No industry is free of risk, but there are definitely some that carry more risk than others.
Recruitment might not be the first sector to come to mind when you think of risk. There’s not much physical danger, relatively few health risks, and usually no heavy machinery involved. It is however important to understand that the risk in recruitment comes more from the amount of people involved, the roles that they will fill, and the processes that come with it all. It’s not surprising, then, that recruitment professionals are becoming more and more accustomed to assessing and mitigating risk in their day-to-day activities.
When finding the right candidates to fill a variety of roles is your bread and butter, it is critical that you can maintain a clear distinction between each process and effectively communicate the specifics of each distinct role. The responsibilities specific to each role will influence the level of risk and how this risk will need to be mitigated. For example, when filling the position of a high-level executive, the Recruiter will not just consider the responsibility that will sit on the Candidates shoulders as well as the sensitivity of the information they will have access to, but also the sensitivity of that Candidate being involved in a recruitment process (if they are currently in a senior position in a potentially competing company), and the impact that information going public may have, such as prejudicing their existing relationships. Alternatively, when filling the position of a Subject Matter Expert or Specialist in a specific field, the risk will be more centred on whether the chosen candidate can fulfil what is required of them, and so the Recruiter's assessment of each Candidate's suitability is bought heavily in to focus.
It’s not an enviable task to have to contend with so many variants of risk, but the saving grace may be that in a field like recruitment it is much easier to learn from past experiences and the experiences of others. That’s exactly why we believe sharing risk is such an important factor in the recruitment sector, as it won’t just allow a business to minimise their risk, but it will also serve as a great tool for them and other businesses to build on.
The Quality Assurance processes and Credential Checks Recruiters are required to carry out can be a particular cause for concern. The risks involved are threefold. Firstly, there’s the most obvious risk that a candidate passes through the checks but ends up having not provided accurate information (e.g. not stating any unspent criminal convictions). This is the worst-case scenario, as the Recruiter will have been relying on the effectiveness of their tools to protect their reputation, and now has delivered a Candidate that does not meet minimum requirements. It’s in these situations that properly designed contracts and a good relationship with clients is essential, so that all parties can work together to find a solution. Honesty is always the best policy in these instance, a mistake has been made, but we have updated our processes and it will not be happening again.
The second risk is inherent to the recruitment processes themselves, as if they are not properly put together, then the candidates that go through them, despite being eligible for the role may not be of the necessary quality to meet the Client's needs. This is another situation where sharing risk can be beneficial to avoid any potential issues. Benefiting from the knowledge of peers can aid in developing a robust process and suitable controls, to ensure the Client gets what and who they need. It can also be very beneficial to have contingency plans in place, you never know when they may come in handy.
The third risk is one that comes with any process with the potential to be lengthy. An age-old cliché in recruitment is that 'Time Kills Deals.' As a process drags on, going through multiple interview stages, the risk increases that your best candidates become either disinterested in continuing, could be poached by more nimble competitors, or their existing employers remedy whatever has caused the Candidate to consider a move. The way to minimise this risk is slightly more holistic and much less scientific. Keep candidates involved in the recruitment process with clear and regular dialogue, it is the long silences that will drive them away.
It is also important that a recruitment process not become too bureaucratic and have a real person at the front of them. Each business will have its own way of doing this, and each client will have their own ideas on how it should be done, but it's up to the recruitment professionals in charge to find the happy medium and keep everyone on board.
A separate source of risk, which might not affect every recruitment professional but certainly warrants discussion, is that of working with Contractors. The Recruiter can often effectively be the employer of the Contractor, and has responsibility for ensuring they have necessary risk management practices and controls in place, such as appropriate Professional Liability Insurance for example. Much risk can also stem from the relationship between the Recruiter's Contractor and their Client; to what point does the Contractor have free rein, and how much freedom is the Client willing to give? For the recruitment professional in the middle, the process of minimising risk becomes almost a balancing game between the parties, and it incumbent upon them to ensure contracts are robust, unambiguous, and fair.
As a recruitment professional it is always best practice for any contracts involved to be properly constructed. You never want to have to rely on a contract to resolve an issue or mitigate risk, but when it comes to it there’s no room for error.