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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OK, I had intentionally stayed away from the conversation after seeing the original first page replies. I had a feeling I would get wrapped into this. Sure as heck, I spent the past 45 minutes or so reading and thinking about this.

A question, how do you define:

-Headhunter
-Recruiter
-Search Consultant
-(enter other title here)

?

I ask because (for me) they are all the same. How you react to each title may be different but at the end of the day we help our clients find talented folks they cannot or unable find on their own.

I have known mostly ethical Headhunter/Recruiter/Search Consultant/(enter other title here). I have known a few unethical Headhunter/Recruiters/Search Consultant/(enter other title here).

Have any of you known those who go by Headhunter to be more or less ethical than a Search Consultant or Recruiter?
As Nick knows, John 8:7-11 is about a woman accused of adultery, a crime if committed being one that betrays the trust of a sacred vow. As someone who has been involved in recruiting for 20 years, my vow is to my company, my hiring manager, my candidates, my relationships, and to myself. How I choose to do it will never be judged by a government agency, a professional association, or even a sanctimonious blog thread squatter who has a history of attempting to impose their value system - and supposed success - on others without ever offering data that passes more than the smell test.

So many of us who began on the nascent ERE and freely gave away "secrets" and techniques and documents, did so without monetizing because we love this profession; I suppose the new model is to tease someone in with a free webinar with the hopes of locking these viewers down to other classes that will cost them. Of course this isn't rusing...

So for the n-th year in a row, this topic simply smells bad.

Nick Leslie-Miller said:
Very pious. Who was it that said "he who is without sin cast the first stone"?
Sheila said:
Such an interesting question. As a professional, I find that there is no need to lie. I don't find gatekeepers particularly a problem. My approach is straight forward. If for example the person I am seeking no longer works there - I simply ask, do you know who replaced him/her? You generally get the answer. If I am calling about a position and I don't know who holds that position, I simply ask who it is and I am told who that person is.

Lying is so "Willie Lohman" and out of step. It takes you from being a solution provider to being an amateur salesperson...like the used car salesman of old. There are too many tools available to feel the need to resort to lying as a way of life. We have worked very hard to change the image of our profession to once again reduce ourselves to being mere peddlers in the marketplace.

We are professionals who provide meaningful solutions and who solve problems. Yesterday's salesperson tried to *trick* you into buying and nearly always lost in the end when the item was returned due to buyer's remorse. Gatekeepers see that person coming long before they get there and they are not welcomed.

The question to me is, what is wrong with your product or your sales prowess that you *need* to resort to lying?
Easy question and one in the same with the morph of this blog (ethics and the best way to recruit): Headhunting is ethical when performed by ethical people from ethical firms...unfortunately many are less than completely above board.

Recruiting can be done through honest research, targeting and sourcing for referrals. As far as the gatekeeper, how about this...she asks who's calling and from where...I say, Pete Bianco from benchmark Executive Search and we are conducting an important search and wanted to see if Mr. So and so would be able to help with any referrals (works most of the time...typically gets me thru...if not try calling after the gatekeeper leaves and catch the target answering their own phone) indirect recruiting aka sourcing is the ethical way to search for referrals and often the source of referrals will put their hat in the ring too. No lies. Obviously this does not work for recruiting engineers and the like...

The target will likely know you lied to get through and will not typically be receptive to the technique...you start with no credibility.

Hence the ethical way is the better way...all people appreciate honesty. BTW, I am no boyscout...but I do draw the line firmly.
Peter Bianco said:
Easy question: Headhunting is ethical when performed by ethical people from ethical firms...unfortunately many are less than completely above board.

Recruiting can be done through honest research, targeting and sourcing for referrals. As far as the gatekeeper, how about this...she asks who's calling and from where...I say, Pete Bianco from benchmark Executive Search and we are conducting an important search and wanted to see if Mr. So ans so would be able to help with any referrals (works most of the time...typically gets me thru...if not try calling after the gatekeeper leaves and catch the target answering their own phone) indirect recruiting aka sourcing is the ethical way to search for referrals and often the source of referrals will put their hat in the ring too. No lies.

The target will likely know you lied to get through and will not typically be receptive to the technique...you start with no credibility.
Have to agree 100% with Nick. As a recruiter doing my own sourcing the means by how I get the names of my candidate prospects has no bearing whatsoever on our business relationship once established. I'm telling the candidates/prospects what's helpful for them to know to move the process--certainly not everything--truthfully. If it's a question not in my interest to answer, I won't forthcomingly answer it. Since all my recruit calls are to passive candidates I'm literally surprising at their desks everyone wants to know how I found them. All I tell them is "internal networking over the phone." My clients I'm far more forthcoming with as I work for them and long after any candidate is gone I'd like to continue doing so.

What some need to bear in mind is most everyone involved in the sourcing/recruiting process is looking out for their own interests including candidates/prospects that don't often don't coincide with mine. The quest is in effectively finding qualified passive candidates and few are willing to help you.....best exceptions are other candidates/prospects you're doing or have done something for in the past. People are mostly 'all about them,' exclusively.

