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Ethics and Good Recruiting

by
Kevin Wheeler
Dec 8, 2006

It is far too easy to get caught up in our own perspectives, careers, and day-to-day activities that we don’t see alternatives to the problems we face. Instead, we continue to follow traditional approaches, even when they are obviously inadequate.

Almost everyone involved with talent acquisition is squirming under pressure from hiring managers to find more qualified candidates. Recruiters are quick to grasp at any solution that offers hope of giving them access to better people.

Hence, the rapid rise of niche job boards, referral and networking tools, and greatly renewed interest in Internet searching and in “poaching” candidates.

At the same time, recruiters face pressure to source in ways that may be legal but not exactly ethical. Discussions about ethics on ERE and on various blogs over the past year have not been encouraging.

I do not believe in or advocate many of the practices that are being offered. All is NOT fair in war, as the Geneva Convention, the Nuremburg trials, and the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague demonstrate.

It is easy to mark patently dishonest and deceitful practices as unethical; the real test comes in the gray areas. These are where it is not clear if a practice is wrong, such as willfully discrediting a company to make an employee feel that it would be best to move on, that test ethical thinking.

Recruiters who use methods they know are deceitful or dishonest do no one a favor. They harm their employers’ reputations and sully their own. Recruiters who are not sure whether a practice is wrong might do well to put themselves in the shoes of the candidate or the manager on the other side.

They might also look at all the options they have and ask which does more good than harm. Good ethical practices treat all the parties concerned with dignity and respect and advance the values of the organization. In the long run, it is not important whether you “win” the candidate, but whether you have done so with integrity and fairness.

Assuming you practice ethical recruiting, how can your organization meet its needs for talent? Conventional thinking about careers and a lack of imagination on the part of HR and recruiters is probably contributing to the perception that there is a growing lack of skilled talent available in the workforce. There are many alternatives to unethical recruiting and to filling talent shortages.

Create a Strong Brand

Rather than go after people with desperation and resort to unethical practices, create a website that is exciting and that compels interest in your organization. No matter what your organization does or how big or small it may be, your organization has unique characteristics that are attractive. The key is to define your target audience very clearly and go after it with specific messages and promotions.

I see most organizations promoting generic criteria and using generic messages that are not aimed at any particular group. This means that many ignore you and others, mostly the unqualified, apply in droves.

Use emerging tools such as MySpace to let potential candidates know about you. The U.S. Marine Corps has recently done this and has enjoyed great success. Creating a MySpace profile is simple and brings your organization to hundreds of people through referrals. Sign up for Jobster, a service that makes referrals more effective.

Hire a Recruitment Process Outsourcing Firm

If you are really struggling to attract good people, it may make sense to contract with a recruitment process outsourcing company that can help promote your organization and that has access to a wide community of potential talent.

For smaller organizations, or for those with a highly specialized talent base, using RPO can offer lots of advantages. These firms are staffed with seasoned pros who know their markets and offer service agreements that make it a low-risk proposition. This is better than becoming frustrated to the point that common sense and good ethics get compromised.

Look Inside

Larger organizations have many talented, culturally aligned, and productive employees who would welcome an opportunity to do something different. Leading-edge firms, such as Dell and Schlumberger, have developed internal systems that allow recruiters to locate people with specific skills within the organization.

The systems capture employees’ skills, performance history, education, and interests. These employees are usually passive, or not looking for an internal move and not aware of the opportunity.

Yet, they are often eager to take a look at that opportunity once they are approached. These systems also allow actively looking employees to add personal information or apply directly for posted positions. When there is a need to fill very highly specialized positions, internal people are frequently the best qualified to do so with the least amount of training.

Short-Term Training and Coaching

Many times employees can be given skills more quickly than we think. Cisco, IBM, and countless other organizations have put together short-term, intensive training programs that enabled employees to gain new skills and become productive in a matter of weeks. This is often no longer than it takes to source, screen, interview, and hire a candidate from outside who, after being hired, still needs time to become productive and to learn the new culture.

With e-learning, mentoring, and coaching, employees can be given skills they need quickly while being productive.

Rotations

Sometimes it is a good practice to let people rotate through several jobs so that they acquire at least some skills in many areas. This way they can be moved to fill gaps very quickly and with a minimum of additional education.

Rotations can be done frequently but on a short-term basis so that the impact on the employee’s current position is minimal. It just takes some creative thinking to make this work without much bother. Do this in slower times, when work tends to be less than normal.

Educating Hiring Managers

Times are changing and with this comes the need for managers to better understand the talent marketplace. It will be harder and harder to find qualified people over the next decade.

For some jobs, including certain finance positions, nursing, and pharmacy jobs, as well as management positions, there will be a crisis. Even aggressive stealing and blatantly unethical practices will probably not meet the needs.

Managers must have a better understanding of these issues and you as recruiters need to make the business case for managers approaching talent acquisition from a variety of ways, rather than to simply go outside to meet every need.

Talent acquisition is getting more complicated and requires recruiters who are strategic talent advisors more than just “order takers.” The best recruiters do not need to use unethical practices because they have learned more options and have sold those internally.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Anthony Haley

    There really are no grey areas. Things are either ethical or not and we should all know whether something is or not. I believe we all do, but some have other agendas and bigger priorities than being ethical like job retention, being better than the next etc….and it suits them to create a ‘grey’ area as a way of justifying their actions.

    Willfully discrediting a company to make an employee feel that it would be best to move on is not about ethics. It’s just bad practice, inexperience, desperation. Call it what you will.

    Any recruiter should know not to ever discredit a current employer. If they don’t, they have no place in recruitment. It’s just plain tacky.

    The first rule of any good salesman is to never knock the competition, especially if they are a current supplier.

    Maybe this whole ‘never ending’ ethics debates is really about the difference between good sales skill, poor sales skills and no sales skills. The people that really need addressing are the owners and managers of companies that allow their ‘untrained’ staff loose our recruiting world.

  2. Karen Mattonen C.A.C., C.S.P

    Bill,
    Maybe there should be an article regarding the code of conduct and standards of this industry.. Indeed there has been for some time. These standards can be found at http://www.recruitinglife.com, http://www.americanstaffing.net
    and other associations. They are pretty consistent and standard. They started and have been around from when we used to be regulated Nationwide.. (many may remember)

    To address another post as quickly as I can ? Yes, many industries have had concerns regarding ethics this past year and in fact one I can think of is the Financial industry.. there has been some issues w/in the Medical, Pharmacy, Science. Defense, and Construction Contractors, Venture Capital had their fair share, as did Insurance all have their own spotlight on them this year ? These are only naming a few. ? Yes, I am sure we have all heard of Sox Compliance, the ethics of the financial world..

    There are Bad lawyers, evil doctors, nasty insurance companies. Do we get rid of the Codes of conduct that surround these industries, because of a few bad people.. or does the industry Strive for more awareness, education, and of course Disciplinary action to Reduce the negative behavior.

    Should we get rid of police because Crime maybe considered rampant in some cities? There are many who do want to see this industry Strive for Excellence.. Other professional industries have done the same, should we not as well?

    Recently read an excellent article – Birth of the Ethics Industry in business ethics magazine ? I am adding a link, so please review and make an opinion for yourself.. but here are some excerpts I found interesting – ?.. but there?s another effect of Sarbanes-Oxley less remarked upon. Corporations are rushing to learn ethics virtually overnight, and as they do so, a vast new industry of consultants and suppliers has emerged. The ethics industry has been born
    Recruiting for the ethics army is vigorous. Craigslist ? the free community search engine ? recently listed 64 jobs in San Francisco and 50 in Boston that included the word ?Sarbanes.? Monster.com ? a broader job search engine ? tallies more than 1,000 and, on a recent check, 158 posted in ?the last 24 hours.?
    The article goes on to mention the positive aspect that Sox Compliance seems to be brining to business in helping with the bottom lines, helps reduce fraud and errors..

    There are extremes in any industry, and ours definitely have our fair share. Is it due to the easy entry, no barrier, that anyone can be a recruiter w/o any knowledge or education.

