Why We’ll Never Work With Search Consultancy Again

Recruitment agencies; you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. They’re either the meddling middlemen who serve no real purpose other than to provide you with a piece of paper in exchange for a large fee or they’re a genuinely useful source for potential employees.

Either way, it’s fair to say that recruitment consultants now stand proudly alongside the likes of estate agents and journalists on the list of professions that a lot of people feel a sense of distrust and wariness towards.

Unfair? Perhaps – it is, after all, the unscrupulous actions of a few that reflect on the recruitment industry as a whole. But when you’ve just had the sort of experience with a recruitment agency we’ve had this week, it’s a hard perception to shake off.

At this point, we’d recommend you go and make yourself a brew and get cosy, because the following story is somewhat confusing and downright jaw-dropping in it’s audacity. Seriously, it’s got more twists than that movie Inception.

You’re probably aware that we’re currently looking to expand our SEO team and as with any vacancy we post, we’ve received a lot of calls  and contact from agencies offering the services of various clients currently on their books. Although these calls can sometimes be incredibly irritating, there are times when they can turn up a decent looking candidate, as was the case when we contacted this week by a certain recruitment agency we’re definitely not going to name.

Anyway, a consultant from Search Consultancy (oops!) got in touch with us this week offering us a candidate with a quite impressive CV; impressive enough, in fact, for us to arrange an interview with the said candidate. We were even told on the phone by the aforementioned consultant that this guy was currently being interviewed for another role at a top Manchester agency.

Which is all well and good, except at the same time our good friend from Search Consultancy was also pitching another role at a top Manchester agency to one of our own SEO team. A person he learned about through talking to us about setting up an interview with his client. So obviously after our call, he dashed off to LinkedIn and went about working his…erm, magic.

Why would he do such a dastardly thing, you ask? Well, recruitment agencies demand a pretty large fee for their services – it can be as high as 25% of a salary. Our mate was basically trying to play us in order to make himself some big bucks; by taking on his client (giving him a big fee) and tempting one of our team away somewhere else (giving him another big fee), he stood to make a hell of a lot of money.

Unfortunately, our pal didn’t account for the fact that hell hath no fury like Fluid scorned so instead of a plentiful bounty, we’re going to name and shame him instead. You’re welcome, Shay.

Here’s a screenshot of Shay Patel trying to tap up our guy on LinkedIn, taken a couple of days ago, as evidence:

Shay Patel
Often, when these kind of dodgy practices get exposed, agencies are quick to blame them on employees gone rogue who have since left the company. However, you may have noticed from those screenshots that Shay isn’t a lowly recruitment consultant trying to make a quick buck; he’s the big boss of Search Consultancy’s Digital Recruitment arm! That suggests this is actually quite a widespread and (worryingly) encouraged practice in some parts of the recruitment industry.

There’s nothing technically illegal about what Shay was doing but come on; surely blatantly trying to play employers for your own financial gain is unethical? It’s another sad indictment of the recruitment industry, which is one of the fastest growing in the world, but relies on thousands of desperate graduates looking for jobs, forces them to hit huge targets and then wonders why they try and take these damaging short cuts. We almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

It’s not as if this is an isolated incident either; Simon Wharton at PushOn posted a pretty epic rant about his own recruitment woes a few years ago which is a good read and one we’re sure a lot of people will able to relate to.

You don’t have to look far to find a good recruitment horror story either; just this morning, one of our team told us all about the time he was offered a job by a recruitment consultant which would have been fine…except it was his own job.

So what’s the moral of this story? Firstly, recruitment agencies can be a right tricky bunch and a lot of them are more than willing to play employers in order to catch a quick buck. Secondly, a lot of recruitment agencies need to seriously buck their ideas up if they want to continue working with the lifeblood of their business – the employers.

Oh yeah, the real kick in the balls? Shay actually invited us out for a beer after all this! Thanks Shay…but no thanks.

Lee Turner
  • Written by on 2nd November 2012 at 08:45
  • “Lee Turner is the founder, owner and managing director of Fluid Creativity.”
  • Google+
  • Jan Dixon

    Well done Lee. Good work. It’s difficult enough for recruiters without the likes of this guy pulling a fast one (or two)!

