Monday, March 12, 2012

Have you ever used a recruiter?  (You know, a headhunter? Someone who helps you get a job?)  If you haven't, do you know someone who has?  Do you know what they are?

I know a lot about recruiters, because I was married to one.  I also know a lot about them because I have used them to obtain employment, especially when I was working in New York City.  I was a candidate, and married to the guy who was helping those candidates find jobs.

Do you know what recruiters make?  Wait, let me be clear.  Do you know what most recruiting firms charge for their services?  I want to make the distinction between the firm and the people who work there.  I know what my ex-husband earned as a recruiter and I know what his recruiting firm took in.  Suffice to say, those numbers were

Recruiting firms in New York City charge (on average) 10-20% of the candidate's first year of salary.  That means that if someone is hired to make $50,000, the recruiting firm can charge anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for their services.

And what services do they provide?  (Wait, is this a serious question?)

Do you really want me to answer this?  I will, may not like the answer. 

A recruiter typically sources resumes.  This is a fancy word for placing ads in internet forums and networking, which is mostly about Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In.  They read resumes and solicit candidates that a company may want to hire.  Sometimes, recruiters arrange for drug testing or computer testing (for instance, to test a candidate's knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, etc).  In rare, cases, recruiters can provide access to psychological testing.  And sometimes, recruiters make a few phone calls to check references or past job history.  By the time the candidate arrives to the company to interview, the candidate is supposed to be properly vetted.

If you think this happens just as its supposed to, every single time, please feel free to return to your Utopian Universe.  May I join you there?

After a candidate interviews, the recruiter's job is to hound the interviewing company and attempt to convince them to hire "their" candidate.  If the company does this, the recruiter fields the offer, presents it to the candidate (while trying to convince the candidate to take the job, even if it may not be in the candidate's best interest to do so) and then earns their fee. 

There are some very good, ethical, and competent recruiters out there.  (No, really!)  There are also some really crappy, lousy recruiters who sound like used car salesman, complete with the cheap, two-bit suit and some line about how that peeling paint gives the car "character" and that rattling sound you hear is nothing more than a leaf stuck in the fan motor.

Whether they are ethical or crooked however, they all collect their fee.  (And, lest I begin to get hate mail, I'm describing how recruiters who are doing permanent placements operate.  Temporary staffing is slightly different in how compensation occurs, and I know this.)

What did they do to earn their "fee"?

They did some work.  There is some overhead involved.  Being able to sort through resumes on, for instance, costs the employers (staffing firms) money.  Keeping up a website, phone calls, time to interview candidates, locate potential customers, find available jobs...this all costs money.  I'm sure some MBA-level manager could accurately calculate how much it "costs" to find a competent employee, but I haven't the skill or inclination to do so.  I will say, however, that I have a tough time believing that it magically costs some percentage of the candidate's salary.  I have a tough time believing that it costs $10,000 or more to hire someone.  I doubt it's all entirely quantifiable.  In fact, I just bet that there is some "cushion" built in there somewhere...hmm... (sarcasm much?)

When potential employees seek the services of a staffing firm, they do so because they believe that the recruiter has access to dozens of jobs.  They know that some staffing firms have exclusive contracts with companies, and that these companies never publish "help wanted" ads.  Instead, they give their employment information to the recruiter.  Potential employees believe that recruiters will advocate for them and be a "middle man" in the process of obtaining a job.

Potential employees do not "buy" a job from a recruiter, nor do employers "buy" employees for a position.  There is an exchange, mutually agreed upon fees are exchanged, work is done in exchange for the fees, and everyone goes on their merry way.  It is an industry that is rife with corruption, poor ethics, manipulation...and nobody says a word. Fundamentally, the system works with generally acceptable levels of good business practices.  No one accuses employers of "buying employees", even though the truth is, some recruiters do very little to earn their "fees".  I know this intimately and personally. 

In adoption, prospective adoptive parents are accused, in part, of "buying" children.  It is an understandable argument.  Adoption is also the subject of poor ethics and corruption.  Adoption expenses are always "spelled out", but let's face it...does it really cost $500 or $1000 to "review my home study"?  Should it cost me $3,000 for a social worker to come to my home for a total of six hours?  And where on that itemized list are the "donations", given to orphanage workers or others?  Does it really cost thousands of dollars to translate a dossier, prepare legal documents in other countries, or provide transportation?