    I don?t think that the average recruiter who may perform in an unethical manner – intends to be unethical ? I really don?t, I think that they Really don?t know any better ways. They were taught something, read something somewhere, and even though they may be uncomfortable, they believe that is the Way ?everyone? else does it, so it must be right.

    The biggest problem we have ? Isnt? that we don?t have a code of conduct, or standards in this industry ? the problem we have is that we don?t know WHERE to find them. We don?t know where to get the PROPER education — Yes Bill YOU are correct in some of your comments, ?cause there is a Lot of Blind teaching the Blind on this network sometimes.. And sometimes it isn?t about what you know but who you do, that help promote, inspite of lack of knowledge.

    I close with this? Our industry has 3 amazing Associations designed for Staffing, Personnel Services and Human Resources. They have some of the best information available ? Training as well.. articles written by industry experts who not only have the knowledge but MOST important they have the Experience. The information is there at your fingertips. Reach out to them and learn, and hopefully like ERE brought the Fordyce Letter to Us, there will be more positive, educational information brought to the recruiting world..

    Article Link http://www.business-ethics.com/current_issue/summer_2005_birth.html — Yes it is 2005, and yes it is based upon Sarbanes and Compliance.. hopefully some would not find dated or too Topical, but instead will look at the full content, and the Moral of the story!

  3. Krista Bradford

    Hi Kevin,
    Great article. One can either work harder to find talent or one can work smarter to attract it. I would echo your sentiments and in light of the growing talent shortage believe the only viable way to attract critical talent will be to practice Good Recruiting. In fact, our practice (The Good Search)is devoted to serving great companies that are also good — to their employees, their shareholders, their communities, and to the planet at large. We don’t presume to be the arbiters of goodness, but rather our intent is to make the business case and to serve the unique needs of the growing number of companies that, to varying degrees, are embracing Corporate Social Responsibility.

  4. Steven Levy

    Kevin-

    Do we excoriate all car salespeople because a few are wretched?

    Ethics come to play in every industry – have other industries been made to bare their souls as ours had this past year? The entire topic is the tail wagging the dog – a great many of us who have recruited for years cringe every time this topic comes up because as a whole it is not a problem.

    Is he fast food industry fraught with an e Coli problem? The media would have you think so.

    Are all companies evil because they lay people off? Some would have you think so.

    Do we not support soldiers being shot at overseas because the Commander in Chief did a poor job at planning? Some would have you think so.

    This entire discussion on ethics during 2006 has not produced a single change to the attitudes of those who refer to us as headhunters, flesh peddlers, and sales reps. Forget about being scared into believing there’s an ethics issue in our industry and instead try focusing on…

    Returning phone calls in a more timely fashion
    Understanding the business (try taking a course in your recruiting area)
    Understanding the characteristics and behaviors of the hunted
    Training hiring managers (and becoming a confidante)
    Learning about organizational development (like succession planning, performance management, leadership development)

    …and maybe take an ethics course instead of pontificating about it.

  5. Bill Wager

    This ethics thing has generated a million words of babble with nothing like a resolution anywhere on the horizon.
    Of course, that’s what happens when things are not defined.
    Where is the code of ethics? And, what are the violations thereof..? . No one seems to know,

    ——With the exception of one or two odd situations where some universal standard was actually transgressed.

    The rest, a cacophony of opinion ranging from reasonable to ridiculous.

    Not that one would ever expect this to be an easy discussion anywhere outside the school of Zeno.

    The conversation here deteriorated because of the diversity of the audience.

    From the coquettish reticence of the new corporate recruiter to the take no prisoners pantomime of the TPR wannabe (income only), to the triangulation of the ‘human capital management process validity and implementation consultant’.

    Some, recruiting investment bankers, some taxi drivers and some–well–nothing at all.

    Who are we talking to?

    And that brings me to this fine article (no facetiousness there) who does it speak to?

    IBM and Dell train people to do jobs they couldn?t do before–that’s terrific.
    What does it have to do with us?

    Will Holly, the corporate recruiter, who doesn’t have the authority to buy a box of pencils implement this?–will TPR’s?

    The consultants might , if they had an actual client to talk to.

    I know that ‘well, we all have influence’ will be the response. How about job rotation–I think I’ll have that start at my biggest client on Monday.

    But I only use this article to illustrate the problem of not defining an audience, not defining a profession and not defining a process.

    I’d like to have a dollar for every new recruiter who read any’how to’ article here and tried to apply it to his world and failed–because what works for taxi drivers won’t work for investment bankers.
    So I would suggest that anyone who gives specific advice (‘the 10 steps to six sigma recruiting facilitation’) first state who he is, where he works, what his responsibility is, what business and what type of candidates this information applies to —and — who the article, or advice is directed to.
    Actually, I?d like to see a W2 as well. That might clear up some of the horse-puckey.

    This article was obviously for CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies and not us at all.

    (In truth, I have a hard time finding a connection to many articles written here?I just spend half the read time trying to figure out what problem is being addressed and for who, Many are complete fabrications and some?like this, have little to do with the audience.

    ERE has just acquired the Fordyce Letter?where everything connects with me. I hope that any pollination only goes one way,

    Let the Letter stay just the way it is and not become another brick in the tower of babble.)

    Happy Friday to all.

    Bill Wager
    Hunter Green
    40 Exchange Place
    NY, NY 10005
    212-742-0990
    billwager@hunter-green.com

  6. Jeff Altman

    Kevin, first of all, an excellent article speaking to corporate HR about what I have been writing about in my ezine, Natural Selection Ezine, as becoming the employer of choice for people (www.naturalselectionezine.com to subscribe). Becoming an employer of choice involves more than branding–it involves taking constructive steps to attract, promote, retain and take on the difficult subjects.

    Becoming an employer of choice means fewer offers being turned down. It will involve some reduction in staffing costs–you may attract more and better quality staff who want to join you based upon image and reputation. You may attract every third party recruiter in the hemisphere and will obtain better results from them because your HR brand sells well in the market

    The one ‘miss’ I want to bring up is working with managers, whether hiring or not, to look at patterns of bias and work toward defeating them.

    Age-ism, racism, homphobia, sexism, evidence of institutional bias on the basis of religion and other criteria abound anecdotally.

    As organizations sit down and notice the clusters of groups collected in departments, there are no accidents that these clusters are occuring. Subtle and not-so-subtle incidents of bias lock out talented people from too many organizations where they could have made a strong contribution.

    Having been in the search industry for more than 30 years and been taught to notice these patterns, test them and, ultimately use them to my advantage, I am personally tired of listening to the speeches of organizations that outwardly champion diversity yet, when dissected, have departments no more diverse than a baseball team was before Jackie Robinson played for the Dodgers.

    Third party recruiters are chastised for unethical behavior in (alledged) service to their institutional customer . . . and rightly so. Human Resources needs to turn inside and encourage managers to identify their biases, defeat those negative and pessimistic voices, and help broaden the pool of talent available.

    Oh, yeah. Assumptions. How many of us see a long name and wonder how well the person speaks and don’t make the call?

    Respectfully,

  7. Todd Rogers

    Nice one, Kevin. Good luck fielding all the e-mails generated from this one. I undertook a similar endeavor on this topic a month or so back. I am still getting input from people.

  8. Todd Rogers

    I’m not so sure I’m on-board Anthony. I’ve thought about this one for some time. I imagine it would be psychologically convenient for things to be ethical and not ethical and then have the debate end with that. But I regularly find two people in strict disagreement about whether or not something is ethical. Both hold claims that they know that their actions are ethical and all too often they are diametrically opposed. One geopolitical example could be the present war’s eavesdropping measures being practiced by the NSA. It appears that millions of Americans think this information-gathering technique is OK and ethical. A select minority find it to be reprehensible. In situations such as this, how does one go about determining if something is or is not ethical?

    Thanks much for your consideration!

  9. Anthony Haley

    Todd, I think it’s important not to confuse ethics with other things as with the example in the original article which I don’t think was actually about ethics at all. I don’t believe your example is really about ethics either. It’s much bigger than that and ethics would not be the reason for it to happen or not.

