Accessability Links
By continuing to use this website we will assume you are happy to receive cookies as outlined in our cookie policy
Accept Policy
Job Search
Solutions Through
Understanding

Why pay for recruitment?

Posted by: Mark Jones 13 Jun 16 - 3:42PM  | Recruitment

As a recruitment consultant that has been working globally for over 10 years and in recruitment generally for 20, I have been asked this question many times.

It is a question that we are used to being asked by our clients in relation to agency fees in the "West" but in my world - those of large international contracts, the question has a much deeper and more important resonance.  Who should pay for the cost of hiring someone into a new job; the company who hires or the candidate who is applying?

Adrian Mansfield recruiting ethicallyTo many of us the answer seems obvious; the company hiring should pick up the bill.  It would be unthinkable for a candidate in our society to expect to foot the bill of what it costs the future employer to hire them.  We apply via the appropriate channels (websites, social media, dropping a CV off) and the company selects the right person and pays them a salary when they start. Simple.

Imagine you are a jobseeker in India, Nepal, Philippines, Pakistan or any of the other global centres for migrant labour.  Local work may be available but you have the skills to work internationally.  You are told that your salary overseas will be far in excess of what you can hope to earn locally (after all who would leave their social group and security for less than they are getting now?).

Sounds great?  Better pay, and interesting work!  Then comes the catch.  In order to be eligible to apply, you need to pay $5000 to a local agent who will then pass your details to one of the international companies they recruit for, without any guarantee that the end-client will decide to hire you.

Let us put to one side for a moment that the salary and role that was offered to you before you left for your new role varies wildly from what you actually find when you get to your new company and that when you do arrive, it is more than possible that you can’t leave again without the approval of the company that now “owns” you!

Let us focus instead of the fee you paid to the agent.  Why is it needed?  In simple terms, so that the client company did not have to pay an agency a fee to hire you.  To put this in context, $5000 is well over the average annual salary in most of the countries where migrant labour is sourced.  To get this job, you will have had to pay the equivalent of around a years’ salary – a sum of money you’re unlikely to have at hand (who among us has the equivalent of that much cash at hand?).

But don’t worry if you do not have the cash to hand, that friendly agent can lend you the money in return for a fixed deduction from your contracted monthly salary, a salary that may end up being far

So now we have a situation where the migrant worker is in debt for taking the job, may not get paid anywhere near what was promised and in some cases is prevented from leaving to find better paid work or to simply go home.  In our workplace reality, this sounds like exploitation but in many parts of the world, it is common and acceptable practice.

But at least the companies are saving money, so it must be the right choice for them?  Let’s look at the potential negative commercial impact of engaging a workforce in this way.

Workers are understandably demotivated and therefore productivity is abysmal and no methods can induce people to work harder over the long term than they want to.

The company only ever has access to those desperate enough to pay for a job not the full range of skills on offer from the global markets. Given the choice who would you rather have the person with the skills you need or the person willing to go to any lengths for any job?

Demotivated staff rarely develop their skillsets so someone who comes in as a low-skilled worker will stay at that level, forcing employers to hire in higher priced staff rather than promote from within for supervisors and team leaders etc.

With the fees paid by the workers, some of the more unscrupulous agents are in a position to offer incentives to those charged with hiring large numbers of people. Opportunities for corruption are rife and the negative PR that this can generate can be catastrophic for well-known brands.

So whilst on the face of it free recruitment from an agency in a migrant-labour community might sound like a solution to good to miss, the real cost to the commercial productivity of the company as well as the personal cost to the migrant workforce is a price that I believe is not worth paying.

Why pay for recruitment?  Because if you’re not, who is??

Read more about our International Contract service and our commitment to recruiting ethically HERE

Add new comment
Type the characters you see in the picture