Why GDPR is a fantastic opportunity for recruitment businesses…

We are 4 months away from the new GDPR regulations coming into effect and I am astonished at how little focus is being placed on it by a lot of recruitment businesses. It is viewed by many in my industry as a massive headache. Come May, a large number of recruitment agencies face having to remove the vast majority of CVs and candidate details from their databases because of GDPR. Many firms rely on those databases to find candidates for their clients.

Most of the applicant tracking and CRM systems that agencies used were never geared up for such a change in data protection taking place. They wanted to make it as easy as possible for candidates to apply so that as many people’s details as possible could be captured in their systems. When I went through a vendor selection process, most of the systems available parsed CVs in from an email with no opportunity for the candidate to agree to a data protection policy.

This was actually a red line for us when we were looking at systems and it narrowed the field of systems available massively. None of the main players allowed candidates to apply via an online application form where they could agree to our data protection policy, so we discounted them. About 6 years ago I actually had to turn to Taleo (a package designed for internal recruiters) as our ATS rather than one that was designed specifically for a recruitment agency that linked both candidate and client data in one place.

The reason for this fundamental difference in applicant tracking systems for internal resourcing functions and recruitment agencies is quite simple. When someone applies directly to a business, they know who they are applying to and there is already a certain degree of buy-in from the candidate. They are far more willing to fill out an application form and they know that the job definitely exists.

I know that some recruitment agencies indulge the shady practice of posting adverts for roles that do not exist to boost their database. They also write adverts that fail to excite and engage candidates. Subsequently, those candidates are less inclined to fill out an application form and read a data protection policy when they apply. GDPR will force agencies to work harder to engage candidates with their roles. We might not be able to tell candidates in our adverts who the client is but there is a lot that we can do to excite them about a job that we are handling.

The recruitment industry often gets knocked for it’s lack of professionalism. Sometimes this is unfair and sometimes it is not. I have worked with a number of very professional and ethical recruiters and I have seen my fair share of sharks. It seems to be the recruiters that work with integrity and honesty that are still recruiting after 10-20 years. Funny that!

GDPR will bring into focus the businesses that take candidate management seriously and I hope that it will ultimately improve the reputation of our profession as a whole. If the main software providers into the industry have not to date taken data protection seriously, then that it because there has not been the demand from their clients to do so. That is changing right now.

I have to say that our software provider, FireFish, have been absolutely brilliant. They have always allowed us to include the option for candidates to agree to our data protection policy. GDPR was not even a twinkle in the eye of the Data Protection Act and they were doing this. They have also given all of their clients loads of advice, webinars and tips on handling GDPR. That is the kind of value add that you want from a supplier.

Businesses that do not take GDPR seriously are going to find themselves with hefty fines very quickly. I also suspect that a lot of the recruiters that boast about the size of their database are about to become rather more circumspect.

Our clients quite rightly are taking GDPR very seriously and we expect the same of our own suppliers. I have been fed some rather large porkies by job boards and software providers that clearly don’t know how they are going to deal with GDPR… they need to figure that out very quickly.

The recruitment businesses and their respective suppliers that manage the new regulations properly will set themselves apart and set a much higher benchmark of integrity and professionalism for the industry. That can only be a good thing!

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