    Whether two people agree or disagree on anything does not always mean that there is a grey area. One is still probably right while the other is wrong. It’s just a question of determining who is what.

    It’s like having two people dispute if robbing a bank is legal. If one says it is and the other says it isn’t, it doesn’t suddenly create a grey area where it could either. Both parties know it’s not legal but the bank robber wants to convince the other that it is because they don’t know how else to get the money.

    Grey areas are to suit people being unethical in the same way as it would suit people that are acting illegally. Defence Lawyers just love to create grey areas don’t they?

    Keeping things ethical and legal doesn’t need a grey area. Acting unethical or illegal certainly does. In fact it depends on it.

    This ethics discussion has no ending because ethics now seems to be the buzz word to get an interest in an article whereas the whole thing started with the self promotion of some dodgy practices. So why don’t we all try to bring an end to it.

    As far as recruiting is concerned which is all we are really discussing here, I would love to see some examples that anyone thinks are a grey area ethically and lets discuss further to see if they really are grey.

    Otherwise, lets all move on.

  10. Bill Wager

    Karen:

    Well, then why don’t we agree on one of these codes?
    and simply cite chapter and verse whenever an ethical violation is arises?

    There is no discussion about parking in a fire lane; it violates ordinance 612-544 of the Podunk civil code and that?s that.

    If you?re concerned about ethics, why don’t you post a proposed code here (you can’t have multiple codes), on this board and try to get consensus?

  11. Karen Mattonen C.A.C., C.S.P

    Bill,
    your excellent response is a great example of what is wrong with this industry

    The codes are indeed agreed upon. In fact they are very much appreciated and respected by all members of the associations..

    And the codes are ALL Very similar, to each association.. Few words changed I guess due to copyright, I would venture, but don’t hold me to that..

    Okay, the PROBLEM is — that many don’t know about these Codes.. In fact many are not even aware of who ASA, or NAPS is, they are not familiar of their own State Associations (many of the States do have an association that is affiliated to the two) — they could not even tell you the meaning of the Acronymn. How old the associations are, what they signify to this industry.. or even the important element that they play in our industry — we do have individuals who actually help us be aware of legislation and lobby against new laws that can Harm our industry

    See, Bill, this lack of awareness comes from the easy, no bar of entry to this industry. Someone hears that one can make 15k from just clicking a few keys on the internet, spamming, or Ruse calling to find names..

    Problem is, many come in with no education, no knowledge, and they learn some really interesting techniques, which they justify, even against their Own holy grail, because they don’t know any better.. But, none the less they hold on tight..

    This industry has one of the Highest Turnover and Burn out than any other industry.. Ever wonder why?

    To end my long monologue, maybe it is time the Associations Come to the Plate and take some responsibility..

    I vote, all three Come togethor — Yes include SHRM here – Under One umbrella, and start aggressively get the word out.. Formally educate our industry

    Educate on the Adopted Standards.. The standards that were acknowledged and created when we Were legally regulated accross the United States..

    Bring this knowledge to the fore front.. Maybe we should also Self Regulate this industry.. Not only to bring education and knowledge, but in respect to our Clients and Candidates… Bring back PROFESSIONALISM, UNIFORMITY, AND National understanding of this industry.

    My biggest fear is that We will be regulated by the Government again; As long as individuals believe that ethics are Personals (they are not as unethical behavior harms other people) – people are educated on questionable recruiting tactics – and individuals continue to Defend techniques that can cause harm to themselves and others.. well the Negative shadow will continue to Grow over our industry.

    The Government is indeed concerned.. Gee, the FTC, SBA, and BBC have cross linked to a page that they created, all about our ‘wonderful’ industry.. Does that concern me.. Heck Yes.. of all the Thousands of industries, they have a page that points to us.. And there are some who think that is no big deal..

    I don’t want the Government regulating us, our job is hard enough, w/o their regulations… It would be better if we can do it for ourselves… And if we continue to support these negative values in this industry, their little spotlight will grow… Especially as we continue to grow.

    The beautiful Code of Conduct is indeed valued Bill, and it boils down to these simple principles –

    Respecting your fellow recruiter, client, and candidates — Respecting their information, their companies, and respecting their privacy, hard work, and trust.

    It is aboout earning trust, and living up to it.

    I have included the links to the codes of conducts of the associations. There are more than one page, Bill.. There is a page for Recruiters and Clients, Recruiters and Recruiters, and Recruiters and Candidates.

    There isn’t just one aspect that can be taken out.. it is ALL Very important!

    Karen

  12. Karen Mattonen C.A.C., C.S.P

    If you did a search on Recruiting Code of Ethics, one would be surprised at how many associations, nationally and internationally will pop up.. What is even more amazing is again HOW SIMILAR they are..

    They follow the Same guidelines..

    I was able to find a break down of the codes..

    NAPS Code of Ethics
    Standards of Ethical Practices

    Relations Between Recruiters and Candidates

    Candidates shall be referred to employers/clients for interviews only on job openings for which at least verbal authority has been given by the employer/client.
    Representations made to candidates about the duties, probable length of the employment, hours, benefits, and salary of prospective positions shall be in conformance with the best knowledge of the recruiter.
    Precautions shall be taken against referring any candidate to employer/clients who are known to engage in illegal, or questionable business practices, which might jeopardize the safety of the candidate.
    Information about a candidate will be used only for the purpose of finding employment for that candidate. Confidential information shall be treated accordingly.
    A candidate shall be aware of charges, if any, before being permitted to incur any obligation for services rendered. Any monetary obligations including interest charges, shall be fully disclosed in a written agreement, a copy of which shall be provided to the candidate, and it shall set forth any circumstances for which a candidate has to pay for services.
    No candidate shall be referred to any employer where a strike or lockout exists or is impending (according to the best knowledge of the recruiter) without being notified of such working condition.

    Relations Between Recruiters and Employers/Clients

    A candidate’s employment record, education, qualifications, and salary requirements shall be stated to the employer/client as accurately and fully as possible. Clients shall be advised by the recruiter if the recruiter disclaims liability for the accuracy of any information it transmits to the client.
    A candidate shall be referred to the employer/client for interview only with prior authorization of the employer/client, which may be given verbally.
    Confidential information relating to the business policy of employer/clients, which is imparted as an aid to the effective handling of their job requirements, shall be treated accordingly.
    Candidates shall not be solicited for other positions while they are still in the employ of the company with whom they have been placed by the firm in question, unless the candidate initiates reactivation of his/her candidacy.
    Direct mail, bulletins, and resumes of candidates presented to employer/clients shall represent bonafide candidates.
    In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, candidates will not be directly solicited from a client company within one year of the most recent placement with the same client at the same location.

    Relations Between Temporary Services and Temporary Employees

    Employees shall be assigned to client companies for which a written or verbal job assignment has been given by the clients? company?s representative.
    Representations to employees about the duties, probable length, hours, salary, bonus, overtime and working conditions of temporary assignments shall be in conformance with the best knowledge of the service.
    Precautions shall be taken against referring temporary employees to any client who is known to engage in illegal, or questionable business practices which might jeopardize the safety of the temporary employee.
    Information about temporary employees shall be used only for the purpose of assigning the employee for temporary work. Confidential information shall be treated accordingly.
    A temporary employee shall be notified in writing of charges, if any, before being permitted to incur any obligation to the temporary service.
    No temporary employee shall be referred to any client where a strike or lockout exists (according to the best knowledge of the temporary service) without being notified of such condition.
    Employer financial and legal responsibilities to temporary employees shall be met in a timely manner.
    Temporary services shall not tolerate harassment of their temporary employees based upon the employee?s sex, race, age, religion, national origin, disability, veteran?s status or membership in any other protected class, whether the harassment is by co-workers, employees of clients or third parties. No retaliation shall be taken against any temporary employee who makes a complaint based upon a reasonable belief that any of such harassment has occurred. When a temporary employee complains about any such harassment, the temporary service shall promptly investigate the complaint, and take all reasonable steps to protect the employee from further harassment.

