Recruitment Scam: Stop Taking Advantage of Job Seekers


I’ve written on here before about looking for work. I’m pretty much an expert in it, being on contracts all the time. I wanted to talk today about some disturbing habits I noticed while job seeking.

Primarily, that it’s all about sales. To a degree, you’d think that’s reasonable. After all, job agencies have to sell themselves to employers, then recruit candidates to suit the job, and finally get commission on temporary or permanent placements.

That element of selling and the job seeker being part of a KPI to a recruitment consultant is just a part of job hunting within a certain business model.

But it can be annoying when you’re called in to register when they clearly have no work. Or the consultant calls you all the time with jobs that are totally inappropriate.

Case in point: I was once sent for an interview at a call centre, only it wasn’t described to me as a call centre. I am totally wrong for a call centre and I was thankfully in a position where I was able to reject that job – my exact words to the consultant who thought that job was good for may have been “I would be bored shitless in less than a day”; but I digress.

However, the situation with recruitment agencies has been getting progressively worse. With the proposed deregulation of Australian higher education funding, private training providers are appearing left, right and centre. Many (many) recruitment agencies are starting a training arm to their business. Now, from a business sense, I can understand this. Education and employment go very well hand in hand and there is potentially a lot of crossover in their database of interested parties.

These fairly new training providers are ramping up their sales calls and general list building activities in anticipation of new funding arrangements, if or when the deregulation passes.

The problem I have with this is that, in my personal experience, it is being done in an unethical manner. Rather than being about a real job, it’s a recruitment scam.

The first time I got a call about a “job” that ended up in a discussion about diplomas, I thought was irritating but figured that, hey, some people in the world are scammy bastards. I just kind of wrote it off in my mind.

But then it kept happening. I have been told outright by a “recruiter” that I will never get a job if I don’t undertake their diploma.

Conversations I’ve had with other job seekers have revealed that this tactic of preying on people who are looking for work with what I consider to be bullying is a sales tactic for one or more private training providers.

There are a number of factors I take issue with across this entire situation. This is all based on my personal experiences of job hunting in 2014 (though I still get some of these calls now).

Misleading candidates about their job prospects:

Frankly, it is utterly illogical for a “recruiter” to tell me I won’t get a job without their diploma. Like I wrote about in this article, I was not job hunting due to lack of skills or education. I was job hunting due to a tight job market and underemployment.

Misleading candidates about the purpose of the phone call:

Most of these sales calls start out with a discussion about a job you recently applied for. Naturally, you didn’t get it because someone else was more qualified. It then segues into a sales pitch for the diploma course they offer. Conveniently, the diploma they offer is the exact one that the successful candidate for the job had. #SarcasticWow

(Most likely) fake job ads to gain your details:

I applied for one particular job last year. Within a fairly short period of time, I received a “thanks, but no thanks” email. And that’s fine; I was used to them in a tough job market. The problem I had with this email was that the email kept going. Basically, apart from the first line or two, the entire thing was a sales pitch. It was all very casual so you kept reading; “Thanks, but no thanks. But hey, while you’re here, we also offer this amazing diploma course with this really simple payment plan”.

Non compliant emails:

I’ve received multiple emails asking me why I’m not emailing them back about their amazing diploma course offer. And there’s no option to unsubscribe. Forgive me…but aren’t people required by law to have unsubscribe links? If I can use a mail provider for my blog newsletter that offers an unsubscribe link, surely a business can meet this simple compliance requirement?

Irrelevancy of the sales pitch:

I have a bachelors degree, good work experience/history and I’m currently enrolled in a masters degree. I have a feeling this may come off as a elitist, but I’m unsure of how else to put this: what use would I have for a diploma course? If these companies have my resume then they should be able to clearly see that I work in jobs that don’t consider diplomas relevant in the recruitment process. If you’re trying to build a list and sell, why not take a targeted approach and spend your time on people for whom a diploma would up-skill and open doors for them?

Lack of control over personal details:

A resume is a fairly confidential document in my book. Take a look on job seeking websites and you’ll see job advertisements with disclaimers on them saying that by applying for the job, you may be contacted by their education sales team. There is no way to opt out of this. So you can either not apply for the job or apply and get annoying sales calls.

Why am I blogging about this? Why not make a complaint to a relevant business/government body? Frankly, I’ve gotten so many of these that it’s not worth the effort or time. I wanted to “get it out there” so that others know this goes on. But most importantly, I wanted to blog this so that other job seekers know that it’s not just them that this is happening to. Job seeking is such a solitary and stressful thing that I worry these over the top sales tactics will pressure people into spending money that they don’t need to.

Have you ever been “recruited” by a company in a recruitment scam?