A major new independent survey of over 1000 UK jobseekers and employers has painted a troubling picture of recruitment agencies in the UK.

Research reveals that an unregulated industry with no barrier to entry has led to wildly fluctuating service levels. These include an over reliance on technology and shady practices such as publishing fake job advertisements as a way of getting people to sign up with their agency.

Less than 5% of respondents would trust a recruitment agency

The research: “Trust in Recruitment”, undertaken by Explain The Market for the peer-to-peer recruitment recommendation platform AnyGood? found that over half of all respondents (52%) that have used recruitment agencies in the past year did not feel that they were dealt with honestly and less than 5% would trust a recruitment agency to advise them whether a role or candidate was right for them.

“Based on my career in pharmaceuticals, education and the charity sector, I can only think of one or two recruitment consultants that I have ever trusted”, said one London based jobseeker.

Poor knowledge, lack of expertise, lack of client care and even fake job ads

Specific problems cited by respondents included the fact that recruitment agencies rarely put the needs of an individual hirer or jobseeker above making a profit, often have little industry or sector expertise, don’t listen to requirements and post fake job advertisements to lure in talent.

There was also a feeling that recruiters relied too much on technology with over 90% stating that it was important to ensure that recommendations came from real people and not algorithms.

“You don’t really trust an app or a website on its own. I need to talk to the people who are really in the know about the job,” said one respondent – a hiring manager from a property business.

Candidates believe Online technology is ‘unjustly’ screening them out

A job seeker from Birmingham said:

“Everything is online, no issue with that. I can’t see that trend ever slowing down but sometimes I feel like I’m written off before anyone has a chance to get to know me or even talk to people who know what I can do.”

Clients and Candidates struggle to identify ‘the good guys’ in recruitment

In an industry where lack of faith is so widespread, professionals working within the recruitment industry are concerned that it’s hard for clients to identify ‘the good guys’ – because as a profession, they get tarred with the same brush.

“This is an industry ripe for disruption,” says Juliet Eccleston founder of AnyGood? a platform where professionals recommend their peers for roles.

“Let’s be clear – there are undoubtedly good honest recruitment firms out there but it is also apparent that trust in the recruitment sector as a whole is at an all time low. What we have today is an under regulated unlicensed third-party intermediary with levels of service that simply would not be tolerated in any other sector. Think estate agents and Purple bricks. Think travel agents and Airbnb. Then think recruitment agents – with our research showing that over 45% of respondents were now using recruitment agencies less or not at all, the writing may well already be on the wall. This research is just the start of a campaign to clean up the sector – it’s being openly shared and we hope that it can be the start of a conversation for change.”