The HR Forum

Hi Everyone, 

Just after opinions really....

We started using a new recruitment agency recently and one of our Managers (who is actively recruiting with them) was approached by them on LinkedIn trying to poach her for another of their clients. Also, we've had a resignation from someone else in that team (non-manager) and they've told us that the same agency approached them about their new role (rather than them applying for it).

I know that agencies have to do an element of headhunting to find suitable candidates (especially in the current climate), but to me, contacting staff (and managers) from one of their clients so they can place them elsewhere (and get the vacancy to back-fill) just seems unprofessional and unethical. 

Has anyone experienced anything like this? 

Am I overreacting or justified?? 

Need to know how to approach them about it!

Thanks in advance.


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  • Hi Everyone,

    Thanks so much for all the replies and advice. 

    I used to work in recruitment myself and never would have dreamed of calling people who worked for one of my clients - good to know that wasn't just me!  I emailed the Director of the business to withdraw our business - she apologised for her 'oversight' but didn't try and keep our business....I'm sure she'll know just actively try and poach all our staff since there's no longer a client/supplier relationship, but I'd rather fight to keep our people than work with an unethical agency which gives all the good ones a bad name!

    Thanks again


  • Hello Becky

    I'd consider this unethical and unprofessional and justified in your appraisal of the situation.  Perhaps a conversation with their senior partner or owner of the business would be in order?

    Regards, Johan

  • Hi Becky,

    Having worked in recruitment myself I have seen this happen a number of times. It is not something I would ever be comfortable doing as I feel it can seriously damage relationships. Unfortunately it is difficult to prevent. A lot of agencies only care about making the placements and getting their fee, without really considering the clients and candidates involved.

    It is good that your staff have been honest about the approach to them as I believe it shows they have a loyalty to the company to make you aware of what is happening. I believe that contingency recruitment (no placement, no fee) is always going to have this problem though as companies have to try and work on as many roles as possible as the chances are they will only fill 50% of them, if that!

    A lot of the better recruitment agencies are now moving over to retained recruitment. This means that their clients will pay part of fee up front and the remainder when the position has been filled. With this method you find that the agencies that are working on your vacancies will be a lot more focused and dedicated in finding the candidates as they will probably working on a fewer amount of roles at any one time. 

    Overall with recruitment, there are so many companies out there now that it is difficult to differentiate between the good and the bad agencies. If you find the right agency who goes about things in the correct and ethical way than they can add great value to any business.


    • Totally agree with this Mark. When I worked in recruitment we had set contracts with ethical conduct built in as standard. A very short-sighted recruitment agency poaches staff from their own clients. I would consider a strongly worded call to your account manager in that business backed by the knowledge that if they can't support you without poaching then there are other agencies who will.


  • Hi Becky

    I agree with Mike I would be arranging a face to face meeting with my Account Manager to ask them to explain what has been happening and your concerns in realtion to this.

    I am not sure what it stated within your commercial agreement with them but I would not expect my employees to be actively targeted as a result of us having a relationship with the agency and using this to gain access to employees in order to poach them. 

    I worked with many recruitment agencies in my role with an Accountancy practice and yes there was plenty of churn in terms of employees leaving to work in other practices but if I had got wind of any suppliers on my PSL contacting employees directly this would have definitely damaged my relationship with the contact at the agency and I would not have hesitated to remove them from my PSL on this basis (subject to have investigated the facts as to what had actually happened).

    I hope this helps


    • Thanks Sarah.

      The Manager who was approached forwarded me a copy of the LinkedIn message from the agency so there's definitely no doubt about their intentions.  They were only on trial for our PSL anyway so I'm going to withdraw our vacancies and blacklist them!

  • Hi Becky,

    Wow, I don't think you're over reacting at all. I can't log on to Linkedin without seeing someone ranting about the practices of some recruitment agencies.

    I think that if you are working with a Recruitment Agency that there should be something in the contract about not being able to poach existing members of staff. If this is found to be the case then they lose commission from existing recruitment and are penalised - that will soon stop it.

    Is there anything in the contract like that?

    Event if it's not in any contract I think your absolutely in your rights to have that conversation with them. Is it professional or even ethical?


    • Thanks Mike - good to know I'm not over reacting! 

      I've checked the terms but there's nothing in there that's relevant.  Funny thing is, they made such a big deal in their sales pitch about how they are compliant with the REC rules and ethics guidelines!

      I certainly don't consider it professional or ethical!

      A strongly worded email is in order!

      • Hi Becky

        Sorry to hear about this. Most recruitment companies I know avoid this kind of practice but it's still unfortunately rather common.

        If they are REC members, then you definitely need to let REC know. They are proactive in upholding the standards of their members and they investigate any complaints about the conduct of their members.

        Hopefully you can resolve this. Moving forward I've found its usually better to lock suppliers into a contract with a 'non-poach' clause but there are always some agencies that will choose to operate outside of any agreements.

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