Ordinarily I wouldn’t think this stuff needs explaining, but following my last blog about the government’s new Universal JobMatch job board, it’s clear from the responses that there are still a great number of misconceptions about our industry.

If you think I am stating the bleedin’ obvious, then this blog is not aimed at you. (Actually, perhaps it is especially for you)

  1. Almost anyone can advertise a job on commercial job boards.  So long as you can pay, most job boards will allow anyone purporting to be an employer or a recruitment agency to advertise vacancies.  This means no job board can honestly lay claim to having the “Best employers”.
  2. Job adverts are almost never vetted or verified. Any job advert submitted will be accepted, so long as the content of the advert does not contravene legislation governing discrimination on the grounds of sex, disability, religion or race. http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/guidance-for-employers/recruitment/   Some types of jobs, such as commission-only sales or self-employed agent positions can be rejected however, as they can make a job board appear unprofessional.  This means that the job being advertised may not actually exist.  This practise is quite common amongst recruitment agencies looking to either appear busy, or speculatively looking for candidates they can then market to employers.
  3. Most vacancies do not reveal the name or specific location of the eventual employer.  Occasionally an employer may need to recruit discreetly, but this practise is mainly because recruitment agencies do not want candidates and competitors to know who they are recruiting for.  They fear that competitors would then pursue those same clients, and candidates might apply direct to the employer, therefore depriving the initial agency of their fee.
  4. Most agencies advertising jobs, work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid for a successful placement. This means that employers can field a vacancy assignment to several agencies, and only pay the successful one. In turn this means that say 5 agencies work on the same vacancy, and each advertise it on say 5 job boards.  As the client isn’t identified, the candidate could therefore apply for the same job 25 times! 
  5. Whilst recruitment agencies are legally obliged to consult directly with a candidate before submitting their CV to an employer, this is often overlooked, in the race to deliver the CV first.  The first agency to “introduce you” to an employer for this position, is in pole position to get paid, if you get the job.  Strictly speaking, an introduction is only legitimate once they have told you the name of the employer, and gained your express permission to apply for this job on your behalf.
  6. Most job boards in the UK are part of much larger groups of job boards. These groups are in turn mainly owned by fewer than 10 large newspaper and magazine publishers.  This means that the same vacancies are often displayed across several job board brands in a group.
  7. Job board aggregators compile large search engines of current job ads on many job boards. They deliver candidate traffic, and charge for every jobseeker who clicks on an advert.
  8. Almost anyone can pay to have access to job board’s CV databases. Some job boards allow candidates to hide their personal details.  Candidates who do not, are effectively pinning their personal information to a public noticeboard (albeit one which has to be paid for).  Yes, that does mean your employer could see your CV.  Because of this, it is essential to NEVER give information which could be used for identity theft; such as passport details, drivers licence details, National Insurance Number, next of kin, names of children.  Additionally, you must NEVER share confidential information from your employers.  If your CV is almost as public as it is on LinkedIn, then consider the content accordingly.
  9. You may have heard the term “Big Data” recently, and even that companies like Facebook, Linkedin, Amazon and eBay can utilise their databases in ways that were never before possible.  This is also true of job boards, who have built an immense bank of information over the past 15 years. Data collected on advertised jobs, numbers, locations, available candidates, skills and qualification levels, industry sectors etc can now be utilised in complex mathematical models to predict countless permutations of economic scenarios.  This information is extremely valuable, and will be commoditised, if it isn’t already.
  10. Some job boards are owned by recruitment agencies themselves; Reed.co.uk being the largest.  This usually means that by registering with the job board, you are also registering with the agency, and all recruiters in that firm will have access to your details.  This is important to know, because recruitment agencies have a different set of legal obligations when it comes to dealing with you and securing your personal information.

Now whilst these 10 points may be crystal clear to those of us in the industry, it is abundantly evident that jobseekers are not so well informed.  Conversely, everyone involved in the traditional recruitment and online recruitment sectors, as well as employers themselves need to be aware that this is the case.

I believe that the online recruitment industry in the UK is the most progressive and effective than any others worldwide.  However, we do ourselves no favours by not being as open as possible to candidates about the ways in which we work.

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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