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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Agreed, which is why recruiting is legal and lucrative when successful.

In the process we all realize that 99.9% of the companies we're recruiting from don't want us doing so and, in knowing this, we persist anyway. It's that aspect of recruiting and doing what's necessary/effective as a means to the desired end of finding passive candidates knowing our activity is frowned upon by the company we're recruiting out of which causes most of the "queasiness," IMO.

Just my two cents.

I couldn't resist this one. An argument about Ethics and Karen? It's been a while.

People that don't like rusing tend to be people that can't do it, so it's easier to knock it in the same way as the only sales people that knock cold calling are the ones that can't do it very well.

Most Headhunters ruse and as long as its harmless and no one gets hurt in the process, what is the big deal? It's all to improve a candidates lifestyle and help the Customer get the best staff after all which is why they pay healthy fees for the service.

I've never heard a Customer or Candidate complain yet after a successful conclusion. Can you imagine the customer complaining to you? "I'm not going to give that job to the perfect candidate you found me because you lied to the gatekeeper to get their name" yeah right. The only complaints are from other recruiters.

It's the depth of the ruse that matters. Making up a story to get past a gatekeeper is a smaller lie than telling your children that Santa Claus is true or the tooth fairy really exists. Ever told this lie to your kids and yet you won't use a ruse?

I don't see the relevance of the Regious connection because if Religion is about telling the truth, which one is it that is telling the truth? Or are they all telling the truth?
Paul, your question is, "Is Headhunting Ethical?" Put simply, Yes, headhunting is ethical. However, please understand that the usage of the term, "Headhunting" elicits negative thoughts among a good portion of not only the Candidate and Client market, but also the Recruiting market ("Us"!). If you would have posed the question, "Is Executive Recruiting Ethical?", a different picture would have emerged in the mind of the reader (be it conscious or subconscious).

If you are defining headhunting or recruiting as "lying through [their] teeth" or "probing the company until you find your target", then perhaps you have been introduced to unethical techniques or practices. In fact, before I took a second to answer your question, I took a look at your profile and noticed you've been doing this for less than a year. I was interested to see how long you've been in "the game" just to get a feel as to whether your perceptions of recruitment are a function of the office you work in . . . or a long period of negative experiences.

It's like this, Paul: Recruiting or "Headhunting" is a profession in which we truly change people's lives each and every day. If you do it the right way, and focus on creating the right matches instead of forcing deals to make a few dollars (or pounds, in your case), I can't think of many more satisfying roles to be in from a ethical or moral perspective. Kind of changes the way you consider what we do when you look at it from that angle, right?

Now, what I would like to present, Paul, is that while recruiting is ethical, there are individuals that will engage in unethical activity to get the job done. In fact, many offices not only promote these practices, but they furthermore build them into existing processes. As with anything, if you find yourself in a position where you are forced to negotiate compromises with your values, move on. If you stay, given you know what it's going to take to be a contributing member of your office, then the only one you can blame is yourself.
Headhunting in and of itself is neither. There are plenty of ethical, as well as plenty of unethical Headhunters
As many have shared: look in the mirror; examine yourself; ask for feedback from your customers, etc.
The "art" of Recruiting / Headhunting takes on many shapes and forms. As Professionals in the business of changing lives, we should hold ourselves to high standards.
Rayanne, there are a few others . . . but this one has been a leading debate going back as long as I can remember. I know 20-yr+++ recruiters that say the same debate was going on in the early-80s as well :) If RBC wants more traffic, then an immediate magnet is ethical debates . . . with legal debates coming in a close 2nd. Just make sure there is a disclaimer that RBC doesn't condone anything a lawyer recommends on the site because you don't want any liability should someone take any advice and it backfire on them :) (Kind of like Jim Cramer's disclaimer on "Mad Money") :)

"All opinions expressed by Jim Cramer on this show are solely his and do not reflect the opinions of CNBC, NBC UNIVERSAL or their parent company or affiliates. Cramer's opinions are based upon information he considers reliable, but neither CNBC nor its affiliates and/or subsidiaries warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such. Cramer's statements and opinions are subject to change without notice. No part of Cramer's compensation from CNBC is related to the specific opinions he expresses."

