on 23 Jul 2019 9:10 PM

“How much can you bribe me?” This question was put to me by a Hungarian HR manager at a conference dinner. The exact wording was “How much percent do you pay?” At first I didn´t even understand the question. “Percent, of what, pay for what and to whom?” The HR manager insisted, “Come on, don´t play so naïve! How much do you usually pay back for getting the business!” I was under shock and stumbled “Nothing!” He didn´t believe me and said, “Everybody does it! 15 or 20%? How can you be in business without it?” 

How corrupt is your HR?


Ever since then my eyes and ears have been open for this topic and Yes, many HR managers at highly reputable international companies have a personal reputation of taking bribes. Recruitment and training consultants discuss this topic over networking cocktails. So, watch out, it is an open secret! Speaking of cocktail. At a German chamber cocktail I was introduced to a new German expat from a prestigious company. We exchanged business cards. He was interested and said “Headhunting for so many years in Hungary! Have you worked for my company?” I said “No”. “Why not?” was his logical question. For a few seconds I hesitated to tell him “Because your HR manager is corrupt”, but finally I didn´t dare.

My best or rather worst experience in this topic is the following: A few years ago I hired a business developer in Hungary. She came from a training company. She visited all her training contacts in corporate HR departments, was recommended to the recruitment contacts and finally came back to me, “How much can we pay?” I said “Nothing!” She shrugged and said, “Ok, I will try.” She made a second sales round and came back, “They all laughed at me.” After a few months she resigned, because she could not get any new business.

We are in business and there are honest and ethical HR managers out there! All our clients and more, but I am not naïve anymore. I know that there is a dark side of the HR services market. It is a pity that the CEOs do not know or do not care about it. Part 2 of another dark side coming soon!

Klemens Wersonig

Founder & CEO