Recruitment Scam: Stop Taking Advantage of Job Seekers

Originally published on Kiki and Tea July 20th, 2015

I’ve written on here before about looking for work. I’m pretty much an expert in it, having been on contracts most of my adult life. I wanted to talk today about some disturbing habits I noticed while job seeking in around 2014 and 2015.


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.


Recruitment Scam: Stop Taking Advantage of Job Seekers


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.


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


Recruitment Scam: Stop Taking Advantage of Job Seekers


(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?


13 Replies to “Recruitment Scam: Stop Taking Advantage of Job Seekers”

  1. This sort of thing sickens me. I haven’t had his sort of behaviour, personally, but I was once bullied by a recruiter when after careful consideration I turned down a job I’d been offered in order to stay at the company I was already with. It left a very nasty taste in my mouth.

    1. I’ve seen a lot of bad behaviour from recruiters. Especially when you get a better offer and they get mad at you for taking a job you’d prefer. It does seem that they only want to have options, how dare the job seeker have more than one option to choose from?

  2. I’m so glad I’m not having to deal with this – I think it’s going to be an ongoing problem and good on you for bringing it out into the open so people know they’re not alone.

    1. Exactly this – if it was happening to me then I’m sure they tried to guilt a lot of people into buying inappropriate/irrelevant education.

  3. I had some terrible experiences with agencies when I was on Centrelink benefits and HAD to see a local job seeking agency. I know that’s a bit different to the head-hunting types but this was a shocker. The consultants I had were quite hopeless…. one was a shelf-stocker at Bunnings and then scored the gig and had no idea and completely unsuited to the role. And then another threatened me because I refused to accept a full-time job that paid less than award rate (under $18/hr). I said I’d take the job part-time but that it wouldn’t support me full time so I’d have to keep looking and the employer didn’t want to train me if that was the case. The agent told me to lie to them and then threatened to cut off my Centrelink payments. I was so upset and freaked out I called Centrelink to explain and they were horrified that I was being strongarmed and advised me the agency was NOT allowed to make such threats etc…. ugh.

    1. Oh I’ve thankfully rarely ever had to talk to a Centrelink job agency but I know what they’re like. It’s the biggest scam of taking government money and doing NOTHING for the people they are “helping”. I honestly think most of them are so useless that taking government money to for their “services” is fraud.

  4. There are so many dodgy sites and companies out there. I am always so nervous about sharing my details but it’s the nature of job hunting I guess. I always think that a big problem is that the staff who work for a lot of agencies are sales people and they only see commission.

    1. It does suck that you have to share so much personal information to job seek sometimes.

  5. Unfortunately, we rarely hear any good news stories about recruiters! It’s very sad (and wrong) that they are not helping the very people they are supposed to serve. A further overhaul of the system is definitely required. #TeamLovinLife

    1. I have done a lot of work through agencies and I can’t really think of any positive experiences. Maybe a few neutral ones…

  6. Oh gosh. How annoying!! Particularly for those who are really in need of work and are at their most vulnerable. Totally disheartening.

    1. I have no problem saying no to people but I do think it’s lecherous behaviour to people who just want a job!

  7. I got hooked up to a Centrelink employment provider that was unsuitable for me. Young. I’m 61. Inexperienced . Head hunting type. Self involved. I had no rapport wth her what so ever. Privacy is everything to me. I keep a low profile naturally. This piece of work was genuinely keen to keep up wth my progress by harrassing me during times I agreed to do advancement on my skill. Embarrassing me in front of my employer over the phone. Job I’d already had previous to being sent to this provider .
    She was LOUD. Spoke over the top of me. Threatening by TELLING me how it is.
    Setting up job interviews without consulting me,during hours I was already working.
    Forcing me to go into my email account while she looked on. In the name of God I was so stressed each time I had to deal with her. Gosh was the worst listener. Sent me for a job that clearly states heavy lifting. I hve back issues! Then demanded I ring her manager ! Obviously she wanted back up to further bully me. I was so upset I cldnt function properly the rest of the day. I had to take the afternoon off work to calm my anxiety. I’ve never not gone to work. Even when sick. I’m a deeply caring person. Work in animal rescue volunteering . I also work part time. After the upset,I commenced the process of finding another provider.
    Still can’t get over the fact that I was being forced to attend a job interview today that wld take me in the opposite direction to where I’m working by an hour’s driving! What the hell.
    This extreme pursuit y’day by this head strong no body has left me flat. No energy to defend myself any further right now. Got a big days work ahead of me today. It occurs to me that she was desperate for her Xmas bonus ,judging by her tactless ,stupid behaviour y’day.

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