Recently there’s been much internet chatter about recruitment agencies placing fake ads to attract candidates and then pitch those resumes to unwitting clients.  You might guess that often results in candidates being presented to clients without the candidate’s’ knowledge or consent – which probably isn’t going to end well.  I’ve thought a lot about it and one of the questions I have is: why would a company accept resumes from a recruitment agency that they have probably never worked with before, and that can’t vouch for its candidates?  The agency hasn’t seen the candidates, or interviewed them, or rigorously assessed them against a clear job brief.  Surely the hiring company is also to blame since they are complicit with the agency?  Shouldn’t the hiring company insist on higher standards?

We operate on that higher plane.  All of our candidates are sourced by us, seen by us, assessed by us and presented by us to a real client who has paid us to do that work.  That is why, if we are interested in a candidate, we can furnish a job description (sometimes re-written so as to protect the client’s confidentiality).  And, should the candidate be selected for the shortlist, we can tell him/her exactly who the client is and what to expect.

The flip side sometimes comes from clients themselves.  I had a conversation recently with a multinational travel company – a well-known internet portal – that plans to recruit four people in three nearby countries.  When I asked about exclusivity I was told breezily that they want to go as wide as possible to many recruiters.  So that company is actively encouraging any Tom, Dick and Harry out there to contact (or maybe not bother to contact) as many candidates as possible and submit them for review – all to hire four people.  If this isn’t as egregious as placing fake ads then please tell me.  Show me how it benefits the job market to have multiple agencies contacting perhaps hundreds of people (many of them likely the same people) via email and phone, submitting their resumes – hoping to be selected – and then nothing.  For four jobs.  In three countries.

No sour grapes here: I don’t care what that company does.  It isn’t going to close down because I told them to get lost.  But those searches are something that we could have handled quickly, professionally and successfully – without wasting hundreds of people’s time.  Next time you’re complaining about fake ads and shabby recruiters, bear in mind that there are companies actively encouraging that kind of wasteful activity.  Perhaps you work for one of them.

As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.

Gary Woollacott is an executive search consultant who works for Horton International in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.  He can be reached at +84 8 3910 7682 or via