People hacking: Why headhunters impede accountants' growthby
Am I the only reader who misinterpreted last week’s headline “Protect your firm against the ‘people hackers’”?
Rather than an erudite article about identity theft, my immediate reaction was that someone had finally got to grips with the mischievous activities of headhunters, who have been the bane of my professional life for years.
To be a little more specific, I quite often have mixed feelings about the cold calls that so frequently interrupt my thought processes and the innocent questions and very quickly lead to offers of interviews for jobs to which I am totally unsuited.
On one hand, I hate being pestered by people trying to sell things, even jobs that I am capable of doing. On the other, if you receive no calls of this kind for too long, it is possible to reach the point where you begin to doubt your own value.
Time and time again, when accountants are asked about the biggest impediment to growing their businesses, they do not respond with the obvious “finding new clients” but, instead, moan about their inability to recruit and retain good members of staff.
One of the biggest problems is the incessant attempts of recruitment consultants, often inarticulate and badly trained cold callers, to poach our best members of staff away. This is most prevalent in the period immediately after our young stars pass their final exams and become highly valued newly qualified accountants.
However, with the tough market that we are seeing at present, people at all levels will be receiving calls of this type and frequently, either because they are not good at saying “no” or perhaps due to the element of flattery and being singled out, our colleagues are enticed into interviews, leading to career moves that are not always in their best interests.
This may sound cynical but from bitter personal experience, far too many of those in the recruitment industry are interested in feathering their own nests by placing people rather than ensuring that both firm and recruit are suited to each other.
Going a step further, the best outcome for most recruitment consultants is to place somebody who makes a complete hash of things over a six month period, thus guaranteeing that there will be no clawback on a very hefty fee, before requiring a second change of job which will conveniently lead to another very hefty fee for the consultant.
Please do not misunderstand the tenor of this article. I have a good friend who is a recruitment consultant and he has high ethical standards, works very hard to do the right thing by all parties and deserves every penny of the millions that he has probably made in his career to date.
I would imagine that he would not disagree with many of the comments above since, like accountants, he would wish to be associated with an industry that has a faultless reputation.
Sadly, like accountants, the way things are going at the moment, both he and we will probably currently be doing our level best to avoid revealing the industry in which we work, in case we get tarred with the same brush as our brethren who have just let Carillion go under without apparently doing anything material to protect the stakeholders who had every reason to rely on the company’s auditors and other advisers.