By Paul Phipps & Debbie Curtis

When GDPR came in to force in May 2018, we were rather hoping that a legal imperative would focus the attention of unscrupulous recruiters who send speculative CVs to prospective employers, without speaking to the candidate first, gaining right to represent and agreeing as to where they would send the CV.

Should a recruitment agency always get ‘right to represent’ from candidates and agree a list of target companies, prior to submitting the candidate’s CV?

Here at Curtis Recruitment, we say ‘yes, always’.  However, it seems that our ethical view isn’t shared by all recruitment agencies, because again, this week we have come up against a situation where an agency sent a candidate’s CV to a client, without speaking to the candidate first.  This is, as far as we are aware, a breach of GDPR and in any case unethical.

How does this affect the candidate and their chances of getting the job?

In short, this doesn’t help the candidate at all.  If the client feels that they are in the middle of a bun fight between recruiters, the temptation would be to say that they won’t call the candidate for interview and this is an opportunity lost for them.

We often find ourselves in this position.  We have fully briefed a candidate on a role, the job spec and company details are given, and the candidate’s resume is passed to the client .  The client then tells us that the CV has already been submitted for the job, yet the candidate was totally unaware of this job until our conversation and they may miss out on the opportunity to interview for this role due to agency politics getting in the way of their career.

It seems to us that there are ‘shark recruiters’ out there who are more interested in fees than the candidate’s career and the fact that they don’t speak to the candidate before sending the CV, means that they don’t get to know them and their requirements, which, in the long run, isn’t conducive to finding the right role for the candidate.

How does this situation arise?

Recruiters pay for CV database searches on job boards and a decent recruiter will call the candidate and gain right to represent, before submitting the CV for any vacancies discussed.  Conversely, unscrupulous recruiters will download the CV and send it to a client giving the impression that they have spoken to and registered the candidate and discussed the role, where in fact, they haven’t.

Agencies should comply to data protection and good business models and not spam CVs, in our humble opinion, and not only does this not reflect well on recruiters, it can also be detrimental to the candidate’s job search and waste the client’s time.

How does an ethical recruiter deal with unscrupulous recruiters sending CVs without a candidate’s consent?

There have been occasions when we have offered to walk away in favour of the candidate and client getting what they want.  A good analogy for this is the story from the Hebrew Bible of the Judgement of Solomon.

In the story, two women both claim to be the mother of a baby and King Solomon suggests that the baby be cut in half and the women have half each.  He was able to ascertain who was the true mother because the real mother would rather the baby go to the rival than be cut it in half, whereas the would-be baby thief was quite happy with the proposal.

Recruitment is hard enough and having an unlevel playing field makes our job more difficult and very frustrating.  This not only affects us as recruiters but can also prove detrimental to candidates and clients.

We welcome your thoughts and comments: are we the only recruitment agency that feels strongly on this matter?

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