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SEEK’s New Product Creates Moral Conundrums for Recruitment Agencies

By March 10, 2016One Comment

We’ve been having a trial of SEEK’s new Premium Talent Search product for the past couple of weeks.  First impressions have been pretty good, it has to be said, although I’ve heard mixed reports from other trialists out there.  But then, like most online sourcing tools, their strength lies in the skill and ability of the user.  Buying a pair of Puma evoSPEED football boots doesn’t automatically mean you’ll start playing like Aguero.

It has, however, given rise to something of a moral conundrum in our offices this week.  A slightly ludicrous policy from one Aussie recruitment firm that they would refuse to represent a candidate that worked in a client’s firm, even if approached directly by that candidate for assistance, featured in a blog from Rachel Kemp this week.  It provoked Rachel into asking the question familiar to many agency recruiters – would you tap candidates from a client?

My take on it has always been pretty clear:  I would never tap up a candidate from a client whether I’d placed them there or not. But if the candidate approached me directly to look for a new role then I would feel obligated to assist.

But SEEK’s new product might just have created something of a grey area in this hitherto black-and-white policy.  Earlier this week we came across a freshly-updated SEEK profile, with current CV uploaded, for a recruiter we had placed into an existing client a few years ago.  What could this mean?  Was it time for a change?  A new agency, a new challenge, a move in-house perhaps?

Even asking the question would amount to unethical practice in the generally accepted moral parameters of the kiwi recruitment environment.

But then, what if someone else contacted them instead, and offered them poor advice, or persuaded them to make a move to a firm that we would probably advise them against?  As my cursor hovered over the “Message” button to the right of the jobseeker’s profile, my finger poised over my mouse and thoughts of hypocrisy and ethical damnation running through my mind, I instead decided to ask SEEK what they thought.

Richard Bayley, New Zealand Channel and Sales Manager – Recruitment Agencies, had this to say on the matter:

With our current advertising campaign running, it is not surprising that candidates are creating and updating profiles. A SEEK profile lets opportunities come to a candidate whether they are actively seeking a new job or passive in the market. We want to arm candidates with as much information as possible to ensure we’re supporting them and keeping them abreast of changes and opportunities within their industry.

In additional to the existing campaign, we also regularly nudge candidates to update their profile. This ensures that we continue to alert candidates to the right opportunities in their industry as well as delivering relevant content and market trends, so a candidate updating their profile on SEEK is not necessarily a sign that they are unhappy in their current job.

So there you have it.  The official line from SEEK is that they are spending lots of time and money persuading people to keep their profiles current.  The reason for this is obvious.  Clients and recruiters are less likely to pay for a premium product where most of the profiles are over a year old, but highly likely to fork out cash for fresh CV’s and current data.  Yet despite their comments, I still find it hard to see why someone happy in their job would be updating their SEEK profile.

I guess it creates a foggy area of ethics and how agency recruiters navigate it depends on the strength of their moral compass.  From my own point of view, SEEK’s comments have given me cause to retreat somewhat, and leave that “jobseeker” alone.

If you’d like to meet up with the SEEK team including Richard Bayley to debate this over a cold beverage or two, then come along to the next #RicePowWow on 31st March.  SEEK are sponsoring the event and we will also be hearing from the one and only Kirsti Grant with her HR Tech update.

Get in quick though, we’re almost out of room already.  RSVP here and see you then.


Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

One Comment

  • Gavin Buchanan says:

    As anyone who knows me can attest to, I’m a big fan of Seek PTS – key advantages over networking platforms like Linked IN like none of the song and dance of sending inmails – will they / won’t they be accepted. We’ve been using it successfully since launch and the ROI’s about 10 times better based purely on placements.