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Apparently Jobseekers Hate Recruitment Agencies

By April 7, 20163 Comments

20160310_181301There’s always been a general air of agency-bashing permeating the recruitment industry, well certainly there has for the decade of my involvement anyway.  Usually it’s just a general sense, anecdotal evidence, Chinese whispers, a subtle roll of the eyes when a newly-met acquaintance learns what it is you do for a living.

The common complaints are ones you’re all no doubt familiar with.  We don’t return phone calls.  We don’t provide feedback.  We just care about the fee, rather than the feelings, of jobseekers out there.

A lot of it is true, but nearly all of us immediately put ourselves mentally into an exalted and elevated circle of “higher-purpose” recruiters exonerated from all such barbs and criticisms.  It’s true, we all think, of the cowboys in our industry that all give us a bad name.  But not me.  I’m different.  They’re just giving the rest of us a bad name.


Well this week those dark mutterings that cloud our industry have apparently been confirmed by hard data, with Talent Propeller releasing a report that suggests:

“…more than half of New Zealand job seekers (51 per cent) have had a negative experience with a recruitment agency and would rather apply for a position directly.”

Most of these “reports” are conducted in such a way that the desired outcome, and subsequent “story” and press release, has already been planned and devised before the actual data is compiled.  Certainly in this case, a business that offers companies a “smarter and more cost-effective” solution to traditional recruitment agencies has, from a very small sample size of 250 respondents, managed to generate a story that supposedly lends weight to their mission.

We clearly live in a media world now where 127 people saying they don’t like using agencies versus 123 saying they do, is enough to make loud proclamations that recruitment agencies are letting down HR.  It would be funny if, say, four jobseekers were to change their mind and say they did have a good experience with an agency and were happy to use them.  Suddenly we’d have a story saying “Majority of New Zealanders Love Using Recruitment Agencies to Find Work” and us recruiters and HR types live together in harmony for evermore.

Nah, didn’t think so.

So I wouldn’t worry too much about press releases like this.  But I would pay attention to the impetus and mission behind it.  Businesses like this are getting louder, and getting more effective, and whilst it’s a stretch to say they are “disrupting” recruitment, they are certainly changing the landscape.  We’re part of that too, with our virtualRPO model.  I’m all for it really, as companies will always need recruitment (and recruiters, in my opinion).  But we can certainly do more to refine, improve and innovate in how we deliver those services to business that need our support.

I noticed a billboard recently advertising a similar attempt to disrupt the temp recruitment sector too – turns out the business called is also run by the same people behind Talent Propeller.  Looks like an ideal platform to use if you want a guaranteed shortlist of White European candidates…


There will be more and more of this.  Embrace it, compete against it, fight it or join it.  But whatever you do, don’t sit there and keep doing the same old thing you’ve been doing since 10 years ago.

Pretty soon, jobseekers really will hate that.

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.


  • Seth says:

    Always a good read..

  • Jules says:

    When you have a look at the actual function of recruiters, it is pretty abysmal, in terms of the rewards they make. In my industry, and I dont know what other industries cop, but I’d say it would be roughly similar, around 18% of my income disappears, on an ongoing basis, to a recruiter, in exchange for the recruiter to place a shortlisted CV in front of an employer, and the ancillary work of fending off those who don’t tick enough boxes, and in this work environment, you do have to tick every box to move to the next stage. So, good luck trying to change career if you suddenly find that your previous career has been offshored (as mine was) – going through a recruiter was a dead end. The JD posted on the job site was not the same as their internal JD, where the previously mentioned required boxes that required ticking were. I only find this out after ringing them for a slanging match, where some self rightous old boiler who “has been doing this job for 26 years” proceeds to tell me that the JD is a lot tighter than what was on the website, and she doesn’t have time to do anything more than change the name on the 2 line email that basically humiliates you by saying that while your CV looks great, you wont be going anywhere with this role – no mention of the fact that the JD she has is not the one on the website, where things like “public sector experience required” would have immediately meant I moved on, rather than ringing up to inquire as to why my skills weren’t a good match to her website blather, and getting the real JD – which lead me to ask why she doesn’t advertise that instead, and save herself what looked to be a fair degree of consternation. The only thing I could take out of it was that she just loves hurting people. No, really, loves it. This is her job.

    To say that there are simple things that recruiters can do to improve their name is putting it mildly. NZ recruiters are actually a lot better than their British counterparts, who I can only guess did something very bad in a previous life and becoming a recruiter became their punishment, which they then seek to share the pain of. Here in NZ they do ensure you are paid on time however – I remember one offshore occasion where I downed tools after the recruiters (who handled my wages) were two weeks late. That got them moving. I told them next time, if they were so much as a day late, it would be the same story, and I’ll pass the information onto the company I was contracting to. Dont be afraid to do what you need to do to get results.

    And dont go through recruiters. Go direct. Unless you absolutely have no other choice.

  • Christine says:

    I’m currently interviewing for a job and going through a recruiter. I absolutely hate dealing with her, I would much rather just deal directly with the company. I’m now at a stage where I’m waiting for a decision on the role, and I’ve not heard back from her for a week, and my email request for an update has gone unanswered. All this points to bad news, I get it, but it really annoys me that the recruiter doesn’t have the decency to tell me what’s going on. They’re only interested in talking if there’s potentially something in it for them, and this has been my experience in the past too.