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The defining characteristics of an ethical recruiter

What are the main characteristics of a truly ethical recruiter?

Most organisations claim or aspire to recruit ethically; however, if put on the spot, many recruiters and HR officers struggle to articulate what constitutes an ethical recruitment process. In an industry where consultants need to meet the needs of two separate parties with somewhat opposing motivators, what are the main characteristics of a truly ethical recruiter?

Integrity and transparency

Jobseekers and hiring organisations alike are entitled to know exactly where they stand during the process. An ethical recruiter will be the conduit for a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship between the client and the candidate, which means that the recruiter sees past the process of merely filling a role. They make the effort to really understand what both sides need and take whatever time is necessary to match the right person to the right job opportunity.

An ethical recruitment consultant also understands the need to share relevant information honestly with both parties in the process. Many recruiters make the distinction between clients and candidates; however, the level of transparency required for both is exactly the same. This means the client will have a clear picture of any applicant being put in front of them and the candidate will in turn have all the facts required to make a decision as to whether to apply for the role.

Job descriptions should be accurate and factors that might deter applicants from applying must be made clear at the start. Examples include when a role requires working unsociable hours or involves a level of personal risk.

Fairness and equality

For a recruitment firm to be considered truly ethical, it must consider all candidates equally. Obviously this means not discriminating on grounds such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion; in addition, even subtle acts of discrimination such as being swayed by a charming personality rather than the ability to do the job should be avoided during the screening process. The best practice here is to use a scoring system to assess each candidate on the same criteria and make choices based on merit.

Candidates must also be treated with respect at all stages and the recruiter must not let personal beliefs affect the way in which they handle the selection process.

Confidentiality and information sharing

Candidates, wherever possible, should be met face to face before being presented to the hiring organisation. Video calls are a good alternative when this is not possible. In all cases, documentation such as proof of the right to work in the country, qualifications and certifications should be properly checked.

An ethical recruiter should make sure that relevant information during the hiring process flows both ways. Both candidate and client should have a clear picture of one another and any feedback should be passed on accurately. Conversely, confidential information should never be shared without permission.

Building ongoing relationships

Finally, the relationship should not end once the applicant is hired. Regular feedback sessions, especially with staff on fixed term or temporary contracts, are invaluable and can be even more beneficial if the reviews are a two-way process including the client. This can highlight areas for improvement on either side and rectify them without jeopardising the placement.

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