    Relations Between Temporary Services and Clients

    A temporary employee?s experience and qualifications shall be stated as accurately and fully as possible, to the extent requested.
    A temporary employee shall be referred to the client for work assignment only with the prior verbal or written authorization of the client unless other specific arrangement has been made.
    Confidential information relating to the business policy of the client, which is imparted as an aid to the effective fulfillment of the job requirements, shall be treated accordingly.
    Communications, written or verbal, with clients regarding temporary workers shall represent bonafide temporary employees and their qualifications.
    A temporary service firm shall not induce a client company to breach any terms of any contract it might have with another temporary service. A temporary service firm shall not induce an employee or prospective employee to breach any terms of any contact he or she might have with another temporary service.

    Relations Between Personnel Service Firms, Clients, Candidates, Employees, and Each Other

    Anyone who has a complaint about a personnel service should be directed to file the complaint with the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee of NAPS Headquarters.
    GAPS provides adequate means for assuring adherence by members to its Standard of Ethics. To further the effectiveness of these procedures, each member shall be responsible for bringing to the attention of the Association?s Ethics Committee any violations of these standards. The Ethics Committee shall process any such complaint in accordance with its usual procedure, and, where all facts warrant it, the Ethics Committee shall bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate government authority for its action.
    A member shall not in the course of advertising, public relations efforts, or any other activity engage in untrue, unfair or misleading criticism of any other personnel service firm.
    All personnel service firms shall commit to ensure that the workplace is free from discrimination based upon sex, race, age, religion, national origin, non-job related disability, veteran?s status, or membership in any other protected class. Members of the association shall not knowingly violate any law prohibiting discrimination upon the basis of sex, race, age, religion, national origin or non-job related disability.
    Placement firms which enter into cooperative placement relationships with other placement firms shall comply in all respects with the terms of their agreement. Disputes between member firms arising out of cooperative placements shall be resolved by final and binding arbitration before the Association, in accordance with the NAPS Rules for Final and Binding Arbitration then in effect. Each party to the arbitration shall comply in full with the decision of the arbitrators.

    Advertising

    Positions listed by placement firms in newspapers or other media shall be factual and refer to bonafide openings available at the time that copy is given to these publications.
    All advertising promotion of announcements regarding certification must conform to the standards and format of the NAPS Certification Program.
    Temporary assignments listed in newspapers or other media shall be representative of the types of openings and compensation actually available through the temporary service.

    Fees

    No candidate shall be obligated for a placement fee until an offer and acceptance has been made between employer and candidate.
    Adjustments and refunds of candidate or client fees shall be made promptly, in accordance with the agreement between the personnel service firm and its client or candidate.

    General

    Members shall cooperate with and permit at any time, complete and thorough investigation of an alleged violation of ethics or standards that tends to reflect on the business practices of the individual service and NAPS, by the elected officers or duly appointed committee of the National Association of Personnel Services and shall abide by decisions of the investigative committee.

    Note: These standards of ethical practices are in no way to supersede or replace the requirements of local ordinances or state and federal laws.

    National Association of Personnel Services
    10905 Fort Washington Rd Suite 400
    Fort Washington, MD 20744
    301.203.6700
    Fax: 301.203.4346

  13. Karen Mattonen C.A.C., C.S.P

    Please forgive the new post. I was able to gain permission from Bob Rystrom of Us-recruiters to display his associations code of ethics.

    I particularly like them as they are short and sweet, and would be excellent to compare them with the ethics of NAPS, and to go with Bills Suggestion.. maybe then we now can use these as a tool for Positive discussion.

    CODE OF ETHICS

    STANDARDS OF ETHICAL PRACTICES
    and or Rules of Engagement

    Members of The US-Recruiters Network (USRC) are committed to providing high-quality and ethical search, employment, and temporary services to the clients and candidates they represent. The groups Ethics Committee maintains Grievance and Arbitration procedures. To obtain a list (hard copy) of member firms, or to inquire about these procedures, contact the Managing Director.

    COMPANIES

    Candidate employment records, qualifications, and salary requirements shall be stated to the client as accurately and fully as possibly, or requested.
    Candidate shall be referred to clients for interview only with prior authorization of the client, which may be given verbally.
    Confidential information relating to the client’s business, which is imparted as an aid to the effective handling of job requirements, shall be treated accordingly.
    Candidates placed by a member firm shall not be solicited for any other positions while still in the employ of clients with whom they have been placed.
    Member firms shall not knowingly solicit as candidates any employees of the member’s client firms.
    Direct mail, bulletin, and resumes of candidates that are presented to clients shall represent bona-fide candidates.

    RELATIONS WITH CANDIDATES

    Candidates shall be referred to clients for interviews only on job openings for which at least verbal authority has been given by client.
    Representations made to candidates about the duties; probable length of employment, hours, and salary of perspective positions shall be in conformance with the best knowledge of the consultant.
    Precautions shall be taken against referring any candidate to employers who are known to engage in illegal, immoral, or any questionable business practices.
    Information about a candidate will be used only for the purpose of securing employment for that candidate and/or screening for client’s position. Confidential information shall be treated accordingly.
    Members whose primary business is ‘Permanent Placement’ must be either registered or licensed by the state they reside in as employer fee paid agencies. Fees are privileged information between the USRC member and their client. No member shall discuss fees, accept fees from candidates or try to collect fees from a candidate. Fees are privileged information between the member and their client.
    Members whose primary business is ‘Contract/Temporary’ placement shall not discuss the ‘bill rate’ and or the ‘pay rate’ with the candidate. The financial arrangements made between the member firm and the client should always be considered privileged information
    No candidate shall be referred to any employer where a strike or lockout exists or is impending (according to the best knowledge of the consultant) without being notified of such condition.
    No candidate shall be referred to potential employers without that candidate’s prior knowledge and approval.

    PRACTICES

    A member shall not participate in ruse calls, whether to an employer or another recruitment firm.
    A member firm shall not misrepresent their client relationships to candidates (i.e., claim exclusive or retained agreements where none exists, etc.)
    When fee disputes or other conflicts arise, member firms will accurately and fully explain to clients, and candidates, to the best of their knowledge, the rules and regulations governing the recruitment industry.

    RELATIONS BETWEEN MEMBER FIRMS

    The primary directive governing relations between members is essentially a version of the ‘golden rule.’
    Members shall respond to voice mail, fax, and or email communications from members within a reasonable time frame – (48 hours or less). Members who don’t demonstrate a sense of respect for one another will be dropped from the membership roles.
    Members shall not discuss, bad mouth or render disparagingly remarks about a member to fellow members and especially to recruiters outside of our group. If there is a problem, discretion in mandatory and the complaint should be brought and or discussed only with the Managing Director.
    Members shall not, in the course of advertising, public relations efforts, of any other activity, permit the berating or criticizing in any manner whatsoever of any other personnel-consulting firm.
    Members will abide by the IOR rules as outlined in our member IOR form. Members who don’t abide by the rules will be dropped from the association.
    When member firms conduct splits, the placing firm will remit payment to the referring firm within 30 days or receiving payment from client.
    Membership dues in US-Recruiters.com are billed annually in January and due by the 10th of January. Failing to remit payment by the 10th could be the cause of termination.

    RELATIONS BETWEEN MEMBER FIRMS and PREFERRED VENDORS

    Members who disclose the contents of our Strategic Business Partner programs to other networks or non-members of usrc will automatically be terminated from USRC.
    Members who enter into a payment schedule with one of our Preferred Vendors and breaks that commit will automatically be terminated from USRC.

    ADVERTISING

    Positions listed in newspapers or other media shall be factual and refer to bona fide openings available at the time that copy is given to these publications.

    SERVICE CHARGES

    No client/candidate shall be obligated for a contingency service charge until after and acceptance has been made between the client and the candidate.
    In the instance of company-paid fees, no candidate shall be obligated for contingency fee charges.
    Retained search agreements will be given to clients prior to the initiation of the search.
    Adjustments and refunds of service charges that are mutually agreed upon shall be made promptly.

  14. Karen Mattonen C.A.C., C.S.P

    Wowzie, I delivered and now there is silence..