  • Jan Dixon

    Well done Lee. Good work. It’s difficult enough for recruiters without the likes of this guy pulling a fast one (or two)!

  • dansk

    I can see why you have some beef with this recruiter as from
    your perspective, what he has done is give with one hand whilst taketh with the
    other. How dare he bite the hand that feeds him!, what a fool! I don’t
    think it is fair to tar all recruiters with the same brush though. I am not condoning what he has done as to be honest he has operated with a rather blunt instrument that has left a nasty
    wound, hence your beef.

    Recruiters have a very difficult job and they provide a service to clients that has high value when there is a constant scrap for the best skills. It pains me though to see
    a recruiter bumbling his job and not taking the time to build strong relationships based on trust and reputation and this one has come back and bitten Shay right on his arse in front of everyone that really matters to him. I have no doubt he cares very much
    about his career and his job and he was simply acting in good faith for anumber of clients that he is working on behalf of.

    I bet you poor old Shay is having a bad day or weekend or week right now because of this. It may even ruin his career should he not have the mental strength/reputation to deal with such exposure in this niche market. If one of my staff had acted in such a way then I would come down very hard on them and point out to them that if they carry on, then they run a real risk of developing a shocking reputation and becoming a victim of the sector they are actually trying to serve.

    This blog is a very useful tool for recruiters if they are wanting to see how poor practice effects our reputation and how quickly a bad situation gets worse but I can’t help feeling a little sorry for poor old Shay as I am sure that he didn’t mean to upset anyone and it was probably a naivety that he now very much regrets.

    I know for a fact that many recruiters will just say he was doing his job and this is completely unjustified however I personally don’t agree with that as at the end of the day, it is
    your perception that Recruiters are a shocking bunch of scoundrels and carry on such as this does us no favours.

    At the same time though, we are not all a bunch of scoundrels and every industry has its elements of bad practice be it Unethical Bankers in Finance, Corrupt policemen, Keyboard Journalistic Warriors or Selfish, quick buck recruiters. These are a minority and the best drive the best to get better so let’s hope this blog has a positive effect on poor old Shay and it isn’t a simple name and shame exercise.

  • dansk

    I can see why you have some beef with this recruiter as from
    your perspective, what he has done is give with one hand whilst taketh with the
    other. How dare he bite the hand that feeds him!, what a fool! I don’t
    think it is fair to tar all recruiters with the same brush though. I am not condoning what he has done as to be honest he has operated with a rather blunt instrument that has left a nasty
    wound, hence your beef.

    Recruiters have a very difficult job and they provide a service to clients that has high value when there is a constant scrap for the best skills. It pains me though to see
    a recruiter bumbling his job and not taking the time to build strong relationships based on trust and reputation and this one has come back and bitten Shay right on his arse in front of everyone that really matters to him. I have no doubt he cares very much
    about his career and his job and he was simply acting in good faith for anumber of clients that he is working on behalf of.

    I bet you poor old Shay is having a bad day or weekend or week right now because of this. It may even ruin his career should he not have the mental strength/reputation to deal with such exposure in this niche market. If one of my staff had acted in such a way then I would come down very hard on them and point out to them that if they carry on, then they run a real risk of developing a shocking reputation and becoming a victim of the sector they are actually trying to serve.

    This blog is a very useful tool for recruiters if they are wanting to see how poor practice effects our reputation and how quickly a bad situation gets worse but I can’t help feeling a little sorry for poor old Shay as I am sure that he didn’t mean to upset anyone and it was probably a naivety that he now very much regrets.

    I know for a fact that many recruiters will just say he was doing his job and this is completely unjustified however I personally don’t agree with that as at the end of the day, it is
    your perception that Recruiters are a shocking bunch of scoundrels and carry on such as this does us no favours.

    At the same time though, we are not all a bunch of scoundrels and every industry has its elements of bad practice be it Unethical Bankers in Finance, Corrupt policemen, Keyboard Journalistic Warriors or Selfish, quick buck recruiters. These are a minority and the best drive the best to get better so let’s hope this blog has a positive effect on poor old Shay and it isn’t a simple name and shame exercise.

