This post was written by our Co-Founder JuIiet Eccleston

For a long time, I’ve been vocal about the problems within the hiring industry and my strongly-held belief that, as it stands, it simply isn’t fit for purpose. In some of my recent blogs, I mentioned that I was working on a project which would lift the lid on recruitment agencies and now the time has come to spill the beans. In the interests of fairness and transparency, AnyGood? has partnered with a totally independent research company, Explain the Market to conduct a survey of over 1000 UK jobseekers and employers to establish the reality about people’s experiences with recruiters.

Over half think recruiters are dishonest

The results confirmed my worst suspicions and paint a troubling picture of an unregulated industry with no barrier to entry and service levels which fluctuate wildly. Over half of all respondents that have used recruitment agencies in the past year said that they don’t feel they were dealt with honestly. One respondent revealed:  “Based on my career in pharmaceuticals, education and the charity sector, I can think of only one or two recruitment consultants that I have ever trusted.” Quite frankly, this shows a shocking lack of public faith in their integrity. It’s hard to imagine any other sector being mistrusted to this degree without there being an outcry, yet so many feel there’s no alternative.

Specific problems cited by respondents included the fact that agencies frequently put making a profit before the needs of an individual hirer or jobseeker, lack the necessary industry or sector expertise and don’t listen properly to requirements. Unscrupulous behaviour such as posting fake job advertisements to lure people into signing up was also reported.

Recommendations are better when they come from real people

In addition, fewer than 5% of people said that they would trust a recruiter to advise them whether a candidate or role was right for them. Given that this is the point of their existence, this is a real cause for concern. A further 90% said agencies relied too much on technology – such as algorithms – to match jobseekers to positions, instead of the recommendations coming from real people. As one disheartened respondent explained: “Sometimes I feel like I’m written off before anyone has a chance to get to know me or even talk to people who know what I can do.”

Time to clean up the recruitment industry

From my perspective, there can no longer be any doubt that the recruitment industry needs cleaning up for good. While there are undoubtedly some effective, honest firms out there, it’s also clear that trust in the sector as a whole is at an all-time low. It’s under-regulated and unlicensed, and so many of these third-party intermediaries are being allowed to deliver appalling levels of service, all while they handle people’s careers and businesses.

We’ve seen estate and travel agents come under threat from Purplebricks and Airbnb, and now it could be a case of the writing being on the wall for recruiters. In fact, our research revealed that 45% of respondents are now using recruitment agencies less – or not at all.

It’s time to take action. We want to enable real change for the better and the way to do that is to uncover and explain what really drives confidence in the sector. As a result, we’re kicking off a Trust in Recruitment campaign – this survey is just the beginning. We’ve also launched a website which will chart our journey as we move to the next stage of the movement: action. We’ll be engaging with industry experts and examining what can be done to restore integrity, honesty and transparency to the hiring industry. I hope that this will be the start of a conversation for change.

You can read the full report here and follow events as they unfold on Twitter at @TrustInRec.