Rayanne said:
Hey Paul...
Did you know your simple question, Is Headhunting ethical?, would provide such powerful and emotional responses by so many? Thanks for stirring it up a bit and firing a few RBC synapses...
Karen, yes it has been a while but I can see nothing changes :-)

So did you tell your children when they were young that Santa Claus was coming or did you tell them the truth?

Did your parents lie to you about Santa Claus?

Do you tell your children it's going to really hurt when they visit the dentist or do you tell them that everything will be okay and it won't hurt?

How many candidates do you tell that the company you're representing is the best in their field?

How many customers do you tell that you are the best recruiter they can use for the job? and so on......

All the above examples are degrees of lying and anyone that says they have never said any of the above is urm...lying.

You say that "When one is pretending to be someone you are not.. THAT is FRAUD.. People pretend to be someone they are not all the time and many get into recruitment as we know. The problem is when they can't help it, don't know they are doing it and even believe their own hype. This is not Fraud. It's delutional and has nothing to do with rusing. Rusing to get past a gatekeeper is harmless and is not a big deal so I don't why you try to make it into something.

Recruiting has a bad reputation because of lack of profession when dealing with candidates and customers. Some Recruiters put the fee before the quality of the service they provide and their attitude reflects it. It's not about telling a story to a gatekeeper to get a name. In fact I would bet that most companies wouldn't even know this goes on and only find out because of the anti rusing brigade bad mouthing their own industry to let the world know in the hope that it puts them in a better light with the customer. But you know what? Customers don't really care. They just want the best candidates and they pay big fees to get them. More so than ever in todays climate. Do you have any idea how much lying goes on in the Corporate world today? And do you think they care about their headhunter using a ruse to find them the best candidates?

The original question of "is Headhunting ethical?" depends on who is doing it and how its done.

Headhunting is unethical when you poach from your own clients.

Headhunting is unethical when you deliberately lie to a candidate about a job just to get a fee.

Headhunting is unethical when you lie to your Clients that you can find them the best candidates in the market but all you really do is surf Linkedin or job boards or advertise and present them with the best that come along.

Rusing to get past the gatekeeper is not unethical and is not exclusive to recruiting. It's just a very small part of the cold calling job that has been in any sales business since time began. Analayse the next cold call you receive and see how honest the caller is with you right from the start?

Use rusing or don't use rusing but don't slate those that do use it just because you don't or can't. It's just not that important.
I believe the way to "Heaven" (or Search-Vana) is through making more placements :) Of course, the right kinds of deals where you're helping people help themselves. I'm polytheistic, so I often must sacrifice job-board resumes and clash with HR Krakens from time to time . . . however, I'm eternally hopeful :)

I'm always surprised that recruiters don't know that "Clash of the Titans" was actually a subliminal recruiting training video. Sometimes I'm so lucky as to have the mechanical owl visit me during my toughest assignments :)
Without a doubt I've told a lie. I hope my post didn't come across "holier than thou". The original question was does anyone with a Christian background question their morals. The answer to that is if you are using unethical or dishonest means to an end yes you should be questioning your morals. As I've matured I've found other ways to accomplish the same endgame without having to compromise my values.

With regards to Christianity, I consider myself a man of very deep faith. It hasn't always been like that, but that is who I've grown up to be. I love God and I am thankful that He loves me. But I'm still a sinner, just like everyone else reading this. No better, no worse.

Nick Leslie-Miller said:
Dave Templeman said:
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


Have you ever told a lie?
*Ahem* Hi there. Newbie ringing in. To share a thumbnail of me - I'm an ENFP. Bottom line is I can't work unless there is some greater good. I may be totally naive, but I see Recruiting and Headhunting as different things. I suspect the 'Headhunters' aren't here. In my short education I understand that some people grab butts to put in seats and collect a fee, and (cue windchimes) some people are Recruiters and they find the right candidate for the right position and everyone's happy in the end. That's what I'm being trained to do, in any event. It seems to me that it's what everyone involved in this blog does, as well.

