I always wondered if a Headhunter with a christian or any other faith background find themselves questioning their morals when pursuing a high profile candidate using unethical headhunting techniques like 'lying through their teeth' when getting past the gatekeeper and then subsequently probing the company until you find your target?

What are your thoughts...is headhunting ethical?

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Great question! As a Christian I feel qualified to answer. I have had much success in this business and have not had to utilize any unethical techniques. The way I conduct my business is a direct reflection and out pouring of my faith. I have actually told the gatekeeper that I was a recruiter and what I was doing (sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't). However, with all the sourcing tools today, getting to the right person is not difficult.

Now, if someone were utilizing unethical techniques, then yes the techniques would be in conflict.

Hope this helps!
This thread is like an early holiday present.

I remember a post by John Sumser back in 1998 or so (when he was writing some delicious content for interbiznet) about an HR person at Wrigley's who was adamant that peeling back URLs was unethical - just like peeking into someone's wallet if it were left by a person on a table. Alex, she wasn't the only one at the time who believed this was unethical.

Back to the litany of absurd (and humorous) statements made as part of this thread, here's one question: Which came first - ethics or religion? Hmmm...
Just a quick "FYI" here to all you fantastic staffers - if any of your clients or potential clients does a quick Google on your name - whatever you say here will pop right up.

So, while I have never ever told a lie (except one time I had to tell a girl in high school I loved her - when I wasn't quite sure if I did - but that's another story.....) I would caution any of you who very openly discuss your approach, etc....just remember - your clients are watching!
I did not realize that!
You are one of a kind!!
Not to mention that white tail season opened early this year in NY and I have a doe tag!!!
Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
Our season came in last Saturday. I sat in the pouring rain for 2 hours then went in for a Kalua/Coffee (a few actually)

Didn't see a thing. Haven't seen anything the 3 times I've been out. One nice thing about Indiana - I bought a lifetime license 15 years ago so I never have to buy another tag. Ever. So whatever the season is - I just head out and start hunting!

Sal Petrara, CPC said:
I did not realize that!
You are one of a kind!!
Not to mention that white tail season opened early this year in NY and I have a doe tag!!!
Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
Hi Jerry;
funny thing thing is that our season opened up on Sat for the first time in my 20yrs...
Never knew about a lifetime license, have to look into that.
Good luck and hope for snow!!!

Jerry Albright said:
Our season came in last Saturday. I sat in the pouring rain for 2 hours then went in for a Kalua/Coffee (a few actually)

Didn't see a thing. Haven't seen anything the 3 times I've been out. One nice thing about Indiana - I bought a lifetime license 15 years ago so I never have to buy another tag. Ever. So whatever the season is - I just head out and start hunting!

Sal Petrara, CPC said:
I did not realize that!
You are one of a kind!!
Not to mention that white tail season opened early this year in NY and I have a doe tag!!!
Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
I find it interesting that you felt compelled to phrase the question the way you did. Did a competitor (either internal or external) that professes themselves to be a Christian do something unethical like "lying through their teeth" in order to penetrate a company and accomplish their goal of locating a qualified candidate by any means necessary?

As for your reference to faith having or not having an affect, I joined the recruiting industry in 1996 and did not yet have a personal relationship with God. However, the "recruiting tactics" that my initial managers were training me on, bothered me greatly. Even then, I did not understand why you would want to start anything that required you to lie in order to be successful. If you have to lie, that means more than likely the ultimate outcome may not be good for someone. I got into recruiting because I enjoyed working with people and creating relationships, and thought how great it would be to help them find jobs while also providing a valuable service to my clients. I know some people don't mind getting busted, but I never felt comfortable even going there in the first place.

Now, my two cents on "having faith". I finally gave up trying to do it by myself, and entered into a relationship with God 6 years ago, and the more I grow I don't know how, personally, I could separate my faith from my work practices. To me the main key to recruiting, and everything else for that matter, is relationships. I believed it before and even more so now, and it would be very difficult to start any kind of relationship with a lie. I know it is polyanna, but how great would it be if we could all be up front, and didn't have to try and figure out everyone's agenda or their angle when they called us....I bet more phone calls would be answered and voicemails returned.
(((((( popcorn ))))))
Since it's so close to Thanksgiving here in the States (Nick - if you're in the States next week, you're welcome at my table), I thought I'd resurrect a favorite post from the Desperate Sourcers series Maureen and I wrote starting back in 2005.

