Headhunter rules aim to end sharp practice

A code of practice for recruitment agencies has been launched which should stamp out the much-reviled practice of headhunters poaching staff they have previously placed with an employer.

Twigg: director of 77PR
Twigg: director of 77PR

The new rules are now compulsory for all members of the Media, Marketing and Communication Group – part of recruiters’ trade body Recruitment & Emp­loyment Confederation. Twelve companies, including JFL, have already signed up.

Kinross and Render CEO Sara Render welcomed the move as a commitment to good practice, but added  that there should be a ‘total ban’ on recruiters headhunting staff they have already placed.

Alan Twigg, director of 77PR, said: ‘I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a headhunter say that a PRO is “virtually with another agency, but I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss and managed to talk them in to seeing you.”’

But some observers have questioned whether the code will be effective.

Lynn Beaumont, managing director of The Foundry, argues that there is no need for it. ‘I am not sure that a code of conduct will change people’s behaviour’, she said. ‘Some practitoners think they can wrap themselves up in a code of practice to give themselves a veneer of morality that doesn’t always exist. We won’t be signing up’, she added.

The Media, Marketing and Communication Group was set up in January by ­Emma Brierley, CEO of Xchangeteam. The move followed a letter to PRWeek (17 March 2006) complaining about unethical practice in the recruitment industry.

Selected code clauses...

- Recruitment agencies should not attempt to poach any candidate that they have previously placed with an employer

- Recruitment agencies should not send candidates for interviews if they have already accepted a position, unless the candidate wants to be put forward for further interviews

- Recruitment agencies should gain the agreement of candidates about to which companies their CVs are sent



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