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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So much twisting and turning in the wind...
"If you shut the door to all errors, truth will be shut out." ~ Rabindranath Tagore

What Good Is a List of Names?
I think headhunting is ethical to some extent...i belive you just trying to reach someone to give him a better oppurtunity which he is not aware about..at the end of the day, the decision comes from the candidate...i belive most of the recruiters will not lying to harm anyone......but definitely there has to be line between ethical headhunting and unethical headhunting......anyhow this topic is something which not many are thought of....
Sandra, in the last few weeks in the UK a well known radio host was sacked for insulting a Council official live on air and rightly so for what he called him. The discussion which was unrelated to the insults was about smokers not being allowed to Foster Children after 2010 in the UK because it was unhealthy for the children. The argument in favour of the smokers was that if they cared enough about the children to foster, which clearly they do, they would be responsible enough to smoke outside the house rather than in front of the children. Therefore the children should not be denied a good home based on this factor.

The council officer argued back that some of the smokers in his office who are supposed to smoke outside the building they work in have occasionally been caught having a crafty smoke inside their own offices. He therefore concluded that all smokers were devious and all foster parents that smoke would obviously smoke indoors and could not be trusted to foster. In other words he was judging all foster parents that smoke and who he didn’t know, based upon a few people he worked with who were not even foster parents. He decided that if someone smoked at all, they would lie about their smoking habits over and above the health of the children they wanted to help and this was enough to deny them offering a home to needy children.

My point is that by using a ruse to get past a gatekeeper does not make the person unethical or a compulsive liar in all aspects of their business or indeed make the business a deceitful one, no more than being a smoker makes you an unsuitable foster parent.

If I do use a harmless ruse to get past the gatekeeper, it is no big deal because I don't lie to my candidate or my Customer in any way.

On the other hand, to lie to a candidate about why they were rejected is in my opinion far worse but it seems far more acceptable.
Have to agree with Maureen........"A list of names" is everything in recruiting and why I'm often up till 11:30-Midnight doing my own sourcing and recruiting. It's time consuming. IMO, any effectively way getting you to "the names" is fine, but one best not lie to the recruit once you speak with him/her.

One other thing. I've only been able to attend a few noon and/or midnight meetings Maureen Sharib conducts with the Recruiting Animal but I read every blog transcript of what transpired that evening, learned a great deal over the months, and would take seriously any words of wisdom she possesses on how to effectively execute the sourcing process.

Bill
Sure, if I have a "warm" name or two it really helps. But it's rare to find people who help you to that degree, unless you're doing something directly for them at that moment--and even then they often won't help you. Sure, if every call I made was to a friendly candidate it would be optimal--it just isn't reality, at least not in my world.

Reality to me is working long hard hours to put together enough of "a list of cold names" to call out of a competitor the following day to give me a full 3 1/2 to 4 hours of recruiting--the more in my specific niche area the better. All are asked and few, if any, help me in my networking either only concerned about themself or deeming it "inappropriate" or "uncomfortable" to give names of fellow employees. So my "list of names" that I or an expert sourcer like Maureen Sharib comes up with is what I have......and in this challenging employment environment/economic time increased volume of calls (one's own efforts) is all I have.

Your recruit experience and my 29 years of recruit experience have zero commonality.

Just my two cents.

Bill
"...a list of cold names" to call out of a competitor the following day to give me a full 3 1/2 to 4 hours of recruiting..."

Powerful stuff Bill, isn't it?
Karen, thanks for turning me onto the study referenced. I went to the link and read what the basis for the study was, because you know me - I'm a stickler for statistics. Well, in this case, the blogger is a Professor of Business Ethics at DePaul (technically, Thomas O'Brien is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies) - as such, of course he's going to be looking for supporting information. I mention this because I also took a Business Ethics course in grad school and the Professor had a PhD in Theology - we spent most of our time discussing "Dune" and speaking of virtuous character, Kant's categorical imperative, asceticism, etc.

Anyway, for a meta-study to be conclusive, we must first assume that the studies originally taken into account are correct, which is debatable. Based upon digging into this meta-study further, I see that the majority of data investigated involved environmental responsibility (at least more so than social responsibility, which some would argue 'may' be correlated to some degree, however).

The best insight offered is that there are several theories surrounding why 'socially responsible' or 'environmentally responsible' companies 'perform' better (which begs the question, over what period of time? what sector were the companies in? was the sample size representative of all sectors . . . or only some? As you can see, this is why statistical studies often miss the boat.) One theory suggests that these high-performing companies have good managers, another suggests "the causation going the other way: financially successful firms have more resources for social activities."