Some on Hysteria Lane Even Poach Their Turkey for Thanksgiving

“Visualize the parking space and it will appear,” Joan murmurs to herself as she pulls into crowded Wegman’s parking lot late Wednesday afternoon - the day before Thanksgiving. Superlative customer service aside, if only the customers were as nice as the employees. Pulling carefully past the parked cars, she maneuvers her Bimmer - yes, 35% affords her a nice life - towards the front of the store when she spies a car backing out of the handicapped spot. No, the person is not leaving; just perfecting the blue-line technique, except the driver manages to straddle into the non-handicapped space - and without a permit. “Just great!”

“Damn,” she mutters quietly, “this person better have a good reason to park like that.” Yep, she notices the blue parking tag attached to the rearview mirror of the Jag; the driver exits - there s something familiar about the woman Joan thinks to herself. “Harrumph!” she barks to no one in particular and turns into the next row in search of parking nirvana.

Finally, Joan notices another car - one of those cute Volkswagen bugs with a flower standing high above the dashboard - zipping impatiently down the lane next to her. Too fast around the curve, the car almost mows down a young mother with a fully-laden grocery cart, a baby in the seat, and a toddler by the hand. So abruptly does the woman have to pull her heavy shopping cart to a halt off the downhill ramp that two of the bags on top spill out in front of her and dump their contents out upon the macadam lot. By this time Joan had parked and left her car, clicking the lock as she approaches the unnerved young family. “Here, here, let me help, everything s going to be okay,” Joan comforts as she scrambles after the creamed corn and the spilled Macintosh apples. Tucking the last grapefruit in one of the bags, she smiles at the woman and asks, “Can I help you to your car?”

“No, no, thank you - you've been so kind - that lady almost ran into us!” she exclaimed. “It’s the holidays,” offered Joan and shrugs her shoulders. “Some people get crazy perversely around the holidays - don t let things like this keep you from having Happy Thanksgiving!”

“We will - we’re havin turkey!” shouted the toddler who added, “and punkin pie!” Smiling, Joan achingly remembers her children at that age. “Oh, how time vanishes!” she thinks to herself as she enters the brightly lit and festively trimmed store.

As she wheels the shopping cart out of the parked lane and enters produce section, a cart clips her heals and nearly causes her to pitch forward. Turning around and two milliseconds from cursing up a blue streak, she hears, “Oh! I’m so sorry - I’m movin too fast, as usual - oh! Joan! How are you?” the offender exclaims as Joan notices it’s one of her Hysteria Lane neighbors - and the woman in the Jag who parked in the handicapped spot outside. Joan s eyes tightened to narrow slits.

Joan searched deep inside for the politeness that enabled her to say, “Hello, Anti-Poaching Person; that s okay - accidents happen - how have you been?” As if she really cares…

“Oh, I've been so busy! Between my busy recruiting work and all the monitoring I do on the groups - you know the groups, right, Joan? I just love the groups - and I know they loooooove me. I don t have a minute’s peace. I’m finally just now getting to the store for the first time in two weeks - I should have just waited til after Thanksgiving.” she trails off as she looks at the crowded registers.

“Are you cooking tomorrow?” Joan asks to which Anti-Poaching Person shoots back with “Me cook? No way! I’ve had so many offers from people wanting me to come to dinner tomorrow but I’m just gonna stay home and catch up on some of my reading - you know how recruiting laws change every minute of every day of every month in this great land of ours. I’m thankful for that!”

Knowing better than to ask and risk a forty-five minute inquisition, Joan creeps forward, pushing her cart before her, peering intently at the prices marked on the baked goods offered for sale. “Those pies look good but they want what? $8.99? For a pumpkin pie! Goodness gracious, some people really do go nuts on the holidays,” she thinks to herself. “Well, Anti-Poaching Person I hope you have a nice holiday,” as she ignores Anti-Poaching Person’s groups question, “I better get going, I’m cooking and I’m here to buy a turkey.” Moving off, and thinking aloud, Joan says to no one in particular, “I’m just so tired of roasted turkey - this year I’m going to poach it.”

Anti-Poaching Person’s head does a 180 - the only thing missing is a spinning bed and green vomit. “What?” she cries. “Did I hear you correctly??? You’re going to do what?” Caught a bit of guard, Joan offers a weak “Huh?” She also notices the Jaguar logo key chain on the keys Anti-Poaching Person has hanging from her Coach purse. “What did you say?” Anti-Poaching Person demands. “Did you say you’re going to poach a turkey?”

