Some ethical reflections about mining recruitment

Mining industry recruiter on phone.

Should recruiters be required to get express permission from a candidate each time they want to put them forward for a mining job?

As an industry, recruitment often gets a hard time. Our reputation isn’t quite as bad as used-car salespeople or tabloid newspaper reporters, but we’re not exactly Father Christmas either.

It’s something the founders of Mining People were well aware of when they set up the agency 25 years ago. It’s why we’ve always tried to hold ourselves to  high standards for mining industry recruitment in Australia – with a long list of core promises you can read here.

One of the common industry practices that drives us nuts (something we swore at the outset we’d never do) is the topic of our poll this month. And we want your opinion on it.

The question? Should recruiters be required to get express and recent permission from a candidate each time they want to put them forward for a mining job?

NOTE: What follows in this article, as you can imagine, could be considered “leading the witness” if this were a court of law. So if you want to take the poll unsullied, jump over to our polling centre and take the survey now.

However, if you want to hear the crazy stories we deal with all the time, and feel a little of the frustration we (and many mining job candidates) often feel, then read on!

  

A little of what we face, time and time again…

Here’s a common scenario.

We are engaged, exclusively, by a mining company to source an experienced Underground Production Engineer. Having found him or her, we undertake all the due diligence and get their express permission to represent them to the company. In doing so we openly declare:

  • Which mining company it is for
  • The site
  • The pay rate
  • The roster
  • The working environment.

By doing this we find out the candidate’s specific interest and availability for the role, so we don’t waste the mining company’s time.

So, the potential candidate agrees to let their name go forward.

Feeling pretty chuffed to have sourced a qualified and interested Underground Production Engineer, we present their resume to the mining company.

But then, unexpectedly, the company comes back (usually more or less immediately) and explains that another recruitment company submitted that same candidate a few weeks before.

Disheartened, we go back to the candidate and explain what has happened and that we cannot represent them.

The candidate’s response is usually one of amazement. This is the first they’ve heard of it. Sure, they might recall a vague conversation with a recruitment company about “looking for work”, but they didn’t give that company the express permission to represent them for that job.

Quite often the candidate promises they haven’t even engaged a recruitment agency. And we believe them!

  

Here’s another common scenario…

The assumption that the mining company will consider whoever got their candidate to them first, to be the candidate’s representative, also leads to another common problem.

Imagine this scenario:

Asked to source an Environmental Advisor, three recruitment companies find the same person.

  • Company A flicks off the resume (and the resume only) as soon as they see the candidate is active on Seek Talent Search. It arrives in the mining company’s inbox first
  • Company B sends off the resume along with an interview summary. It arrives shortly after Company A’s application
  • Company C sends off the resume, an interview summary and at least one preliminary reference check. It arrives after the applications from both companies A and B.

So, who has represented the candidate: the company that got in first or the company that has done all the work?

  

Candidate misrepresentation happens too often.

That’s not to say candidates don’t sometimes mislead recruiters (we know they do) but we also know that not all of them are leading us astray.

But some recruitment companies are, frankly, prepared to do anything to gain their commission for the minimum amount of effort possible.

Here’s a real-life example of that from just the other week.

We’d put a guy named Bill forward for a mining job. He was well-qualified, and we’d discussed the role and the company with him before getting his permission to put his name forward.

Then a day later Bill called back to ask us to withdraw his application as he’d managed to get a job elsewhere. “Brilliant!” I said, “for which company? What’s the roster for your fantastic new role?”

“Dunno,” Bill replied. “The guy from [Jack and Jill’s Recruitment Company] just said it pays this much and I can start in a week.”

Bill’s alarm bells should have been ringing loudly!

  

Don’t forget to take our poll

Situations like Bill’s, and the other examples above, are exactly why we’re asking questions about candidate representation in this month’s Mining People Media/Polling Centre poll.

Something needs to be done to ensure candidates get better representation and hirers at mining companies are reassured that recruiters are applying fair and high-quality professional processes, which will ultimately get them the best results.

  

We’d really like to hear from mining company employers as well as other recruiters and job seekers of course. We feel positive changes will occur if all parties take a bit more of an interest and demand higher standards of behavior. 

  

Hearing your opinion and experiences will help. You can take the poll here. Thank you in advance for taking part.

  

Shane Moore
General Manager – Workforce Operations & Career Services
Mining People International