I've prided myself over the last 13 years with educating our candidates about the recrutiing process. It takes just a few moments to explain what they can expect from us and what we ask in return. It's a combination of common sense and courtesy.
This year I've seen an erosion in the industry to this. Recent case on point: the number of candidates that we're recruiting whose resumes are "out there" on the job boards and have been "spammed" to death, without their knowledge. I just got off the phone with a senior level medical professional. She had posted her resume 15 minutes ago. Yes, 15 minutes. Within the half hour of our conversation, I went to present her to one of our clients. They had ALREADY been presented with her resume. Yes, while I was actually having a conversation with her, someone else swooped in, and sent her over, without her knowledge or consent. I called the candidate back and she was astounded. This is the third person this month this has happened to. All of them are senior level managers.
I cannot compromise my ethics and work this way, but it certainly seems like nice girls are finishing last.

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This sounds way too familiar. Since the resume is -- for better or for worse -- the coin of the realm, I seldom work with candidates who have posted their's on the major job boards. Those who remain are passive candidates who must be sold on the position; much harder on the front end, but much more profitable in the long run.
I assume your client company did not like hearing this right? I can't imagine any client that I work with approving of this behavior...In the end, the clients will stop working with TPR's like the one stated above.
The process Sandra points to is very practical in scenarios where the staffing company has a relationship with a hiring manager/decision maker whom they can seek approval from to 'book a name'. In that scenario, the recommended practice makes sense.

However, if Suzanne or anyone else is working with a VMS portal (for example), sometimes conditional resume submission 'could mean' you lose the spot and can't submit a different candidate if the pending interview convinces you that the one you submitted isn't the right one (for reasons other than their having the perfect resume, which most of them might..and then you speak with them).

You could look at this experience and say that it's the natural outcome of competitive our industry has become and also how 'creative' (putting it nicely) recruiting practices have evolved to be. If the majority of hiring managers or clients do not care (I know some who might encourage the scramble, but never mind) how the battle for consented representation plays out among their staffing partners, our options are limited. If the clients do really care about our work ethics and proper representation and candidate consent or the glaring lack of it, they might put in place a rule allowing resumes to be submitted along with (for example) emails from the candidate stating disclosure and consent. This might sound too 'idealistic' to most (and it is). There are other reasons why it benefits the recruiter more to send a resume in without consent.

Reason # 1: First dibs might mean the recruiter now has complete control over the rate negotiation process and there's just no way a candidate can have access to better information (read rate) because the competition has been wiped away with one single swoop (and a clever one, if the hiring manager has agreed to play along with the process).

Reason # 2: If the candidate does not agree to work with the speedy and surreptitious recruiter for any reason, they have nowhere else to go because their resume has already been acknowledged by the client or their staffing assistant and is timestamped and is out of reach for other recruiters.

Reason # 3: Hiring managers are often loathe to intervene between feuding staffing companies over who has the 'right' to represent the ideal candidate and why. It often doesn't matter after the fact as to whom the candidate actually wishes to work with, if it is not the first mover.

On the other hand I've also worked with candidates who seem to want to play staffing companies against one another and don't care much about anything except how much you can pay them. They're a version of the 'unethical' recruiter Suzanne's experience recounts and are very much the exception.

To conclude, unless the client has specific rules guiding the representation process and discourage certain practices in writing, recruiting ethics have no partner to play with and recruiters who play by the rules are left holding whatever it is they're holding on to dearly. It's unfortunate, but it's very real.

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