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Deceptive recruiters kill off job hopes in Adelaide

By Malcolm King - posted Thursday, 17 March 2016


Adelaide's private recruiters are listing false job advertisements, harvesting resumes to sell training and lying to candidates about their employment prospects.

Thousands of job changers and desperate job seekers are wasting their time sending online applications off for jobs that don't exist. They are grilled by recruiters about their recent job interviews, then recruiters contact those employers to try sell them their candidates. Applicants are simply 'resume meat'.

The English poet Shelley wrote, "in me lies such power, for I grow weary to behold the selfish and the strong still tyrannize without reproach or check." It's the tyranny of the few over the many as recruiters have inveigled their way, by craft and guile, to become the gatekeepers of leadership aspiration in Adelaide.

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Not a day goes by without my professional writing clients venting their spleen at private recruitment and private training agents. "As low as a snake's prostate," one client spat.

In the journalistic spirit of a latter day Barbara Ehrenreich, I applied for a three-month position through a recruitment agency in Adelaide as a Senior Assessment Officer, working for the Commonwealth Government. The Government wanted 12 people to assess aged care grants across the state. It required a sound knowledge of policy and working within legal frameworks.

I was interviewed and told a week later that I had not got the job. There was no feedback. No transparency of process. No accountability. I know why I was knocked back. I'm 56 and over qualified. Qualifications and executive experience are negatives in Adelaide. That's why I run my own business.

I had previously worked for the Department of Employment in Canberra as an Associate Director in Labour Market Strategy. A core area was ensuring there were trained staff as the first wave of Boomers hit residential aged care homes.

There's also rash of online jobs boards run by current or former recruiters, who funnel resumes directly to private training organisations. They use the resumes' private contact information to sell applicants training and then get them to access their VET FEE Help accounts.

Private VET trainers (many are recruiters) have cajoled, scammed and burdened thousands of kids with unwanted VET-FEE billsfor rubbish training, delivered by people who can't teach and who are in it for the fast bucks.

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It wasn't until I saw a client, Bill, in his late 20s, that I realised how far and deeply entrenched some of these scams were. Bill saw a job advertised online at OneShiftfor a warehousing position in Adelaide. He sent off his resume. Three days later he was called by 'Guy' from OneShift in Sydney, who said he had not been short listed for the job.

Guy said Bill's employment chances would 'improve drastically' if he undertook some Vocational Education and Training (VET) at a national private training provider. The cost was about three times what a TAFE program would cost and all he had to do was access his VET FEE HELP account. Bill said 'no'.

In a world where the lowest common denominator is not hard to find, private recruitershave carved out their own niche. Unfortunately, they're also not the smartest girls and guys in the room. At a recent work function I spoke to a senior recruiter in her early 30s about the emotional impact of visiting Auschwitz in Poland. She looked puzzled. 'Did you go skiing?' She was hiring executives in Adelaide.

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About the Author

Malcolm King works in generational workforce change. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University. He also runs a professional writing business called Republic.

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