Sometimes"Confidential Searches" Aren't Really Confidential

Last week's article (which you can find here https://lnkd.in/dDTEXfP) got a great response and I'm glad so many people found it helpful. I know sometimes my advice seems contrary to what other recruiters may have told you in the past, but that is because I always put the candidate's best interests first...not mine or my agency's. I feel bad when I have someone tell me a story about previous recruiters because even in the beginning, I know where the story is going. For example, over the past several weeks, I have had candidates ask basically the same question, in a few different formats: "Will I know what firm you are sending my resume to?" "Can you tell me the name of the firm?" "I know its probably confidential, but can you tell me the name of the firm anyway?" "Are your searches typically confidential?" "Do your clients require you to sign confidentiality agreements?" I'm going to let you in on a little secret...these searches aren't confidential. At least not at the client's request.

Ok, let me start with this. Are there legitimate confidential searches out there? Yes. But they aren't common. Almost every time the reason for a client requesting confidentiality relates to the sensitivity of a confidential replacement...usually a high level/high visibility role where they cannot afford the current employee finding out. Again, these types of confidential searches are rare, but do occur.

That being said, there are 4 main reasons why recruiters will tell you a search is confidential: 1)They do not trust you to not submit your resume/contact the firm on your own 2)They do not want recruiter competition 3)There really isn’t a specific firm that is looking 4) They know you will say no to the specific firm they are working with. Let’s briefly break down each scenario!

Scenario #1 - Recruiters do not trust candidates. There is a underlying issue that both scenario #1 & #2 share...paranoia. Recruiters are under immense pressure to produce in their high sales/high volume environment. Most agency recruiters are taught to not give up the client name to candidates. One reason is because they do not trust you. Perhaps it is the recruiter's fault for not putting the time and effort into actually building that trust, but that’s beside the point. Some recruiters are afraid that if they tell you the name of the firm that you will then break off all contact with the recruiter and apply to the firm directly, cutting them out of the process (and fee).

Scenario #2 - Recruiters are afraid of other recruiters. Again, recruiters are under a crazy amount of pressure to produce results. They are commission based and firms do not keep recruiters around that do not produce (If you get a chance, any time a recruiter contacts you, before you reply be sure to check out their LinkedIn profile. Make sure they aren't bouncing around from agency to agency. No recruiter willingly changes firms a lot...the pay is practically the same anywhere). Recruiters are afraid to tell you a client's name because they do not want you telling another recruiter. Have you ever spoke to a recruiter and they asked you about where you have sent resumes, had interviews, etc? Agency recruiters are taught to do this to obtain job leads. Some firms/recruiters write down where you have submitted resumes and had interviews, and then they contact those companies and try to get those job orders themselves to work. So as a result, some recruiters tell candidates that jobs are confidential in hopes to minimize the recruiter's competition (Note - This is about the recruiter's competition, not yours. The recruiter will gladly send 100 resumes to the client, not just yours.).

Scenario #3 - There is no actual specific firm. There are several reasons for this. A recruiter might actually be working on a few similar openings and it might be easier to just say a firm is confidential, as opposed to actually take the additional 30 seconds to discuss each firm. There may be no opening at all! Recruiters may be looking to fill their candidate/resume/call quota. Agency recruiters must keep busy by making calls, bringing new resumes/candidates in...easiest way to do that is thru jobs. They believe activity breeds activity, so if it is slow they might go resume fishing and if they actually get a resume, then market that resume around to companies hoping to get a job order out of it.

Scenario #4 - A recruiter is like a salesman/saleswoman...they want you to keep the momentum going and saying "yes." Try to avoid the "no's" as much as possible. Let’s say a recruiter is having a good call or good interview with a candidate, the job sounds great, the candidate sounds like they may be interested, and then the recruiter says the client's name...and everything comes to a screeching halt. The candidate's resume has already been to this firm, or the candidate interviewed there last year...you get the idea. Now the recruiter getting the resume is in jeopardy because the candidate isn't interested in this specific firm. BUT if the recruiter keeps it confidential, they can use that leverage to get the resume from the candidate. There have even been circumstances when a recruiter has kept a firm name confidential BECAUSE THE FIRM HAS A HORRIBLE REPUTATION. As opposed to the candidate issuing a quick "no" upon hearing the firm name, the recruiter actually thinks that if they keep it confidential and submit the resume, they have a small chance of getting the candidate to interview with the bad firm. Hey, some chance is better than a 0% chance, right?

The bottom line is this...most times there really isn't a reason to not tell the candidate who the client is. If it IS a confidential replacement, make sure to get as much info as you can about the confidential client, esp. as it relates to why they are replacing the individual. Otherwise, I am sure that by using good old fashioned common sense, you can see the value of actually knowing WHERE your resume is being submitted: You may have heard things (good and bad), you may know people there, you may have interviewed there, you may have submitted your resume directly, you may *GASP* actually want to research the firm and do your due diligence BEFORE agreeing to have your resume sent somewhere!

Feel free to check out my other articles listed on my profile www.linkedin.com/in/akarpiak and please visit www.karpiakconsulting.com for more info on my company and current searches I am working on. If you have any questions that you would like me to address in future articles, or would just like my advice on something, don't hesitate to email me at akarpiak@karpiakconsulting.com

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