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Australia – Job seeker demands to view recruitment agency files

02 October 2013

Despite a solid CV that is currently on-file with a slew of recruiters, Adam Ezekiel, a former chief technology officer for an online shopping start-up is unable to find a job, reports theage.com.au. With more than 17 years of high-tech experience, Mr Ezekiel has founded two software ventures, been a mentor, and worked in the corporate IT arena.

This year he has worked on contract for just four months and since July has been applying for up to 10 jobs a week, including for chief technology officer, enterprise architect, and senior manager appointments.

Frustrated, Mr Ezekiel has turned to the recruitment agencies he is registered with to see what is going wrong. He has contacted 18 of the agencies he has dealt with over the past year and requested a copy of his file, citing the National Privacy Principles (NPP), which regulate the way businesses handle people’s personal information.      

According to NPP number six, individuals are entitled to access their personal information and have the right to have it corrected if it is inaccurate, incomplete or out of date. Mr Ezekiel is particularly interested in any subjective notes or comments made on his job applications by recruiters.

He advised the director of one agency in a follow-up email that: “Without knowing what you have on file, I cannot identify and potentially correct any issues that may be preventing me from gaining a desired role through you.”

He says the notes made by some agents who have agreed to his request have been enlightening and horrifying. One had labelled him as ‘arrogant’, a judgment he believes has resulted in automatic blacklisting for jobs through that agency. Another has him pegged as a ‘genius’ but has failed to find him a role, Ezekiel said.

He believes recruiters are gatekeepers who wield too much power over applicants whose careers and livelihoods depend on making it onto their shortlist. Some don’t enter updated CVs into their databases while others can undermine a candidate’s chances if they don’t like the cut of their jib, Ezekiel says.

Some recruiters have not responded to Ezekiel’s request, while others have questioned his motive for wanting his file.

Australia’s largest ICT recruiter, Peoplebank, asked Ezekiel to visit its offices in person and pay a fee of AUD 75 (USD 70) plus tax. According to Peoplebank CEO Peter Acheson the fee covers the cost of staff managing the request and preparing the documentation.

Mr Acheson said in a statement: “Much of the time is reviewing the entire record to ensure that we are only providing Mr Ezekiel’s personal information. As we have a relational database, our candidate data often has links to other parts of our database…and we need to ensure that we are only giving the individual their data and not another person’s data.”

Mr Ezekiel was asked to attend in person so the firm could verify his identity “to ensure that we do not release private data to anyone but the person who owns the data”, Mr Acheson said.

Since he started exercising his privacy rights, Mr Ezekiel says he has had some valuable feedback: "I've learnt quite a bit - some [agents] have been very helpful and professional."


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Bob 10/02/2013 09:15 pm

Interesting read. I hope that Mr Ezekiel, having likely been a hiring manager himself, sees the other side. If a recruitment company were to have sent him a CV in the past that was not the best fit or was not a good culture fit I am sure he would have been suitably annoyed. Recruiters work for both candidates and clients and are not simply a CV sending service. A good recruiter is a consultant who makes judgement calls on candidates based on their knowledge. The client relationship for a recruiter is only as good as the fit of the candidates they send. Although Mr Ezekiel may have a strong skills et there are many other factors involved. A recruiter works for free until placement (usually) therefore it is in their best interests to represent Mr Ezekiel if he is the bets fit. It may be the case there are others who are a better fit.

No case is as cut and dry as the above suggests, there are many factors that come into play. In addition the article focuses on the bad experience and leaves only one sentence for the positive at the bottom. Perhaps a more balanced view would be better.

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