to The Whiteboard.  He came back saying that access to my blog was banned through his work’s server.  I found it quite funny really.  This blog is intended as a source of information for the recruitment industry and a forum for discussion (that is my wish for the future anyway!)  I am seeking to create an online community for our industry in New Zealand.  Clearly this firm regarded The Whiteboard as a threat – to what I’m not sure.  Time consumption?  Loyalty of staff?  I will never post a recruitment job on this blog, or use it any way to coerce someone to leave their current employment, so I find it funny that access to it would be banned.

Then I was following up with another candidate who was placed not so long ago.  Not wanting to disturb her at work I sent a quick e-mail to her personal e-mail.  The reply came two days later because she told me she was banned access to her personal e-mail account, even during lunch breaks.

This all reminded me of a personal experience I once had in a firm where they were considering banning access to Linked In, and seriously frowned upon consultants connecting online with candidates or clients.  Obviously, they were worried about consultants leaving the business with all of the intellectual property neatly tied up in a Linked In account that they had no power to prevent walking out the door.

My question is this:  What is the real reason for policing the internet in a recruitment firm?

I think that technology has become so prevalent in what we do as recruiters that it is seriously damaging to do this, and presents a real threat that these consultants will get left behind in the dark ages.  It is fruitless to try and stop your consultants connecting in other ways outside your own internal database.  Ban them from Linked In and Facebook and out will come the I-phone, or at the very least they’ll jump on their personal laptop at home to do it anyway.  The real danger is that you will end up alienating your own consultants who will feel like they are being treated like children (I hear this quite a lot from consultants looking to move into a more ‘adult’ recruitment environment).

The only benefit I can see is from a productivity point of view.  I have to say that the initial firm in question do achieve some very high activity and productivity levels, linked in part to their stringent approach to focusing consultants constantly on the job at hand.  As a consultant you can learn some good lessons from this, but it will be no surprise to hear that this firm also suffers from high turnover.  Once the lessons of discipline and productivity have been learned, most consultants these days will next seek a more grown up environment.

So policing the internet does have its benefits, particularly with new and rookie consultants learning their trade, but it is 2010 now, for goodness sake at least let them access it during lunch breaks and after work.



The biggest news to come out this week was the surprise fall in unemployment to 6%.   Although, I have to say that for most of us in recruitment this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise at all.  I think it was back in November that the job market suddenly seemed to turn and those clients who for a year had been constantly repeating “No” were instead starting to say “Well maybe…”  Seven months on and from where I’m sitting the jobs market is back in full swing, judging by the demand from recruitment companies for quality recruiters anyway.  What it undoubtedly means is that business confidence and demand for labour will continue to rise sharply, and we will very soon be back in a labour-short market.  Hopefully you have been doing this consistently through the recession anyway, but now is definitely the time to be establishing, building and firming up your candidate relationships and networks.  Goodbye career counseling, hello recruitment.

In other big news for our industry, a new CEO has been appointed to the RCSA, our professional industry body.  Or is it big news?  When I was at Hughes Recruitment we were members of the RCSA.  Now I am running Rice Consulting we are not.  And the difference it has made?  Nothing.  I’m all for a strong professional body to guide us on ethics and lead us on policy and to arbitrate in disputes, but I have to say that most people I talk to regard the RCSA as nothing more than a toothless tiger.  Anyway, Steve Granland has been appointed to take over from the well-regarded Julie Mills on June 7th.  He is currently the Australian HR Institute’s National Manager for Member Services and Corporate Sales.  Rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?  No wonder he went for CEO of RCSA, it will be much easier to say when he gets the BBQ questions of “so…what do you do?”  He was placed by Ross Human Directions.  I wonder if the RCSA asked for a discount.

And Finally…


There’s a lively discussion going on following a recent blog on the Rec-to-Rec industry in Australia by Ross Clennett.  I’ve chipped in with my two cents worth in the comments, but it does make interesting reading to hear both sides of the argument.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Jonathan Rice

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

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