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RCSA New Zealand…is there a point?

By September 2, 20106 Comments

Can anyone out there explain to me the reason for the RCSA in New Zealand?  My business has been up and running for almost a year now and I have to say that the existence of the RCSA has only come into my consciousness four times during that period:

1st time – opening the doors to the business I thought I would look into becoming a member of the RCSA, purely for the purpose of belonging to an industry body that represented me and my profession and having a badge to display, to state that I belonged.  I thought about the ROI on the $425 and decided I would wait a bit until it became more apparent why I should fork out that money – I am still waiting.

2nd time – Greg Savage’s visit to Auckland to present Riding the Recovery.  A fine presentation it was too.  I learned some useful tips, networked a bit, actually got a couple of jobs out of it.  Brief chat with Greg, started following each other on Twitter – all good.  But I didn’t need to be a member to attend, so I promptly forgot about the RCSA again.

3rd time – Ross Clennett’s visit to Wellington to talk about the new era of Brand You.  Again, a great presentation and well worth attending, some more networking, couple of jobs, brief chat with Ross, follow each other on Twitter, now regular commentator on The Whiteboard – again all good.  Didn’t need to be an RCSA member though.

4th time – meeting with a client earlier this week who mentioned that they were long time members of the RCSA and were even involved with the running of the New Zealand branch at Board level etc.

Now this last reminder was interesting because I had entirely forgotten about them.  As a recruiter in New Zealand it never comes into my conscious thought.  And the comments from this client went a long way to justify my stance because they realise that the RCSA “has no teeth” (their words) in New Zealand.  It turns out that in Australia the RCSA certainly does have some teeth, and isn’t afraid to bare them from time to time.  For instance, in Australia you cannot tender for business from Government departments unless you are a member of the RCSA.  Who knew?  Further than that, if you do something dodgy or unethical, and get kicked out of the RCSA, you also automatically get kicked off the Government recruitment panel.

Now this is good stuff.  This sounds like the kind of thing I would see some more ROI in.  Advocacy.  Training.  Lobbying Government on Employment Legislation (did the NZ RCSA have any say or input into the recent 90-day laws in NZ?).  Enforcing ethical behaviour through arbitration and holding recruitment firms wholly accountable for their actions.

As far as I can see in New Zealand, as it stands, the only reason to be a member of the RCSA is so that you can go somewhere to complain about the conduct and behaviour of a fellow member.  Even then it is about as effective as a football manager screaming at the fourth official in a Premier League game – they are there as a sponge to soak up your anger and ire – and let it gently dissipate away again – nothing can actually be done about it.

I suspect I am not alone in these thoughts.  Looking at the list of RCSA Member Companies in New Zealand, there are plenty of household names, a few of the Globals, plus an impressive smattering of regional recruiters.  But there are some very noticeable absentees too.

This isn’t right.  I think that our industry in New Zealand needs a strong representative body who is seen to be providing genuine support, development, resources – and also a bit of policing.  With the market picking up again there will sadly be the re-emergence of the recruitment cowboys who are in it to make a fast buck at the expense of our wider reputation.

You all know that New Zealand subsidiaries of Australian corporates need proper, dedicated, committed leadership in New Zealand that understands New Zealand and doesn’t treat it as another state of Australia.  Otherwise it just doesn’t work.

The RCSA needs to do the same with its’ New Zealand branch.  Grow some teeth – show us what you can do – and then you’ll get my membership fee.

Otherwise we need our own industry body altogether – unique to New Zealand – why not?

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.


  • Bob Walker says:

    I’ve worked for the leading multi national exec recruiter and the leading independent marketing recruiter in the UK. I now work for what many regard as the main sales & marketing recruiter in NZ. To the best of my knowledge none of these businesses have ever been a member of recruitment industry bodies such as the RSCA. All 3 businesses were / are regarded as best practice recruiters.

    I think it comes down to a question of relevance. Or lack of.

    • nzrecruiter says:

      I think Gaulter Russell were actually one of the ones on the members list Bob. But goes to show how much relevance it has in your business is the owners haven’t made you aware of that!

      • Bob Walker says:

        Just checked, we are indeed members. Apparently everyone in the Rubicor Group is (as your article states there is clearly more relevance for membership in Aus).

        All I can say is that in 4 years in NZ (and the best part of 20 years in recruitment) I have never felt the need to join such a body. Always open to be convinced tho!

  • Gareth says:

    Interesting read Jon. I am sitting here with the latest RCSA invoice on my desk. We are a small agency in NZ, our fees are approx double yours for our size. We have been supporting the RCSA in all ways possible for the last 4 years, but I agree 100% with all your comments.
    I’d be interested to read some positive comments here from members in NZ who have achieved good value from their corporate membership (not the individual consultant memberships which are extra).

  • Brad Stewart says:

    Well written Jon. I am a owner operator hoping to expand and have not once considered RCSA as an option to assist in any way i.e. brand, presence, market or relations.

    I have a question for Bob… you clearly have a fews years recruitment experience up your sleeve and I’ve noticed that you’ve worked many senior roles. What would an org like RCSA need to do to be of value to you and your recruiting as an individual employee/senior recruiter?

  • George says:

    No, and the same with ITCRA – want to blanket solution with Australia which just does not and never will work – the industries couldn’t be more different , especially with the volume differences alone make them incomparable.

    I honestly think that until CLIENTS demand suppliers to be part of a governing body, there is no drive for agencies to join

    A group NZ body would make much more sense, and I alot think would get some momentum behind it – BUT – who is going to put the effort in to start and run it??

    There in lies the problem with ITCRA and RCSA – no one wants the job