Outsourcing Recruitment

The recruitment agencies are now being off-shored as well. As if the local “professional” recruiters weren’t bad enough, contractors are now getting cold-called from off-shoring telesales trying to put us in jobs where the “consultancy” company gets to skim a 50% mark-up from our earnings.

Take Indian giants HCL, for example. Who charge their banking clients in Switzerland around $1200 a day for every IT professional they “place”, but who do nothing more than out-source the recruitment back to a local recruitment agency, but only offering $600, leaving maybe $400 for the contractor once the agency has skimmed “their” share. HCL take more than $500 per day per person for doing nothing at all. Easy money.

There are contractors now doing the same jobs they were doing five years ago, but only getting paid half the money for it – even though the end-customer, the banks, are actually paying more for contractors now than they did five years ago. Recruitment agents, naturally, don’t see anything wrong in this. They still get their skim of $150-200 per day from every contractor, and as if they could care that they are not paying the guys who actually do the work enough to live on. Believe me, in Switzerland $400 “all-in” is insufficient. As far as some recruitment agents are concerned, and I have been told this personally, “$400 is enough for someone if they live at home with their mum and dad“. The job requires a college degree and a fair bit of experience, and recruiters seem to think parents should continue subsidizing their adult children throughout their professional careers – if that’s what it takes to keep a recruiter in her job.

Is there any point in studying for a professional career if you’re not going to be paid enough to leave your parent’s home? But I don’t think your average recruitment agent is wired to think in terms of long-term consequences, do you?

So, in many ways it is good to see the off-shoring of recruitment, and its not as if the levels of agency-spam is going to change. Personally if I am going to be cold-called by a commission-paid middle-man trying to hard-sell me a crap job that pays peanuts I would prefer them to be off-shored. At least I will never have the misfortune of actually meeting them in person.

I received such a call yesterday, from the Ukraine. The agency is a European one with off-shored tele-sales. The proficiency in English was woefully inadequate and I was in the car so wasn’t interested in talking to them anyway. So I asked the lady to send me the details in an email and I’d “get back to her”.

sales: Can you give me your email address, Mr InsideJobber?
IJ: You already have it.
sales: I don’t have your email address, sorry.
IJ: Then how did you get my ‘phone number?
sales: Your number is on your CV.
IJ: So is my email address.
sales: I don’t see it. It’s not there.
IJ: How did you get my CV?
sales: In email.
IJ: Who from?
sales: A Mr. InsideJobber.
IJ: Then send the mail to him.

She did actually manage to send an email, and to the correct address. So fair play, not entirely useless. She goes under the job-title, “Sales Manager” which sounds impressive but it’s unlikely such a job off-shored to cheap-labour would have a corresponding managerial-sized salary attached to it. She got my name totally wrong in her email salutation though. To paraphrase it, how does “Hi Mr Sobberjob” gel with the thrust of the conversation shown above? You spend several sentences establishing who you are talking to, then still get the name wrong.

Still, if overpaid local recruiters are to be replaced by such people that can only be a good thing. The unemployed recruiter, unaware of the irony of her own situation, will soon find out how useful she is when she has to find a new job for herself in today’s unforgiving economic climate – or she can go back to live with her mum, just as she expects us contractors to.

Whatever she does, receiving sympathy from contractors is not going to be a part of it. Our jobs will still need doing with or without the current charade that masquerades as “recruitment”.

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