    Folks, indeed here lays a problem. We have in print the actual Standards of the industry. These same standards can be found on Any association, recruiting membership group, or Network. They do exist

    As Bill stated, we should have Constructive conversations about these standards. Are they unrealistic? Even though they are consistent? if so why?

    Why don’t so many people know about these standards? to me they seem pretty Obvious, but maybe that is becasue I was introduced to them from the very beginning of my recruiting career..

    We have entered into a new era one that has created tremendous issues with privacy and the welfare of the general public- candidates and clients alike. This is indeed an important Topic, and AESC stated the reason extremely well

    ‘The profession is built upon sensitive relationships with clients, candidates, employees and communities. Confidentiality and integrity are key to our professional practices and ethics. ‘ quoted from the AESC Association of Executive Search Consultants

    Jim Stroud wrote an article a few years ago that really outlines what could be a positive direction for our industry — A great idea that will never happen’ – this article has gained a lot of press and can be found on Recruiters Network, OnlineRecruiters directory, college recruiter, ezine — it is worth the read and even discussion.. that is unless we prefer to complain instead of finding a solution!

    http://www.onlinerecruitersdirectory.com/article_details.php?id=29

  15. Todd Rogers

    Anthony.
    Thanks for responding. I’m not trying to defer to the great minds of the ages in responding. But if what you say is 100% true, then it is also true that philosophers for thousands of years are wrong on this ethics discussion.

    One minor point. Robbers probably don’t disagree that robbing a bank is illegal. The laws are pretty clear on this. Robbers may argue that in some cases it is justifiable. But that is more of an issue of social psychology and perhaps not fully relevant here. Interestingly, the character Robin Hood was by his own accounts a thief and a very good one at that. But in the historical accounts, the fact that he deliberately and unjustifiably appropriated and then redistributed money from the rich to the poor (hence he qualifies as a criminal in the strictest sense of the term)somehow makes it OK to use him as an example of one of history’s good guys. I’m not going to shift this to a political discussion but it also sounds to me that if he were alive today and living in the United States, he would likely vote Democrat. Do you think he was a good man or not a good man?

    Perhaps there is another example, again, external to recruiting. Sen. Joe McCarthy has become known as the Cotton Mather of 20th century politics. And all things that were bad in politics from the late 1940s to the late 1950s are now someone mysteriously tied to him. It was later revealed that Sen. McCarthy was dead on. And no Democrat nor Republican can or will deny that although he was perhaps not the most diplomatic of men, Joe was right: The Soviets HAD infiltrated the State Department and DOD and there was no poverty when it came to the number of spies or in the depth to which they were able to troll for American National secrets. Simply put, there was an orgy of espionage going on at the State Department and no one was doing anything about it. But Joe had a way about him and in rooting out Soviet spies, he made a few people upset, particularly in the media. Today, when you look him up, or when Brian Williams invokes the term ‘McCarthyism’ on the NBC evening news, somehow it’s pretty clear that what follows is probably suspicious, and by many, deemed unethical. I use this example because I don’t think many people would disagree that getting spies out of our house is a good thing, and a top priority. If it were found out that Osama Bin Laden had successfully planted 56 moles inside of the CIA, just about everyone would agree that the CIA would need to be thoroughly purged before being allowed to re-open for business. But strangely, in the case of Sen. McCarthy, his undoing of the espionage network within our foreign services agency has gone down in history as a bad thing, and he will forever be remembered as a man of questionable ethics. So, in the context of the ethical-gray area discussion, while yes, attorneys do their best to create one and smoothly shift responsibility from one party to another, I can’t say that a gray area does not exist by its own rights. Additionally, equating legal standards with ethical standards is rather slippery and dangerous. You didn’t outright do that but it appears that when closely reading your comment, it may have been on your mind. Laws are changed oftentimes because ethical norms have evolved and the laws we use to govern behavior no longer fit the ethical paradigm. I mentioned Cotton Mather earlier – Did you know it was once ethical and legal to water-test a suspected witch without any sort of legal proceeding? In fact, it was unethical to not be a champion for the cause. Try that today in Salem and you’re likely to be thrown in jail, or burned at the stake. I believe you and I will disagree – I say the gray area exists and a smart person will learn how to navigate within it. Perhaps this is yet again, an example of where two people believe they are correct, and are also in distinct opposition to one another? Hence, our discussion has yielded another gray area. Or has it?

  16. Anthony Haley

    Todd, I think you will find Robin Hood was merely a folk tale and if he did exist was probably nothing more than a common thief.

    If you were to class someone as his character a good guy, you are by default labelling the people he steals from as the bad guys and as it is the bad guys generally acting unethical or in the folk tale of Robin Hood case badly, it renders the argument pointless.

    The only criminal thing for me about Robin Hood was casting Kevin Costner with his US accent in the role of Robin Hood. Didn?t quite do it for me.

    Whilst I do not think that unethical automatically equals illegal, it certainly can do and in some examples we have seen in the past, it gets pretty close. My point however was a comparison of legal/illegal as being a good parallel to consider against ethical/unethical with specific reference to the existence of any grey areas.

    I would still welcome any grey area ethical/unethical examples that apply to recruiting practices. Lets have some examples and see whether members of ERE consider them ethical, unethical or grey.

    Any other areas of discussion are probably not relevant to this forum including Philosophers, politicians and folk tale hero?s.

  17. Yvonne LaRose, CAC

    ‘If you?re concerned about ethics, why don’t you post a proposed code here (you can’t have multiple codes), on this board and try to get consensus?’

    Hi Bill

    That is what I’ve been endeavoring to do in the Ethics in Recruiting group (‘http://www.ere.net/erenetwork/groups/group.asp?GROUPID={91B0648B-7E5F-40EA-9550-958003629FA0}’).

    There’s been a lot of unhealthy distraction that’s taken us off task. But I believe the group is poised and very interested in resuming the examination and comparison sans the detours that have plagued the group for the past year and a half.

  18. Karen Mattonen C.A.C., C.S.P

    Here is a question —

    Why Reinvent the Wheel? These Codes of Conduct are accepted, honored and Revered by the industry… Every Assocition has adopted them — they were written BY RECRUITERS for RECRUITERS –What a concept!!!!!

    So, just stick to the basics.. The codes are there, they are our Industry History.. The Associations have disciplinary and advisory boards in place.. They are professional, and know what they are doing. They even ask the Members their opinions and thoughts.. what a concept!

    In fact, they are always there fighting the good fight with the Government to prevent future legislations that could further make our jobs difficult.

    Take a good look at our codes.. they aren’t outrageous.. they aren’t out of the ordinary. They touch ALL aspects of our job on a daily basis.. The clients, Candidates and Each other..

    To reduce them to something lessor will to reduce our industry to a substandard.. are we not a professional industry? Should we not respect what we do, the same way we want our clients and candidates to respect us?

    Should not that respect then be earned?

    There is no need to reinvent the wheel, but instead, embrace what is part of our history, and implement them in our daily lives..

    Link to the recruitng TimeLine http://www.recruitinglife.com/aboutUs/TimeLine.cfm

    Even in England.. they have a great history as well In 1930 a group of employment agencies formed the London Employment Agencies Federation (LEAF) This grew and extended it’s membership outside London and eventually changed it’s name to the Employment Agencies Federation (EAF).

    Their code of practice? well it is amazing how similar it was to NAPS.

    Out of interest, I checked other Countries, Ireland, who has the National Recruitment Federation, Australia has RCSA, recruiting consulting services association, India’s Executive Recruiters Association; and of course so many more.. Yes, they are all very similar..

    So, why reinvent the wheel?

  19. Yvonne LaRose, CAC

    You have a habit of coming up with provocative as well as periodically contrarian viewpoints, Todd. I believe they would be helpful in the Ethics in Recruiting group.

  20. Yvonne LaRose, CAC

    Some interesting things you’ve been saying and showing us, Karen. In the past, you and Mendoza (not to be confused with Manaster, Maister, Lefkow, or the many other Davids among our numbers) have complained about receiving words from ‘real reacruiters.’ Your words are almost carbon copies of one another. No doubt the two of you speak in representation of quite a large number of others who have chosen to remain silent. Thus, would it be fair to say that (at least as it relates to you) you represent what a good, ethical recruiter is?

