Last week, there was an article in "Times of India", I think, about over 50 people getting cheated by a bogus recruiter who promised them all jobs at the Hyundai facilities in Chennai for a neat sum of money.
Last month another bogus recruiter (same???) cheated hundreds of people after promising them jobs in IBM!
These are just instances in the last month that caught the media attention. We don't even know how many such incidents go unreported.
Why is it so difficult to regularize businesses and stop desperate people from getting cheated? All we need is a site where all recruiters have to be registered. If you are not registered there I won't deal with you. End of story.
Let me illustrate this with what happened to me 2 weeks ago and how I was able to get clarity quickly.
A man from a tamil monthly called "Pothu Nanayam" contacted me over the phone asking for an appointment to interview me for his magazine. After ensuring it was really me he was after, I asked him to come later in the evening.
Promptly at 5:00 PM, a smartly dressed, dignified looking man arrived and introduced himself as Udumalai Chandran, the chief editor of the magazine. He told me that their monthly magazine concentrated on articles about upcoming businesses and business men, especially those who were also involved in service organizations such as the Rotary International.
He told me their circulation was around 26,000 a month and all of their revenues came from advertisements sponsored by the people they interview. So, even before he started the interview, he had made it clear that I would be paying him somewhere between Rs. 1500 to Rs. 4500 depending on the kind of advertisement I chose. He also showed me the last six issues of his magazine, each covering over 40 people, many of whom I recognized as fellow rotarians.
The interview lasted for over 30 minutes, during which time he asked all the standard questions and jotted down everything in good, chaste, high-quality tamil. Finally he asked for a photo and gave me a receipt for Rs. 1500 (which was all I was willing to pay - that too only because he had come all the way to my office). I told him I'd mail the cheque along with the photo during the course of the week. He thanked me, wished me all the very best for my new venture and left. As he was leaving, I asked him to leave behind the last issue so that I could go through it in leisure.
I mentioned this to a friend later that day and said that I had agreed to pay because I felt guilty for having brought him to my office, but I was not happy since I had never heard of the magazine.
He laughed and said that it would be worthwhile to check them out before paying them. He informed me that there is an organization called the Registrar of Newspaper for India where I could check for the existence of any newspaper or magazine in India. Promptly, I went to that site and searched for "Pothu Nanayam" by name as well as by the registration number given on the back of the magazine "TN/MS (S) 246". No such magazine was registered on that site!
Two days later Mr. Chandran called me for the cheque and I told him that since his paper was not listed in the Registry of Indian newspapers, I was no longer willing to pay him anything. He seemed flustered and sounded surprised at not being listed in the official registry. He briefly thanked me and hung up.
He seemed like such a nice man, but I think I did the right thing. I don't like paying for anything if I am not sure and it took me 2 minutes of guidance and 3 minutes of internet time to find out the antecedents of his "organization".
While I have no way of knowing whether the magazine is real or not, at least I was able to decide for myself based on the information available from authorized sources on the web.
Similarly, in the case of recruiters, there should be an avenue for people to find out the antecedents of people and organizations.
Knowledge = Willingness to check + access to information.
We, especially here in India, need to inculcate the first and provide the second. If we really want to help people, it should not be too difficult, especially if we are moved when we hear or read about poor, desperate people being cheated.
Instead of waiting for the slow moving wheels of the government to spring into action, we at JobsByRef.com have decided that we will provide facilities for recruitment organizations to register themselves along with details of which companies they officially represent. It may not solve the whole problem, but it is still a place to start.
If you have any other suggestions, do write in the comments section. Thanks.