Finally, as long as neither my clients nor myself are publicly disgraced and/or legally implicated in my sourcing/recruiting efforts to assist them they couldn't care less how I find candidates for them. They're mostly all ex agency people knowing full well how the game is really played and what I need to do. They know the process isn't pretty and comparable to legal corporate espionage. We're in a survivalist industry comprised of some of the most mentally tough, creative, persistent, intelligent, self-reliant, empathetic, wise, and savvy risk taking entrepreneurs one can find as all we really have is our faith in ourselves, hopefully family (glad I do) support, and our God to rely on.

Just my two cents.

Bill
Nick,

If lying works for you, so be it. Do *you*.

But having been a researcher over 8 years, I acquired tools early on that I have used to get me those highly prized names. And I also use the very simple "technique" of asking the question. If that doesn't work, I write letters...Snail mail. I read, Nick. I read White Papers, Press Releases. Web sites. I go to auto shows...well, I go there because I love cars but, you get my gist. For me, it's the thrill of the chase, Nick. I try never to go into battle unarmed.

Not pious Nick. Just straight forward.



Nick Leslie-Miller said:
Very pious. Who was it that said "he who is without sin cast the first stone"?
Sheila said:
Such an interesting question. As a professional, I find that there is no need to lie. I don't find gatekeepers particularly a problem. My approach is straight forward. If for example the person I am seeking no longer works there - I simply ask, do you know who replaced him/her? You generally get the answer. If I am calling about a position and I don't know who holds that position, I simply ask who it is and I am told who that person is.

Lying is so "Willie Lohman" and out of step. It takes you from being a solution provider to being an amateur salesperson...like the used car salesman of old. There are too many tools available to feel the need to resort to lying as a way of life. We have worked very hard to change the image of our profession to once again reduce ourselves to being mere peddlers in the marketplace.

We are professionals who provide meaningful solutions and who solve problems. Yesterday's salesperson tried to *trick* you into buying and nearly always lost in the end when the item was returned due to buyer's remorse. Gatekeepers see that person coming long before they get there and they are not welcomed.

The question to me is, what is wrong with your product or your sales prowess that you *need* to resort to lying?
LinkedIn discussion on same/related subject.
Sheila-Just to be safe (even Bill Clinton has agreed to disclose his donor list), can you edit your RBC account to include your last name?

Thanks from the ethical side of our profession...

Sheila said:
Nick,

If lying works for you, so be it. Do *you*.

But having been a researcher over 8 years, I acquired tools early on that I have used to get me those highly prized names. And I also use the very simple "technique" of asking the question. If that doesn't work, I write letters...Snail mail. I read, Nick. I read White Papers, Press Releases. Web sites. I go to auto shows...well, I go there because I love cars but, you get my gist. For me, it's the thrill of the chase, Nick. I try never to go into battle unarmed.

Not pious Nick. Just straight forward.

perhaps this is a rationalization, but offering someone a better opportunity is not unethical.
Whether Christian, Hindu, Muslim, helping others is a good thing.
It's an individual's choice to listen and act. We are not the devil tempting them.
cj
That fact that this is even been questioned sais to me that you all know it's not ethical.

Recruiters are in the business of sales, not HR. Having an extra middle person is just annoying for the employer and the job seeker.

I do think there are some good recruiters out there. I respect mature recruiters that have work experience outside of recruitment but the industry has become a bit of a joke.

If recruitment firms want to have a good reputation then they shouldn't hire 26 year old's that think they know everything because they have a diploma.
I've been recruiting for 29 years. The reason companies utilize me is I only recruit passive candidates over the phone adding value to their own efforts giving them access to candidates they wouldn't have readily gained access to on their own.

Anyone thinking headhunting is unethical shouldn't be in the profession. If you believe soliciting company employees about career advancing opportunities are unethical/off limits, recruiting is not for you. It's true no company wants to be recruited from, all will try in their own manner nicely or otherwise to get us to cease and desist, and will make it as tough as possible for us to succeed specially when feeling our headhunting presence.

Bottom line, this is not a profession for everyone. Every one of us still in the business is doing something right and should be commended with the dearth of paying clients and candidate reticence changing jobs in an economic recession. I place pressure on myself to be sharp, upbeat, short hard hitting and interesting with recruit pitches, and at all times professional in every single call I make. Making tons of cold calls we suffer every indignity one can possibly suffer on a telephone yet always come back. The unprofessional recruiters you refer to won't last......even most of my respected hard fought competitors from the 1980's are gone from the business as the last 2001 recession killed them with our corporate "jobless recovery."

The reality is my role is the most personal touch a candidate and company have in the process as I'm actually talking with both on the phone instead of email black-holedom. I would hate to be a rookie today.

Bill
This question being tied to religion is ridiculous. I know many religious people who have NO moral integrity. I have been recruiting for over 15 years first in an agency setting and than in corporate America and I provide a service. I treat each person with respect and attempt to provide an opportunity. If they are interested that usually means they are not happy in their current position so would be looking anyway. I am actually offended by your question!

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