  21. Karen Mattonen C.A.C., C.S.P

    Thiking about this further, and there was something I wanted to share. Remember when I helped co-host an eeoc webinar.. well we only had two weeks to get the word out in the first one.. well, there were over 800 people signed up for it.

    We did a survey and asked several viewers feedback on both the survey, in person and at the webinar, we were able to gain information from the public

    The request for more education was defintely one of the biggest requests.. that is why we created the second webinar that had 450 people who signed up.

    Other noted points we gained was the number of recepients who admitted that they were surprised to learn of the liability to recruiters, the lack of knowledge that they or friends had, the need for more exposure of education of the industry.

    Ethics and Law go hand in hand in this industry. Simple things like respecting clients wishes and submitting candidates based upon age, sex and discriminatory issues, may seem unethical, but are obviously illegal

    So is misrepresenting employment data and information to a candidate. Lying to gain confidential information from a company – as well as misrepresenting Candidate information. Blackmailing clients to either work with you or you will recruit.. well that is obvious..

    Some things recruiters do are indeed noticed by the public, but let’s look at a couple of articles written by very noted public magazines, and not so public so you can make the decision for yourself..

    http://internet.monster.com/articles/dealmakers/ Wanted: An Honest Recruiter

    http://www.recruiter.com/magazineonline/062002_feature_perm_2.cfm ERODING ETHICS OF EXECUTIVE SEARCH (permanent feature)

    http://www.computerworld.com/careertopics/careers/recruiting/story/0,10801,46806,00.html Beware recruiters in sheep’s clothing (sorry this one is 6 years old, and may be considere data, but honestly these same tactics are still being used today.. not much has changed since then)

    http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/newsletter/OE20050913.htm Deceptive Recruiting Practices
    Readers’ Comments.

    http://www.workforce.com/archive/feature/22/22/64/index.php Fight Dirty Hiring Tactics – Unethical recruiters resort to lies, theft, and bribery to woo away your employees. Here are the tools you need to stop them

    http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/3008858/1/c_2984789?f=related okay, this is 2003, but see the similarities still? You’re Getting Jobbed by Your Search Firm

    http://www.bbb.org/alerts/article.asp?ID=268 also cross linked with the FTC; okay, though not SO terrible and article.. yet I find this interesting that considering all the industries in this world, they have one dedicated to this industry.. isn’t that something to chew on

    http://www.onrec.com/content2/news.asp?ID=12706 Call for a code of practice to stamp out ?unethical? behaviour in the resourcing sector even in Britain there is a call

    Geez the list can go on — so long, and this doesn’t include the private parties blogs, or articles.. But, I hope this helps defines why the need for this topic!

    Karen Mattonen.

  22. Steven Levy

    What surprised me in the commentary is the belief that the number of SOX related openings on Craigslist and Monster is reflective of the birth of the ethics industry. The bulk of the hiring is a result of Section 404 of the SOX Code – CFOs are creating extra layers of middle management to insulate themselves from all the work involved in creating and managing the controls. It is not a response to ethical issues in business – people cried out and Congress responded…the squeaky wheels received the grease.

    [read the following for more info on how convoluted the whole thing is and what some are doing – or suggesting – to make things better:

    http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/8433879?f=blog
    http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/8370427?f=related

    Congress created this mess as a knee-jerk reaction to a relatively small number of companies who behaved badly and as a result even the innocent ones have been forced to expend insanely large amounts of money to staff up in response to SOX 404. Thankfully, some of these oppressive statutes will receive more of a reality check and will be toned down.

    Back to the article and commentary…

    So where is the data that demonstrates that we have an ethical problem in our profession – J.D. Powers, where are you? Data, not feelings, not opinions.

    What percentage of recruiters belongs to NAPS, AESC, etc. – so we know how many have taken a blood oath to ethical behavior?

    The problem with the past year’s discussion – which BTW I consider one of the top 10 issues in recruiting for 2006 – is that it’s been pretty much the same group of people all year long. The vocal ones always get involved and the fervor generated might make the fringe folks think ‘hey, if so-and-so says there’s a problem then there must be a problem.’

    Has the discussion made people more aware of the potential for unethical behavior – maybe, maybe not. But where’s the data that demonstrates we have a problem – and not the result of protracted chest beatings?

  23. Karen Mattonen C.A.C., C.S.P

    Steve,
    Don?t know exactly what you are asking, but if you want data, maybe consider checking out some sites like AESC, and others who have done research on this topic. Check the articles written about unethical recruiters.. Look up the blogs.. there are many conversations about this, not just by recruiters, but by our clients, and candidates.. That is strong data.. That is verifiable information!

    In regards to opinion; let?s not discount opinion. It is the opinions and voices of the recruiters, the clients, and the candidates that count. This is a HOT topic, because there are many of us that recognize the need.. Data is created by opinion, by the voices.

    Data can also be recognized due to the no barrier, easy entry of this industry. That creates lack of knowledge, information, and understanding..

    Ethics is indeed a topic in EVERY professional industry.. so why not ours?
    Why should it not be an important topic? Especially when we consider what we do for a living.. the effect and impact a recruiter has on another life? And when we add the fact that there is limited education and knowledge.. with easy entry of this industry, and the sensitive nature of our work, the money involved.. what is created can be indeed can be considered Chaos..

    Yvonne, am I the ideal example of an ethical recruiter.. Well, Yvonne, I am human, but I will say, I try, every day of my life to remember to be as honest as ethical as I can be. Not to do anything that I would be embarrassed to tell my mom.. The same principles I teach my kids, and to treat another the way I would want to be!

    .. the main thing is I AM a recruiter. I know what it takes to be one, as I practice it every day in my life.. It is HOW I earn my income and pay my bills. I know the process, understand the process and IMPLEMENT the recruiting tactics on a daily basis. I know my job and have been successful at it even through several recessions. I have studied and learned from the best in this industry, and have implanting and practicing those techniques on a daily basis. Am I an expert, hmm, that can be objective and subjective, but I do know that I am very good at my job, and have over a decade of successful continuous experience, which my clients have appreciated.

    Even though I am a specialist in HVAC, I would never consider going to one of their meetings and tell them how to implement processes in their activities, because I don?t do their job, and am not facing the strives that they face every day! I would not even consider thinking about it.. and they would not appreciate it either. They know, just as I do, I could not even fathom or understand the trials they face every day!

    I close with I cannot understand why anyone would question the need for discussion of education or ethics in ANY industry, especially a professional industry like ours that has imbedded within it obligations for legal, ethical, and personal responsibility!

    This conversation is necessary, and based upon the many posts one will see on the net regarding this topic obviously the public agrees!

  24. Steven Levy

    Once again, you dance around the issue of ‘where’s the data?’.

    Now I have to take time out of my day to analyze what you’ve written…

    First, let’s look at ‘articles written by very noted public magazines, and not so public so you can make the decision for yourself.’

    1. Monster – what good and bad recruiters do: Fair enough. But how often do these bad behaviors arise? Anyone have data on it or is it as often as bad behavior in other fields? I’m by no means condoning it – just looking for a little dose of perspective.

    2. Bill Guy’s all-around-the-Internet 2002 article on a survey of ’100 Managing Directors of Cornerstone International Group’s offices around the world’: 25 issues that amounted to complaints by CEOs of client companies. Fair enough. As more customers become educated, the marketplace will little by little rid itself of bad behavior. But I again ask the question, where’s the data? Bill wrote, ‘As these firms intensely compete for market share, far too many of them cut corners in order to obtain assignments and/or fail to maintain the highest standards of performance, once they are awarded such assignments.’ Fair but where’s the data.

    3. Recruiters in Sheep’s Clothing, 2000: No issue here about things that some recruiters do. Again, how many do it?

    4. Nick C. takes his swings as Sully and Homula: 12 comments, all reasonable. Now don’t get me wrong – Nick’s a very good writer and a great marketer. But hostilities aside, how many recruiters recruit unethically? Where’s the data?