I think I'm really lucky to have entered this field at the level I have. I work with great people who all operate under the Golden Rule (versions of which are found in nearly every organized religions' credo). I'm being schooled in the ways the Golden Rule applies to Recruiting: thank people for referring/applying/helping in any way. When a search has wrapped, we send an email letting everyone involved *know* it's wrapped. We respond to unsolicited resumes and say 'Thanks' and everyone I work with means it. Is this PollyAnnish for this field? If so I know I can't be lured from my job :)

And who are these Evil Gatekeepers? I've had secretaries give me the head's up on where a candidate went when s/he left. I've had operators tell me that particular individual is no longer with the company and when I ask if they would share with me the new person's info, they usually do. I had one 'Evil Gatekeeper' tell me the company was going to be taken over the first of the next month and she gave me the new email syntax! I'm not tracking these things but I'd venture to guess that 85%+ of the interactions I have with gatekeepers are lovely exchanges. I treat them with respect and I find that I usually get what I'm asking for.

I can't lie. Poker is out for me. When I'm cold calling I say, "Nita calling for Mr X" and I get shot through. When/if asked why I'm calling I say, "I need to speak with Mr X about his area of specialty, thank you" and then I usually got shot through. If the gatekeeper continues to resist, and I'm pretty sure most of them are busy people, I'll say, "I'm certain he'd want to speak with me and I'm sure you're busy so you can shoot me directly to voicemail if that gets you off the hook" and bam, I can leave my message. If all that fails, I'm super good at sleuthing and a direct email works ;)

Everyone has pointed out that no one can be forced into a new job. If someone isn't happy at their present place of employment, they're fortunate to be in our sights because we can help them make a change! My husband was cold called for his present position. At home! The timing was amazing. His company was relocating and we didn't want to go along despite a generous offer. The recruiter he worked with was fantastic. I have a friend who would LOVE to find another opportunity right now (director of sales; business side of cable stuff *wink) and I'm trying to help him find Recruiters!

In short, if you're lying and saying "I'm calling from the doctor's office about that problem with his butt" you're probably not reading this, and probably not a nice person all around. Lying to the gatekeeper is maybe one of the nicer things you've done today. IMHO if you've reached a passive (as far as you know) candidate but didn't say, "I'm with XYZ Recruiting and I'm trying to lure your CTO to a better company" ... that's not the same thing as a lie. So -- ethical! Helpful even!

If it is about placing the right candidates and be on the top than I don’t think Headhunting is unethical. In fact that way you are helping some people who are not happy with their current org. and of course you are helping yourself and your company.
Religion and business should not be mixed up with each other again I might be wrong. But I prefer not to mix them.
"As sandra asks so are we going to make lying okay based upon situations? Okay to get past the gatekeeper, but not okay on other situations? Really?

"Anthony, kids and Santa and lying in business business are Way 2 different things. What is the outcome of that lie? What are the repercussions.."

No they are not different things and yes absolutely it is based on situations. Look at the above two sentences again. In the first one you imply that it's not okay to be based upon situation and yet in the second sentence it is okay. The first sentence doesn't involve you but the second one does. I assume from this that you did lie to your children about Santa Claus.

Lets think about the repercussions. The repercussion of me using a story to a gatekeeper is that I get to the candidate. The gatekeeper isn't offended because they don't know anything about it. The candidate is happy because he gets a new job. My Customer is happy because he gets the best candidate and I'm happy because I get my fee. Win Win Win.
The only person that seems unhappy are some of my competitors but do I care about that?

The repercussions of lying to your children about Santa Claus is that they will also lie to their children about Santa Claus and so you have taught them that some situational lying is okay.

Psychologists claim that we tell an average of six lies a day so do you really think that it is not situational?
Tony, time for bed on the other of the pond...

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