As I’ve been saying for a long time, the recruitment industry is one in need of disruption. The good thing is, I’m definitely not alone in this view! Our research has indicated just that, with figures from our Trust in Recruitment survey suggesting 52% of people recently using recruitment agencies felt they were not dealt with honestly.
This negative perception of the industry reared its head again last week, in reaction to a thoroughly cringe-worthy promotional video from IT recruitment consultancy, Haigh Associates. The 43-second clip is short, yet still more than manages to convey some of the most disliked aspects of the industry. However, rather than choosing to hide them, Haigh Associates practically brags about them.
Range rovers, rooftop bars and private jets
The video shows the classic, ‘boys club’, money-hungry mentality that we’ve all come to expect from the industry. It features a group of six men as they climb out of a Range Rover, waltz through the company offices and finally climb aboard a private jet destined for Ibiza. The video then finally features the group clinking glasses together on a glitzy rooftop bar as the camera pans out. Not only is the video so laughably flash that it borders on insensitive, the lack of diversity is stark.
Predictably, the video struck a huge chord with the general public: the ones who deal with these agencies time and time again. The original tweet referencing the video is currently sitting at 5,584 retweets and 21,740 likes and was shared countless times across LinkedIn and Facebook, even featuring in a number of national media publications.
Rather than shy away from the criticism, company founder Jesse Gray said they were ‘proud’ of the clip which ‘gives an insight into the culture, environment and incentives we offer to our top performers’. Surely this statement only serves to hammer home the point that the industry is severely out of touch with the public.
What does it mean and what can we do about it?
While it may be fun to laugh and poke fun at Haigh Associates, doing so is symptomatic of a wider problem. In an industry centred on people, providing a service that can quite literally change lives, there should not be such a lack of human touch. Numbers from our survey reflect this, with 80% of job hunters very concerned about where the recruitment sector is heading, and 45% of people using recruitment consultancies less or not at all.
We want to encourage change. Our Trust in Recruitment campaign was one step to achieving this and we hope to push the movement forward by taking action on our findings. However, this alone is not enough. Many long-standing industries have been revolutionised by technology, such as estate agency with Purplebricks, and Airbnb. The power of community is revolutionising industries. This can also be the case for the recruitment industry. Research by trust expert Rachel Botsman shows that trust is moving away from institutions and brands towards decentralised systems where personal reviews become the building blocks of reputation. As Rachel herself put it:
“Trust is a conduit for travel”- we are forgetful creatures, we forget very quickly each of the leaps of trust we made before the latest or next leap. But we are putting more and more trust into things we simply don’t understand. Quite simply, we are becoming more accepting of risk or rather expecting that things will go wrong or people take advantage of our trust. Convenience and understanding of alternatives are the linchpins for ‘trust’ we are willing to let things like data leaks, financial screw ups happen so long as the service / solution is convenient. Companies are responding with campaigns of ‘transparency’. Trust does not equal transparency, “if our goal is to make things transparent, we are aiming to reduce trust – not improve it. We should instead be aiming for integrity at scale.”
This is why I co-founded AnyGood?, a crowdsourced talent platform that provides an ethical solution with integrity at its core. People put forward professionals they know for jobs that they think would be perfect for them. It’s a more human, more efficient process, and, most importantly, it works.