This week’s letters

Whose interests are catered for?

Might the current downturn in HR recruitment be a useful point at which to
look at the way in which recruitment agencies charge, as well as the wider
debate about transferable skills in HR (News, 7 May).

At present, fees are negotiated between the employing company and the
agency. Therefore, the agency’s primary interest is to place a candidate and
ensure it gets the commission which, in turn, means the agency should always be
acting in the interests of the candidates.

But the current market has a surplus of suitable candidates and limited
vacancies. Who gets the jobs? Is it the ones who have the qualifications, or is
it those who have specific industry sector knowledge?

Are their skills really transferable, or is it more accurate to say it is
only possible to transfer skills within the same sector?

What this boils down to is that agencies will assure candidates who register
with them that they will have their interests represented and will be sure to
be put forward for suitable vacancies. Yet there is no incentive for an agency
to do so if it has someone else on its books who stands a better chance of
securing the post, and earning the agency its commission.

Now is the time to seek a fairer way for the candidate. I would be
interested to hear ideas on this, as it might also be a step towards the
resolution of the age discrimination issue.

Andrew Galer MCIPD
Via e-mail

Demand remains strong at the top

In HR, as with any profession, the demand for top talent is always fierce
and is reflected in salary levels. This is reinforced by the CIPD’s Recruitment
and Retention 2002 research (News, 21 May) which highlights recruitment
difficulties despite the economic downturn due to a lack of experience and

At Courtenay, we are currently finding the busiest strata for HR recruitment
activity is for salaries ranging from £35,000 to £45,000 and again at the
middle to top end for those earning £65,000 to £85,000 upwards.

In fact, although there has been a drop in recruitment overall, it is worth
noting that doors have not closed in the same way as in the recession of the

This must be an indication that HR is now a key player in business strategy,
and HR directors can use this period to help drive forward human capital

Jane Robson
Director, Courtenay

Procedure’s dull, but it still matters

I was concerned to read Ellis Watson of Celador International discouraging
HR directors from focusing on procedure (Conference news, 21 May).

Procedure and process when properly implemented and communicated affect the
bottom line. People know what they are going to do, how to do it and what to do
if something goes wrong. An organisation risks breaching legally binding
procedures without HR driving these guidelines.

Skills within the business may not be recognised or used, resulting in low
productivity and high turnover, without even the simplest form of procedural
development. Procedure is dull, but a necessary part of doing business.

Lisa Watt
HR manager, Encoda Systems

Crass comments merit an apology

I trust I will not be alone in saying how crass I found the comments of
Ellis Watson of Celador International (Conference news, 21 May). These rent-a-quote
comments reflect very poorly on him. Can we expect an apology?

Paul Leigh
Via e-mail

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