Cowboy recruiters face industry sheriff

New Zealand IT employment consultants plan to clean-up their act with a new professional body and may set up a New Zealand branch of the IT Contract and Recruitment Association

“Bullying” candidates into going for certain jobs, making exclusive deals they cannot keep, advertising non-existent jobs, making up "false" salaries, sending off CVs without authority and having four consultants supposedly finding work for 1200.

Not the complaints of disgruntled jobseekers, but how New Zealand IT employment consultants accuse each other of behaving. However, they plan to clean-up their act with a new professional body. Agencies meeting in Auckland and Wellington a fortnight ago decided to look at setting up a New Zealand branch of the IT Contract and Recruitment Association (see www.itcra.com.au).

According to Auckland-based Wilson White boss Doug White the industry has its share of "cowboys and fly-by-nighters", a consequence of the ease with which agencies can be set up. "You need no qualifications and the cost of setting up is not that great,” he says.

Candle general manager Mike Hogg says Auckland has 79 employment consultants dealing in IT, many of whom are “one- or two-man bands”.

“We want to bring a level of professionalism to the industry which maybe does not exist at the moment,” says Hogg.

David Palmer at Auckland-based De Winter International says both big and small firms are guilty of “sharp practice” and there are “areas of grey” over what is ethical.

Most large operators are members of the non-specialist New Zealand Recruitment and Consultants Association (www.nzrca.com.au). However, White says while the NZRCSA has a code of ethics, “it has no teeth, is not a policeman, it cannot throw you in jail and you can thumb your nose at them”.

The ITCRA was launched in Melbourne in March amid concerns about ethics and professionalism in the Australian recruitment market. It claims 50 agency members, including the sister companies of many major New Zealand recruiters. White hopes such a body here will help the industry improve standards and weed out the cowboys. He wants membership and ethical standards to be compulsory, much as real estate agents and motor traders have to be approved members of their professional bodies.

“ITCRA will provide a more pertinent and relevent direction for us,” he says.

However, Barry O’Brien of Auckland's Enterprise agency says he sees no need for another organisation, saying the NZRCSA has “vetting standards”, and ‘teeth and rules that apply”. O'Brien concedes that some agencies do misbehave.

NZRCSA councillor Jayne Fanselow, of the Wellington-based Maxim Group, sees no problem with an another group as IT has different interests and they would work together.

Melbourne-based ITCRA head Norman Lacy says the association would also have a training, representation, and lobbying role. An inaugural meeting will be held in February.

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