Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Does Recruiter = Slave Trader?

Well, it might in South Africa:
Parliament's labour committee head, Lumka Yengeni, yesterday lashed out at labour brokers, likening them to drug dealers and slave traders.

“Nobody wants to be labelled an exploiter but you do exploit. It is a fact and it’s the worst form of exploitation – it is slavery,” Yengeni said.

This after various labour brokers told parliament that they were key to job creation, and that they provided skills for workers at their own expense.
I can't provide comment on the goings-on within South Africa, but I can comment on the industry in Canada.  It should be obvious to anyone familiar with the industry that recruiting firms within Canada are neither slave traders nor drug dealers.  Further, there is no more of a similarity between recruiters and these disreputable industries than there is between Girl Guides and the aforementioned industries.

(In fact, since Girl Guides use children to sell their wares, and do not seem to have the same burdens of accounting as recruiting firms, you might say they're more like drug dealers than we are.  I wouldn't say that, but you might.)

This might seem like a pointless rant (and a tasteless joke at the Girl Guides' expense), but it's not, at least not entirely.  There is, often, a sense that recruiting firms are parasitic: attaching ourselves to the job market, sucking out some profit, and offering nothing in return.  Further, some recruiting firms are underhanded.  They try to manipulate the market, don't always negotiate in good faith and look for some inside information to exploit.  This doesn't mean we're evil; it just means we're like every other industry.

Moreover, we do offer value.  We offer expertise in finding jobs, interview techniques and resume writing.  We are the subject matter experts when it comes to our clients' needs and our consultants' abilities, and we're able to match these two when the individual actors might not.

Some of us even do some of these things for free.

It's very easy to ignore what we add.  In fact, when we do our jobs really well, we might be hardly noticeable.  However, to think we're dispensable is erroneous.  As Adam Smith wrote:
The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is any where directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.
We're just one such division of labour... just like everybody else.

(H/T: Rayanne.)

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