How to be an Ethical Recruiter | Recruitment Strategies

We all like to think ourselves as beacons of virtue. But is that how the rest of the world sees us?

Questions of ethics are high on the agenda right now. Whether it’s autocratic governments, correct adherence to covid restrictions, or the money in football clubs, authority is under the microscope.

And ethics have always been vitally important in the hiring space and the employment market. You – as a recruiter – may not feel as though you hold a position of power or authority, much of the time. But to a job seeker – or even your clients – the recruiter is most definitely in an influential role. How you choose to wield that influence is very much up to you. And it is those choices which will define your moral standing. And that moral standing can have a direct bearing on your business success story.

So: are you an ethical recruiter? Let’s find out.

Stop ghosting

Recruiting is an end-to-end service. But if you aren’t giving aftercare more than a cursory consideration, there’s a risk you’re an unethical recruiter.

Aftercare for successful placements means a follow-up interview during their onboarding, and afterwards. Your new placements can provide honest, on-the-ground insights of their new workplace which you would never get directly from clients. This gives you a better understanding of companies and processes. It can also help to explain why previous candidates dropped out or didn’t make the grade. But most of all, this attention to detail will set you apart from the rest in your candidate’s eyes.

But aftercare for your success stories is relatively easy. It becomes doubly important when your candidate does not make the grade. Fair to say that, if you or your agency is ghosting failed applicants, you are most definitely unethical. But this practice is rare among recruiters.

Sadly, ghosting is still commonplace among employers (just check the hashtag on any social platform for cases). Some of these will be your clients. And – yes – they will think they have valid reasons: too busy; cannot justify the expense. It’s your job to change that culture. An ethical recruiter is one who is quick to take on the role of ghostbuster in these situations. Chase up on clients who do not offer feedback to – or even confirmation of – a failed application. Usually, a simple reminder or prompt is all that is needed. When the client still fails to rematerialise, take on the role of intermediary: learn from them why your candidate didn’t make it. Feed that information back to your talent with an exit interview. By taking on the role of both client and candidate, you bridge the gap and provide the illusion of a healthy process.

Don’t choose ill-suited candidates

Recruiters fight every day to hit recruitment KPIs. Working, as many recruiters do, for a commission-based salary, there is a natural inclination towards quantity over quality. This can mean putting forward a candidate that you suspect is unsuitable, just to have a horse in the race.

Even if this is not how you operate today, there is a fair chance that it’s a familiar picture from your early days in recruiting. The best advice? Stop that, right now.

As tempting as it may be to get a name onto a client’s interview list, take a step back. Does your applicant have any realistic prospect of becoming a long-term hire for that permanent position? Or will your candidate really appreciate that temping role when they’re desperate for a stable job? Forcing ill-fitting or unsuitable candidates into placements which they are not cut out for is silently ruining your business prospects. A bad sale is a bigger long-term loss than no sale at all.

Source your talent fairly

Sourcing fresh talent is a talent in itself. And social platforms have really opened up the previously mysterious recruiters’ art of talent scouting, headhunting and pipeline creation. But this technology has proved a double-edged sword. While it has simplified talent-spotting and initial introductions, it has also generated exponentially greater competition, too. It has made the recruitment game faster than ever. It has simplified – or made obsolete – a ton of admin and paperwork. But there is still room to be ethical in the digital world of talent spotting.

Some good rules to live by? Do the legwork. Trawl through linkedin data pools of relevant fields. Find the obvious, easy-to-spot candidates, but also the harder-to-find profiles. Engage with real people in real discussions on Twitter, or Facebook (or ‘Meta’, as it’s now called). Always leave your personal opinions or expectations at the door / login screen. Don’t poach other recruiters’ lists or prospects if they appear to be actively talent-seeking in a public forum or thread. And make sure that people you approach are comfortable with being approached first, before making an offer. Do all this, an you’re an ethical recruiter.

Be responsible with your Data

Ethics in the twenty first century stretch to responsibility over other people’s data. As a recruiter, you’re working in a data-rich environment. That data belongs to you; but it isn’t about you. Names, addresses, work and education history. You hold personal data which the subject would not wish to become publicly accessible.

This puts you in a position of responsibility. Refusing to acknowledge that responsibility makes you unethical. But what steps should you take?

Let’s be clear: you cannot keep candidate data on a spreadsheet saved to your desktop or the cloud. Data security does not just mean securing it from theft of leakage. In the eyes of all data laws, accidental loss or deletion is just as bad as a public leak of data.

Ours is a joined up world, with connected responsibilities – but also interconnected solutions. Cloud services, like eBoss, are the simplest, fastest, and best value recruitment database for storing and protect your business data. It no longer pays to cut corners and take risks, as the stakes are too high.

Listen to feedback

It is not an easy question to answer: “Am I ethical?” With very few exceptions, most people don’t actually wake up and choose evil. Just like in the movies, the most effective bad guy is the one who thinks their bad actions are justifiable. So too can we let bad habits creep into our everyday life, if they go unchecked.

That is probably our first lesson, then. A little self-reflection. And in the digital age, there is almost endless scope for self-evaluation and critiquing. We call them review sites.

Review sites are some of the very best ways to assess how you are perceived by the wider world. As an employer, you have Glassdoor, to see how former and current employees felt about working for you.

As a service, you can see how clients feel about you from comparison websites like Trustpilot, softwaresuggest, and Capterra.

But be warned, checking reviews sites can become a compulsion for any business owner. This is especially true if you get hit with one or two negative comments. You may have the urge to respond to (or worse – argue with) every negative review you receive. Our advice: don’t. That’s a rabbit hole you don’t want to fall down.