    5. Workforce – Fight Dirty Hiring Tactics, 2001: I really enjoy Workforce’s articles – receive their emails every day they’re published. Pretty much the same content our esteemed friend Kevin Wheeler used in this article. ‘Several recruiters interviewed for this story said it isn’t uncommon to pay employees thousands of dollars for copies of their companies’ phone directories, or to offer a ‘bounty’ to new hires if they bring along others from their former jobs.’ Recruiters were interviewed and said that directory selling was not uncommon – I agree. But how many? Where’s the data? (I remember John Sumser writing an article back in 1996 or so where one HR Manager complained that using x-ray, flipping, etc. techniques was like taking someone’s wallet off a table. Plain and simple, it was stealing. No standards were created to tell recruiters and sourcers what they could and could not do on the Internet yet over time companies grew wise and closed most of the doors.)

    6. Jobbed by your search firm: Great article – why I subscribe to CFO.com and it’s many newsletters. ‘To be fair, grousing about consultants has practically become the national pastime of corporate executives. And like any other services sector, you’ll find both good and bad executive placement firms. The fact is, it’s easy to run across good and bad recruiters within the same firm.’ ‘Indeed, one Chairman and CFO, Robert Williamson of CityMerch Corp., believes many job searches go awry because corporate clients simply aren’t candid about what they want. And in reality, it’s nearly impossible for a business to uncover qualified candidates for an executive level position without engaging a top search firm.’ Sure the article contains a few examples of stupid things recruiters do – and companies too – but it is more about the collaborative nature of the relationship between the company and the search firm. Again, no data.

    7. BBB. The BBB has 138 articles on a variety of businesses. We’ve been over the BBB’s data ad nauseum and if one reads the follow-ups and gets into the tables, you find that so many complaints are filed as non-issues after being investigated by the BBB. If you force me to, I’ll pull the data and show how after investigation, employment services end up being very low down on the bad list. The reason there are complaints is that in addition to bad recruiting firms (again, how many are bad versus good according to the definition of our industry expert?), many people just complain because perhaps they didn’t get the job they wanted or the level of service they believed they deserved. I’m not blaming the candidate; it’s just that without real data – you just don’t know.

    8. Emma Brierley, great idea but if you’re inviting PR folks why not be able to quote data that demonstrates how much of an issue ethical behavior is in our industry? Otherwise, it’s just self-aggrandizing chest beating – ‘See? We really do care about ethics because we now have a code!’ But no data.

    These are the kinds of articles that are picked up by the lay public as evidence that we have a pervasive problem in our industry. So many of these ‘ethical’ issues are gray areas – and use or non-use is a personal choice.

    The difference is that I do read the articles and follow-up by looking at the surveys, their details, the data collection and analysis procedures, making the calls, etc. My final stop is never at the hearsay station.

    No one EVER said that ethics shouldn’t be part of our discussions – nor that some behave badly. We all know some do. But your incessant attacks against people like Maureen the Queen – who provides more of herself in 5 minutes than any member of the recruiting community does in lifetime – on her ability to perform in ways that very few can (which is why her business is flourishing) shows me that your crusade is less about ethics than it is about self-promotion.

    To even intimate this displays a level of naivet? that is quite hard to fathom in a recruiting professional.

    To those reading this: Despite what you believe to be the case, DEMAND THE DATA. Then interpret with your own filters. A final thought – if our intuitions are so darn good, then why is the divorce rate so high?

    Remember, the truth will set you free…

    [another hour shot to hell]

  25. Karen Mattonen C.A.C., C.S.P

    Steve,

    What do you think that I am doing here! Of course I am promoting ? Advocating Education, Ethics, Values and Standards in the recruiting industry. Do you think I am doing this for my health? For 7+ Years I have been consistent with the Same Message, which we have seen by these articles these issues go back for some time. (for your reading pleasure, I only put up more recent data, but have observed articles that were older than a decade plus)

    BTW This business about you saying I am attacking people like Maureen, where have I attacked Maureen? Maureen and I have been discussing these issues on a Regular Basis.. So where is Your Data?

    Indeed, I am not attacking People, but attacking unethical PRACTICES that are harmful to the industry. Those Articles speak well for themselves, and the links were presented so that the public can make their own decisions. Personally Think that the Credence of the articles, authors, and the Publishers speak loudly enough for themselves about the public concern of this industry..

    There is an old adage that goes it only takes ONE bad apple to spoil the whole bunch!

    As the saying goes – Adages are short, but memorable sayings, based on an important fact of experience that is considered true by many people

    So, I guess, if you want statistics, speak to your clients, your candidates, and create your own!

    Please, don?t take my word for it, who am I? just a li?l ole recruiter who is just expressing her thoughts and observations from a tenure in this industry, and hearing these same horror stories from Clients and Candidates. Many recruiters and H.R on this very board have shared their same observations..

    My question to you though, is why do you seem to have such a grudge with me? Wow, it seems that everywhere I turn, there you are with a personal attack.

    Were we married once in a former life that I didn?t know about.. and gee, was the divorce that bad?

    Hope You have a Pleasant Holiday, and Your New Year is even brighter than the last.

    Karen Mattonen

  26. Jim Butler

    Steve,

    Thank you immensely for you post. I read it with great joy and hope that someone else out there understands the hyperbole associated with this topic.

    By the way, it was very clear you went out of your way to avoid ‘attacking’ anyone.

    Happy Hunting!

  27. Josie Erent

    I really felt this article was quite interesting except it really did not discuss the rather disturbing consequences that have resulted in so called unethical Behaviour. I have noticed over the past couple of years…..that some corporate recruiters have resorted to questionable hiring tactics to avoid paying a 3rd party agency fee.

    In Canada and France….Our Federal Governments have passed laws concerning Candidates Privacy. There is no mention of Privacy in this article…..which I think is critical today. It appears that The United States government is not concerned about people’s privacy….whether it is infridged upon corporate recruiters or 3rd party agencies. Some job seekers have been fired by their present employees after it has been disclosed their present intentions to leave the companies.

    There is no law against lying and cheating. However there should be laws in the United States……to ensure private information concerning applicants information be held in strictest confidence…..There should also be a time limit……..to ensure that companies……..clearly state on their website how long job applications are kept on files last…….. I am always puzzled when a company says to me …I have this applicant’s resume yet has not taken the time to contact this individual in 2 years…

    Is this ethical behaviour on part of a Corporate Recruiter whose company’s policy states they own resumes…….yet don’t even bother contacting candidates? No

    Is this ethical that a corporate company actually uses the services of a 3rd party agency to find the qualified candidate who happens to have applied to a company 2 years ago…..and is being denied the opportunity of being recognized for his/work…..Guess what? The company hires this individual? IS This UNETHICAL? No way. Is it legal? Well, I can assure you that I read every contract that is offered to me by any corporate and will simply not sign a one sided contract. I go one step further….I will refuse to work with this type of company in the future.

    Unethical behaviour may be legal but the damage to reputation will be enormous to company, employee…candidates talk to other people…other 3rd party agencies talk to other people…and advise strongly not to work with these type of companies.

    Is it ethical to ask a competitor’s key employer…insider competitive information that can compromise their existing competitive position? NO Yet it happens more frequently than we care to admit….

    Is it ethical to call references prior to having permission from the candidate receiving any formal job offer? No although most companies feel entitled to do this with or without the authorization of the applicant.

    We can certainly debate this issue till the cows come home…however the reputation of a company will suffer when it treats people badly whether they be suppliers, 3rd party agencies…….or other corporate managers….

    There has to be a clear guidelines and standards not just focussed on 3rd party agencies but corporate recruiters who are giving their company a negative reputation in the business world.It is my understanding that Corporate HR professionals do not have to be licenced in some U.S states. I was quite surprised to discover this when I in the mist of filing a complaint against an HR Manager in the State of New Jersey concerning privacy issues.

    If a company states that Talent is so important why does it continue to hire poorly qualified HR Staff? 3rd party Agencies are not the problem. This is where the problems begin.