The answer, more than likely, is no.  The organizations that help facilitate adoption have quantifiable expenses in the same way recruiters do.  They could not afford to operate for free. But actual expenses are likely far less than what adoptive parents are billed.  It is the way it is.  There's no getting around it.

Adoptive parents are paying for a process that expands their families.  In that process, there are things that can make most ethical people uncomfortable.  There are even situations where illegal things are happening. But adoptive parents can't control most of that.  When their checks are released to the "powers that be", well, that's the end of the control.  Some agencies are very ethical and aboveboard.  Some adoptive processes are really above reproach, even for those who hate adoption.  But others are not.  It is true.

Recruiters do not "sell" employees, and employers do not "buy" them.  Likewise, adoptive parents do not "buy" children.  It seems that way to some, perhaps, because of a highly simplistic worldview coupled with a lack of understand about how the process works.  With so many undocumented (or perhaps unprovable) expenses, it seems that way.  Real estate agents help people buy houses, but I can't imagine many agents who would tell you that the amount of money they charged on a listing was what it cost to sell it.  More than likely, their costs were significantly less; thus, their profit was high.

There is profit in adoption.  I would like to think that there isn't, but there is.  There certainly is.  One would like to believe that those who assist families and children in adoption wouldn't charge much in the way of "markup".  But I can't be sure that happens.  No one really can.  It is the process that exists, and those who seek to overhaul it or criticize it offer no reasonable, workable solutions to really change it. 

If every adoptive parent turned their back on the process as it currently works, in some sort of mass protest, the net result is that children - TODAY - would be without their basic human right of proper care and a family.  Some would be okay, sure.  But others would not.  Some might die while the backs of the adoption world collectively turned their backs, waiting for change that will likely never come.  Those who suggest change suggest a view of the world that is incredibly ethnocentric.  If some children are ultimately devalued because of their status (as orphan, disabled, part of an undesirable ethnic group), how precisely is it possible to magically change their thinking?  And by the way, why should they?  We may not agree that cows are sacred, but try telling that to certain religious groups.  Are they wrong?  Well, *I* think they are, know, that's just me.

(the definition of tolerance, by the way...)

The point is, adoptive parents don't buy their children.  Adoptive parents don't have the kind of control that adoption-haters believe they have.  And in the final analysis, there are children who suffer or are deprived of a safe, caring place to be nurtured and grow.  They cannot wait while the utopian world view zealots figure out every single nuance to make everything completely fair and free of corruption (in their view).  Do you know that it is common in the Dominican Republic to be pulled over by a police officer while driving and to pay him to let you go?  Preposterous!  No.  It's true, and it's not considered corruption.  It's considered normal.  Should we mount a campaign against those from that country - start some sort of mass 'education campaign' to teach them why this practice is wrong? 

No.  All we can do is work within the system we have.  If that means we have to pack a few bucks extra while driving in the Domincan Republic, great.  That's what we have to do or we can choose not to drive there.  If we want to adopt a child, particularly a special needs child who is honestly and genuinely looked down upon in their birth culture, we have to use the system that is in place.  We must strive to find ethical people to help us, and we must understand that every dollar we spend to effectuate this process is NOT going to be accounted for.  Like the recruiter, they will earn their fee and that is part of the process.  To wait for a massive overhaul of the process while lives hang in the balance is unethical. 

There will be more posts like this one.  My blog is wide, wide open.  I hide behind nothing.  If you dissent and hide, you haven't the courage to offer a valid point, and that substantially detracts from your position to the point of irrelevance.

In the meanwhile, share our blog, share our story, share our life, and yes.  If you can, share in the process of bringing home our future son by contributing to our cause.


  1. I truly cannot fathom why adoption costs so much. I suppose in my simple mind I look at it llike this- child needs home, parents overseas wants child, bam it's done. It seems ludicrous to me that there are so many hoops and expenses. I understand not everyone should just be able to walk into an orphanage and point at any child and say mine, but at some point we have to make it easier because I think there are a lot of people who want to adopt, but who really has an extra $35,000 laying around? This process is not usually made easy for the common man.

    But like you said- what can be done? The only other alternative to playing it there way is to leave Little Dude there, and I know you can't do that. But thank you for being honest, it's nice to see that.

    Ok now my rant is done :)

  2. Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap... I can't add a single word to this. PERFECT post.


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