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Recruitment industry days are numbered in Oz

By Malcolm King - posted Friday, 28 February 2014

Australian employers are following their US and UK counterparts and giving recruitment agencies the flick, as management accountants and the unemployed toast their demise.

Employers have finally realized they can hire staff themselves or appoint internal recruiters at one tenth of the cost of the fees charged by recruitment ticks, who have fed off corporate Australia for more than 30 years.

Recruitment agencies have been making anywhere from 10-30 per cent of a candidate's annual salary and about one-third of the fee goes to the recruiter, on top of their base salary. What for? For checking out a couple of databases, placing a $400 advert on Seek and short-listing candidates. The industry is wracked with over charging, incompetency and devious practices.


This is not a story about internal HR folk who monitor workplace safety, who do the hiring and firing and ensure people are paid and who keep the organizational wheels of a business turning. This is a story about private recruitment salesmen and women, the bottom feeders of organizational life.

Think I'm exaggerating. Then read this.

That story is a rarity. The reason is that print media generally don't run negative reports on the recruitment industry is because recruiters pour millions of dollars in to their coffers with job advertisements. Even the media can smell the stench of death and are circling for the kill.

I started a professional writing business some years ago in Adelaide, specifically to fight recruiter age and race prejudice. I use propaganda and journalism skills to rewrite and format resumes so they go in to the 'must interview' pile. I've written about 800 resumes with a 70 per cent interview rate because I can out wit a recruiter.

I put the fear in to them that they might be passing up the best prospective applicant in Australia. I use the media to damage their brands when they knock back my applicants because of their age, gender or the colour of their skin. Do you know who recruiter's blame when their back's up against the wall? Employers. Talk about a plasticine spine.

Most weeks I have former or current clients ringing me up to dob in recruiters for a whole raft of scams and deceits. I always advise clients to go direct to employers but of course, recruiters still hold about 70 percent of all jobs listed – although that is falling.


How hard is it to break in to the recruitment industry? It's a little easier than breaking a fingernail. If you can sell gym memberships or work the phones in a real estate agency, you're not that far off winning the title 'Recruitment Consultant'. You don't need a degree to lie, cajole and deceive.

Until recently, recruiters in their 20s were dictating the terms to the clients. This would be fine if they actually could draw on some deep life experience or had a unique insight in to the human condition. As they have neither, most professionals are appalled and insulted.

One client in his late 40s, said two young female recruiters at a global agency in Sydney treated him like Regan and Goneril treated their Dad, King Lear. They were patronizing, hostile and devious. Where do these people come from?

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About the Author

Malcolm King is a journalist and professional writer. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University in Adelaide. He runs a writing business called Republic.

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