“Uhhh, yeah,” Joan stammers as if confronted by a burly police officer, “I was thinkin about it. Might be a nice change - you know; kinda thinkin outside the bird,” as she offers weak smile and a sly wink at Anti-Poaching Person.

Like waving a red flag waved in front of a charging bull, Anti-Poaching Person’s face reddens to an equally deep crimson. “But don’t you know, Joan, poaching is just wrong - it’s illegal and unethical - in this state and all others! It doesn’t matter that it’s a turkey - all poaching’s illegal, illegal, ILLEGAL! And to top it off, it’s just plain fowl.”

Joan sharply replies. “Anti-Poaching Person we’ve been over this - you know I don’t agree with you on some things, and this is one of them. Let’s leave well enough alone before one of us gets our feelings hurt.” And it won t be me, Joan chuckles to herself.

“But Joan!” Anti-Poaching Person is frothing at the mouth and almost screaming, “poaching is illegal - you know it’s illegal - and unethical!” She just can t help herself, the poor thing. Easy, Joan. Somebody ought to get Anti-Poaching Person out of here. “Poultry Roasting Owners For Intelligent Turkey Society - PROFITS - has strict guidelines on how to prepare holiday fowl. I’m certified - and you should be too. It’s a sign that you believe in traditional Holiday food preparation.”

“Anti-Poaching Person! Stop! You've made my mind up - I’m going to poach this turkey and you can t stop me! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to find the Certified Poultry Purchaser - his name is Frank Clux and he is usually in this store.”

“What d’ya need to talk to him for,” Anti-Poaching Person asks, her nose wrinkling upwards as if smelling a foul scent.

“Well, if you must know, I want to know just how much he pays for the poultry he buys for this store - I found his name on their store telephone directory and I’ve left messages for him since Monday so I thought I’d come in here and hunt him down in person; I want to know why I have to pay $1.49/lb here when I can get it for 49 cents at Western Beef down the road.”

“A pilfered phone directory,” Anti-Poaching Person thinks to herself as a shudder runs across her thin frame. “I heard that before -oh yeah, I guess all of Hysteria Lane s gone to Heck in a Handbasket,” as she remembered the remark that wafted in on the morning breeze earlier in the week.

“Joan, we gotta talk,” Anti-Poaching Person blurts out, “You re gonna get yourself in some serious trouble, you have some serious bad habits, girl - did Noreen teach you this stuff?”

Joan chuckles louder than normal as Anti-Poaching Person throws her head back like an angry equine and mutters loudly under her breath so all in earshot can hear, “Poaching a turkey is just plain wrong.”

Turning to the woman who happens to be eavesdropping in on this juicy conversation, Joan smiles and says, “But it tastes soooooooo good.”
As a Christian I don't think you need to lie to a gatekeeper to get past them. I also don't think you need to use unethical methods to research a company. As a matter of fact, the people who make it a habit of using unethical or dishonest methods of advancing their business are usually exposed. Keep these words of Paul in mind next time you are considering doing something less than honest in your efforts to make a buck. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving(Colossians 3:23-24)

David Templeman
Director of Recruiting

RiverPoint Group LLC
I once heard a gentleman of conscience say, "I don't know if I can be a good person and continue to be involved with this industry."
Wow! What a great discussion! I only made it through the first page of replies and they are fascinating. I could get sucked into this entire string... but there's work to be done. However, I find myself compelled to vote for the following as my favorite explanation, justification and answer to the original question.

Michael Schulman said:
Let's first look at the title of your question, "Is Headhunting ethical?" First of all, the behavior of lying to gate keepers, or anyone else for that matter, is not directly related to the morality or ethical nature of the profession of executive recruitment. Lying is not a moral behavior. Good recruiters can find people and even get past gatekeepers without lying. So just to make one thing perfectly clear, it is improper to imply that by it's nature alone, that the making available of career opportunities to those who do not know of them yet is unethical, is just plain wrong. As an ex-therapist of 7 years and executive recruiter of 30 years, I can say that I am involved in an honorable profession. I help human beings realize their potential. Since the ratification of the 13th amendment making it illegal for anyone (or company) to force another person into indentured servitude, we should never feel guilty offering a person a chance to work in a place they may choose as a better place for themselves. We should however understand, that we have a responsibility to conduct our professional practice in ethical manner.

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