Posted by Lawrence Bond September 19, 2023
Is your confidential recruitment REALLY confidential?
We heard a horror story recently which really puts this article into perspective.
Our client had spoken to both ourselves and another reputable consultancy about a ‘confidential’ campaign. When we informed him that we ALREADY knew he was recruiting he was amazed and extremely concerned so we showed him our competitor’s advert we’d seen that morning.
The advert had several distinguishing factors that clearly identified them including their sector, location and some very specific details, making it extremely clear who they were. The inclusion of these details would not have caused more candidates to apply for the role, however it is indicative of a ‘typical’ agency/consultant approach and that obviously left the client exposed.
There are numerous reasons why a company would want their recruitment to be confidential and regardless of that reason, there are a number of factors to take into account.
Who knows that you want to recruit?
People talk, so the fewer stakeholders involved the better. Before you embark on this project make sure you consider who needs to be aware. Ensure they are trusted employees, stakeholders or, where necessary, external providers and then develop a clear plan so your expectations are clear and mistakes are avoided. Although obvious, ensure they are fully aware of the importance in maintaining confidentiality and the damage that ‘loose talk’ could have.
From experience, you need to be VERY careful who you talk to and only engage with trusted and reliable contacts.
Depending on the sensitivity of the situation your internal resources, you could well require some form of additional, external support, even to ensure that the candidate search protects your anonymity and your company name. Don’t talk to more ‘outsiders’ than absolutely necessary. If there is someone in the role, ensure you take HR advice aside from any legal, accounting and additional input. Again, ensure that your advisers are experienced in this field and are trusted, whether from previous relationships or recommendation.
Always stress the confidential nature of the campaign to everyone who is involved and engaged. If the external contacts are unaware of the situation and reasons for it, honest mistakes can happen. As with so many areas, communication is key.
When engaged on a confidential campaign, we clearly take a different approach to a brand awareness process. In order to ensure that we control the flow the information, we tend to operate on a retained or ‘retained-light’ basis. If you or the recruiting contact within your business hasn’t worked on this basis previously, the concept may not be something that’s fully understood and some recruiters think that this is for the benefit of the consultancy. The reality of the situation is that where you have a trusted partner, this is normally the best solution. As the external partner, it enables us to gain full control of the flow of information, dedicate the time required to research the market, interview, re-interview etc. We can work specifically for this position, headhunt and build a rapport with ‘target’ candidates that will subsequently engender trust. It enable us to represent our client in the best light, consult and advise effectively. At all times, ‘our Client’ remains anonymous.
Any adverts, whether to passive or active candidates are very carefully written and approved by the end Client. They have to be appealing to the target audience whilst remaining generic enough to maintain confidentiality. Any short-lists from search activity have to be checked by our Client for existing relationships/knowledge. Non-disclosure agreements need administering and reinforcing given how ‘challenging’ they are to enforce.
Our contact, interviews and all touch-points, have to ‘sell’ the opportunity and create interest and excitement, whilst maintaining confidentiality and off-site initial meetings are an obvious way to avoid any awkward questions about a flurry of meetings that look suspiciously like interviews.
We even discuss the safest email addresses to use, the best times to speak and a number of practical, but important factors.
Using highly experienced experts in the required discipline also increases the likelihood of the consultancy sourcing suitable applicants from within their network as opposed to ‘going to market’. Again, the tighter the circle, the easier it is to control the flow of information.
Realising the above, often means that everyone is aware of the challenges being dealt with by all of the other parties and, as a result of this and strong communication, you will often get a more productive, stress free result.
All of us at BondMoran have over 20 years experience of consulting and recruiting senior levels. We have run SME’s ourselves, we know the challenges and pitfalls to be aware of and we are happy to offer our advice. If your role is not within finance, we will also connect you with other highly experienced specialists in the relevant discipline.
This may be your first ‘confidential campaign’, however we are highly experienced in delivering this service and we are always happy to advise, consult and help.
If you want to use us as a sounding board, talk about any recruitment or retention situations, get in touch and it goes without saying … all of our conversations are STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL!!