  • Bill

    This is shocking and disturbing but please don’t tar us all with the same brush. I love my job and take great pride in finding the best talent for my clients.

  • Bill

    This is shocking and disturbing but please don’t tar us all with the same brush. I love my job and take great pride in finding the best talent for my clients.

  • Craig Ruff

    Lee – Agree that this is terrible behavior and well done for naming and shaming. I just hope that you’ll also be able to see where you and the team at Fluid might be able to close down issues of this nature in the future. Rather than just allowing all and sundry to submit speculative CV’s, why not consider partnering with a reputable search consultancy and giving them exclusivity (No doubt you ask your clients for this as you’re also an agency, albeit creative rather than recruitment) Exclusivity can bring huge benefits – lower fees, quicker time to hire and all backed up with useful market intelligence which you can use in future to drive hiring decisions. Most reputable search companies would enter a no-poach agreement, but only for exclusivity and repeat business.

    In my opinion, you need to apply the things you would like from your clients (Partnerships, exclusivity, consultative way of working etc) to agencies supplying your business as this enables you to get more from them whilst mitigating such risks.

    Good luck.

  • Craig Ruff

    Lee – Agree that this is terrible behavior and well done for naming and shaming. I just hope that you’ll also be able to see where you and the team at Fluid might be able to close down issues of this nature in the future. Rather than just allowing all and sundry to submit speculative CV’s, why not consider partnering with a reputable search consultancy and giving them exclusivity (No doubt you ask your clients for this as you’re also an agency, albeit creative rather than recruitment) Exclusivity can bring huge benefits – lower fees, quicker time to hire and all backed up with useful market intelligence which you can use in future to drive hiring decisions. Most reputable search companies would enter a no-poach agreement, but only for exclusivity and repeat business.

    In my opinion, you need to apply the things you would like from your clients (Partnerships, exclusivity, consultative way of working etc) to agencies supplying your business as this enables you to get more from them whilst mitigating such risks.

    Good luck.

  • jim

    This Shay Patel is a prick thanks for exposing him

  • jim

    This Shay Patel is a prick thanks for exposing him

  • Paul S

    Lee – a very informative post to expose business practices which are regularly employed by cowboy “consultants”. As someone who has a wrath of experience within the recruitment industry from both sides of the fence I have an acute understanding of where you’re coming from. I’m aware of a number of individuals who work for Search Consultancy at a senior level and I’m aware it is a sinking ship, particularly in Scotland where I’ve heard there are various “dodgy dealings” going down and financial pressures are obviously cascading down from the powers that be to the consultants at the coal face. I believe they even changed their salary payment dates as part of a tax avoidance scheme!! The sooner these chaps disappear the better in my opinion.

  • Paul S

    Lee – a very informative post to expose business practices which are regularly employed by cowboy “consultants”. As someone who has a wrath of experience within the recruitment industry from both sides of the fence I have an acute understanding of where you’re coming from. I’m aware of a number of individuals who work for Search Consultancy at a senior level and I’m aware it is a sinking ship, particularly in Scotland where I’ve heard there are various “dodgy dealings” going down and financial pressures are obviously cascading down from the powers that be to the consultants at the coal face. I believe they even changed their salary payment dates as part of a tax avoidance scheme!! The sooner these chaps disappear the better in my opinion.

  • Craig Mincher

    I am a recruitment consultant that will go as far in saying that i don’t particularly like recruitment consultants all that much. The above example is a brilliant indication of why consultants are now in the dreaded group alongside estate agents and car salesman. A lack of ethics and no interest in building relationships is a sure fire way to fail in the industry. It is often easy to see such consultants, they will have 5 or 6 agencies on their CV in a very short time.

    The majority(ish) of consultants work hard, very hard and long hours to be an effective middleman, balancing the needs of client and candidate alike and trying to get the process to move as efficiently and quickly as possible, for both parties and genuinely enjoy finding work for people, especially in difficult economic times.

    However, when there is a large financial carrot being dangled, this brings out the worst in human nature.