    Josie Erent
    President
    Talented Minds
    Division of Silicon Executive Search Inc.
    416-232-0600

  28. Eamonn Coleman

    Ms Erent,

    I’ve read you recent posts and feel I must comment. I’m very sorry that your experiences with corporate HR employees have been (in almost every case it seems)negative but dont paint us all, or even most of us, with the same brush.

    Im sure that there are many unprofessional recruiters / HR staff out there but your experience (like mine) is of a very very small percentage of them. While my experiences have been mainly positive, yours have been negative so I feel obliged to offer to let you speak to some of the wonderful HR / corp recruiting folks that I know. The same goes for a large percentage of the great Third Party Recruiters I know (which in the grand scheme is but a very small percentage of the TPRs out there).

    I’m not sure that HR professionals have to be ‘licenced’ in any state, they typically must abide by professional ethics and standards protocols set out by their employer.

    Remember, before any of us generalize about ‘all’ or ‘the majority’ or ‘HR’ please remember that we as an individuals deal with a tiny percentage of folks out there.

    I hope that your next HR and corporate contacts become positive and I wish you a better 2007.

    Best Regards,

    Eamonn Coleman

  29. Karen Mattonen C.A.C., C.S.P

    As I reread this string, the more I am realizing how disturbingly amusing all of this is. Having had the wonderful opportunity to meet and discuss this industry with many of my peers, clients and candidates, what is shocking is to realize the lack of knowledge of the laws, legal requirement and how we seem to confuse our actions sometimes with ethics, and not realize how ethics and obligations intermingle both for the TPR and H.R. In this post there have been misconceptions of what is legal, not legal, re Creating legal standards that already are in existence and debating why there should be a need to understand these issues.

    In regards to lack of knowledge it is indeed disturbing at the unawareness of legal responsibility with regards to several concerns. What even is more shocking is that recruiters and companies don?t realize that if their client/ or recruiter is investigated, that the investigation can ultimately follow downhill ? fingers will be pointing at you.
    What is an applicable cause for alarm, is how many recruiters will continue to perform some of the following practices, and what I have found in my conversations is that this is mainly due to lack of knowledge or information.. not because of bad intentions, but just that they don?t realize the subsequent -

    1 Recruiters following client requests for H1 Visa, minority only candidates.. Reverse Discrimination
    2 Though laws vary from State to State, many recruiters don?t realize that there are many States that require licensing for TPR?s, and practicing w/o a license in a State that requires one can become difficult for that TPR should they ever need to get legal remedy
    3 Many States monitor or set a limit on fees and guarantees ? Yes, for Search Firms, not only Staffing or Legal refunds to the Client.
    4 Some States require that a number must be listed with a job ad, this requirement is added emphasis that there must be a job if one is advertised, as almost every State, if not all, have laws against posting fraudulent ads. . Many states have laws requiring employment agencies to keep records of the jobs they advertise. This is to make sure that all such positions are legitimate openings
    Other States require that the company disclose their name, and that they are Not the Employer in the ad This disclosure requirement gives the consumer added information before he or she pursues that job
    5 Some States require Bonding by the agency if there is going to be a fee to the candidates.
    6 Most States have laws against directing an applicant to an employer in order to obtain employment without first having obtained a bona fide order for the job – One exception to this is that an agency may direct an applicant to an employer who has previously requested that qualified applicants be sent. In the event that an applicant is referred to an employer who neither had a bona fide order for the job nor had requested that qualified applicants be sent, and the applicant does not obtain employment, the applicant is entitled to reimbursement for the travel expenses incurred within 24 hours of demanding it.
    7 ? It is a crime of assisting companies to replace employees involved in a labor dispute. Many States have law makes its unlawful for any person, firm or corporation that has ‘not been directly involved in a labor strike or lockout’ to recruit or bring in employees to help cross the strike lines.
    8 What is also interesting to note is that many recruiters don?t realize that the EEO and FCRA apply to them as well as the FTC.. and the implications that come from not abiding. Many think that because they don?t hear about the lawsuits, that these lawsuits happen rarely.. Not so! Let?s be honest, will you publicize the fact that you were sued? Would you want your clients to know and be concerned?
    9 ? it is indeed a federal crime in the U.S to lie to gain company information. Unfair competition is also indeed illegal in the U.S. Data Breach Laws are not only Federal, but are enacted In many State Jurisdictions. So be careful what you ask candidates in interviews.
    10 ? It is also illegal in most States to submit information to a client when You are aware that the information is Not accurate, and that the candidate lied.
    11 TPR?s can be held liable for contractual interference.
    12 ? Contract Recruiters are as legally responsible to uphold to the OFCCP compliance, as their ?employer?
    13 Some States like NY for example say it is illegal for licensed employment agencies to induce an applicant to terminate current employment in order to obtain other employment from the employment agency. .

    14- Many contract and independent recruiters are mis-classified so that the companies can have tax breaks, and of course if a recruiter is dealing with companies who are misclassifying their contract workers there legal responsibility can trickle down. One in seven companies misclassifies its contract workers, most without realizing it

    A -Recruiters should NOT be paid on straight commission.. WOW! Yes, that is right, recruiters are entitled to earn minimum wage like anyone else, and should be guaranteed at least 455 a week.. if they are working directly as an employee. Inside sales people MUST be compensated at the minimum One and One Half the applicable minimum wage for all hours worked if they have not reached any sales goals within three months
    There are 20 factors that are used by the IRS on a Case by Case basis.. Isn’t the law ambiguous.. Independent contractors do not have to satisfy all of the twenty common law factors. It is best to think of the factors as weights on a balance scale.
    As per the IRS
    ‘Who is an Independent Contractor?
    A general rule is that you, the payer, have the right to control or direct only the result of the work done by an independent contractor, and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result.’
    Facts that provide evidence of the degree of control and independence fall into three categories: behavioral control, financial control, and the type of relationship of the parties.
    And Yes, Many States Do require respect of the Privacy of Candidates AND Client information. Including how it is managed, handled, and distributed.
    Some states even Require that Candidates must be informed Before submittal of resume ? YES even including if their resume is on the net.. (Horror stories of candidates being submitted to sister companies, and the recruiter was not aware due to lack of knowledge, which resulted in the candidates to lose their job)

    Many of these may seem Unethical to some; others may read this and think this really isn?t a big deal.. My focus on this, is that indeed, there are so many issues we are dealing with, and this long post was just scraping the barrel of how much information there is that we in this industry should be required to know? but yet, it seems to avoid many, maybe, it is because they don?t realize the risk factor, or the expense that is associated in getting involved with these legal issue. Ignorance is not an excuse and The expensive road to the courthouse is paved with good intentions.
    It isn?t just about ethics folks, because as it has been stated earlier, ethics and law do indeed go hand in hand, especially in this industry, as there really is a fine line between the two?

    If you have questions on what your state requires or whether the agency you are dealing with conforms to the law, contact your state employment department, local Better Business Bureau, or attorney general’s office.

    Karen M

  30. Jonathan Hefferlin

    Karen -

    As usual, thank-you for keeping us informed, or per your admonishment, trying to keep us informed. But please, don’t give up on us.

    All the Best,
    Jon

  31. Yvonne LaRose, CAC

    After reading the full thread of messages, I thought perhaps there was something in Kevin’s article that I missed. So yesterday I returned to it and read through it again.

    Aside from the places where I jumped and skipped and skimmed because of time pressures, there was no point I truly missed.

    Kevin’s article discusses some common sense yet innovative ways to address employment, recruiting, and management issues in the workplace while keeping the atmosphere fair and ethical. More importantly, he talks about strategies for creating an ethical culture by using these tactics that should be one’s way of doing business in the first place.

    It is a very good article. It’s an excellent reminder of the basics we all have at our fingertips.

    Viva

  32. Dianna Rudd

    For all the noise we make that the US is so superior to other countries, it has taken a long time for a woman to get to be Speaker of the House (but at least I haven’t heard the typical ‘is she qualified’ OR ‘can a woman do that’ bull*hit.

    I view men and women as equal. There are differences but celebrate the differences! We don’t want to be exactly alike.

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