At the end of the day, I agree with all who say that there is more to be gained through truth and integrity. However, for a Professor to suggest something as "absolute, definitive proof" is insulting to our intelligence. Anyway, great information - thanks for bringing my attention to it. Frankly, we could use more data and research because education frees the mind.

KarenM / Hirecentrix.com said:
Holy Grail Found
Absolute, definitive proof that responsible companies perform better financially
By Marjorie Kelly http://buseth.blogspot.com/2005/02/holy-grail-foundsocial-and.html
Bill & Karen, this post is not meant to agree with either of you in absolute fashion. Personally, I think both apply. My vision of Nirvana is to be so niched that all I have to do is pick up a phone and know exactly who to call - sometimes, I can pull it off. Other times, I can't. What I do observe is that most high-performing 20+yr Exec Recruiters make much more 'touching base' calls because they know all the movers/shakers in their respective markets. However, there are times when this isn't possible - sometimes I think we must be able to reinvent ourselves and move slightly to the left or right of our markets, depending on where the demand and growth is.

I can also personally attest that sometimes, being very niched can be a bain as much as it can be a bain (i.e. are we niched in a high growth segment that will be around for a while, etc.?) So what I'm suggesting is that you're both right, depending on situation. If you're entering a new niche . . . or don't have contacts or a reputation, then building a list through web research and phone research is necessary. Even if you are niched, there is surely a business case for keeping up with all kinds of research because things change. As a matter of fact, Rice & Cohen, as well as Peter Lefkowitz, advocate taking time out of each week to call your 'alumni' (people you have placed or have rapport or a great deal of respect for). This is likely analogous to the "Apple Orchard" approach, at least to some degree. It just makes good business sense.

I understand that you two are both Sr Exec Recruiters that have two different ways of looking at recruiting (i.e. "zero commonality"), however there is more than one way to skin a cat and I imagine you're both great in your approach. Also consider that you likely recruit in different sectors/geographies, and you have differing genders and perhaps are different generationally. I'm 33, and I can assure you there are mid-20-somethings that look at recruiting way differently - I learn from them as much as I learn from retired recruiters. Anyway, just my $0.02 - I think you both have a great deal to offer given your experience.

bill josephson said:
Sure, if I have a "warm" name or two it really helps. But it's rare to find people who help you to that degree, unless you're doing something directly for them at that moment--and even then they often won't help you. Sure, if every call I made was to a friendly candidate it would be optimal--it just isn't reality, at least not in my world.

Reality to me is working long hard hours to put together enough of "a list of cold names" to call out of a competitor the following day to give me a full 3 1/2 to 4 hours of recruiting--the more in my specific niche area the better. All are asked and few, if any, help me in my networking either only concerned about themself or deeming it "inappropriate" or "uncomfortable" to give names of fellow employees. So my "list of names" that I or an expert sourcer like Maureen Sharib comes up with is what I have......and in this challenging employment environment/economic time increased volume of calls (one's own efforts) is all I have.

Your recruit experience and my 29 years of recruit experience have zero commonality.

Just my two cents.

Bill
Joshua, You raise a valid point about "touching base" calls and adroitly mention "niche changes" or "reinventions."

In 2003 I left Information Technology recruiting after 20 years in it "touching base" repeatedly with contacts built up over time, including years of sourcing/cold call recruiting. At all points of those 20 years I found cold call recruiting envaluable to sustain a growing network list.

For the last 5 years it's been Defense Engineering and am working harder than ever building my network. Safety/security is in number of calls.....one's own efforts, as I can't count on anything else but that "list of names" Maureen sagely talks about and my efforts to contact every single one of them during the course of a day.

Just my two cents.

Bill
Karen, I only phone recruit for passive candidates--no low hanging fruit as that's what companies find.

The only reason they work with me is they know I literally surprise "passive" candidates at their desks encouraging them to consider comparing another opportunity to their present one being in their interests in order to best navigate their career. And at the end of the day they'll either decide to accept an offer if extended in their best interests, or it re-confirms that their present situation is where they should remain.

My mission it solely to give companies access to candidates they otherwise wouldn't have had on their own.

My two cents.

Bill
I see the topic has now shifted just a bit and is really turning into "my way is better than your way". So OK. I'm always into hearing about better ways. We all are.

Karen - care to share some real data with us? As in - what makes you believe your way is "Better" and "Easier"? For the record - I really don't see the need to lie to anyone in my approach.

It's pretty easy to jump onto RBC and make a variey of claims about one's individual success. I'd like to see a bit more than emotion if this thread continues.

How many placements are you making each month? How about some other stats....like #send outs per placements - #offers to acceptance/starts, etc. You are claiming your way is the best so please share with us how you are quantifying that success beyond just "feeling" like it's better.

Let's get real with this or shut it down.
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?

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