    Naming and shaming occurs often within the industry also, when particularly bad practices become apparent the names are often cascaded around the industry, especially with the rise of social media, which is brilliant. We are also not immune, Rec-Rec recruitment (recruitment of experienced consultants) is an extremely shady business.

    This is not a sales pitch to advocate my services merely guidance. When you find an agent that you believe you can trust and is effective, cling to them for dear life. A good consultant can save businesses money in the long term and reduce much of the stress from the process, especially when the needed hires are business critical.
    No consultant can fill every role, if you are told this then walk/run away. A good one won’t promise you the world, but will give you an effective and consultative service and should know better than to aproach a clients employees. Testrun an agency, give them a vacancy (if your current set aren’t fulfilling it) if they prove themselves then bring them on board and get rid of the chaff. Companies often cling to their PSL (preferred suppliers) becomes they have become familiar with them and not because they are particularly effective.

    Good luck with your future recruitment and I hope you find a trusted few consultants that will make up for the joyous few like Shay.

    Craig

  • Craig Mincher

    I am a recruitment consultant that will go as far in saying that i don’t particularly like recruitment consultants all that much. The above example is a brilliant indication of why consultants are now in the dreaded group alongside estate agents and car salesman. A lack of ethics and no interest in building relationships is a sure fire way to fail in the industry. It is often easy to see such consultants, they will have 5 or 6 agencies on their CV in a very short time.

    The majority(ish) of consultants work hard, very hard and long hours to be an effective middleman, balancing the needs of client and candidate alike and trying to get the process to move as efficiently and quickly as possible, for both parties and genuinely enjoy finding work for people, especially in difficult economic times.

    However, when there is a large financial carrot being dangled, this brings out the worst in human nature.

    Naming and shaming occurs often within the industry also, when particularly bad practices become apparent the names are often cascaded around the industry, especially with the rise of social media, which is brilliant. We are also not immune, Rec-Rec recruitment (recruitment of experienced consultants) is an extremely shady business.

    This is not a sales pitch to advocate my services merely guidance. When you find an agent that you believe you can trust and is effective, cling to them for dear life. A good consultant can save businesses money in the long term and reduce much of the stress from the process, especially when the needed hires are business critical.
    No consultant can fill every role, if you are told this then walk/run away. A good one won’t promise you the world, but will give you an effective and consultative service and should know better than to aproach a clients employees. Testrun an agency, give them a vacancy (if your current set aren’t fulfilling it) if they prove themselves then bring them on board and get rid of the chaff. Companies often cling to their PSL (preferred suppliers) becomes they have become familiar with them and not because they are particularly effective.

    Good luck with your future recruitment and I hope you find a trusted few consultants that will make up for the joyous few like Shay.

    Craig

  • An ethical Consultant Sharon

    I think its very unfair that you are slating search consultancy. Its clearly the individual at fault here not the company.

  • An ethical Consultant Sharon

    I think its very unfair that you are slating search consultancy. Its clearly the individual at fault here not the company.

  • Matthew

    We must remember that such practices are unethical but are a sad consequence of the pay on placement culture agencies have to participate in. Often they compete against numerous recruiters for a fee which makes them desperate if the role is senior it is much better to hire retained recruiters as their model is geared to finding the right person not just finding any candidate. You also get an off limits policy with head hunters.

  • Matthew

    We must remember that such practices are unethical but are a sad consequence of the pay on placement culture agencies have to participate in. Often they compete against numerous recruiters for a fee which makes them desperate if the role is senior it is much better to hire retained recruiters as their model is geared to finding the right person not just finding any candidate. You also get an off limits policy with head hunters.

  • John Wesley Harding

    I work through Search at the moment and have told them I am disatisfied with position I hold at present. I was told if I wanted to pursue another position, they would have to inform my present employer that I had approached them, Search, requesting another position. Is this standard practise for recruitment agancies?

  • John Wesley Harding

    I work through Search at the moment and have told them I am disatisfied with position I hold at present. I was told if I wanted to pursue another position, they would have to inform my present employer that I had approached them, Search, requesting another position. Is this standard practise for recruitment agancies?