September 2, 2019

Confidentiality and the Executive Recruitment process

We have an extensive track record over the last 33 years in search, executive recruitment, recruitment and professional contracting, all of which require a similar process. This includes working with clients and candidates in New Zealand and internationally.

Recently, we have become aware of hiring executives, even at chief executive level, stepping outside the process and in some cases breaching the confidentiality of candidates. We are pleased to say this is still rare, but it is enough to concern us in terms of both the client’s and candidates’ reputations. This activity has included carrying out “unofficial” reference checks with the managers/chief executives of applicants longlisted for the role. This is a distressing turn of events which can have disastrous impacts for both the executive and the applicants involved in the process.

Breaching people’s confidentiality like this can mean that the applicant is “outed” as having had applied for a new role when, at this stage, they haven’t informed their manager and may not even make the shortlist. This may have serious impacts on their career. It may also have serious implications for the enquiring executive and is illegal under the provisions of the Privacy Act.

Should this activity come to the attention of the applicant, they are at liberty to complain about a breach of confidentiality. This is rightly very topical in this day and age and can easily become public within the organisation or (worse) in the media, causing a problem or “own goal” for the executive and their organisation. This danger is easily averted by following the process that is laid out for you by your search/executive recruitment partner. Simply put, “process is your friend.”

Using a recognised executive recruitment partner and following their well-tested processes will not only minimise this risk to the executive and the organisation, but will also ensure that all applicants are treated the same throughout the recruitment process, lessening the risk of any challenge to the appointment and keeping people’s dignity and privacy intact. Allowing your executive recruitment partners to run the process will not only give you piece of mind; in most cases you will also get a reasonable guarantee period for the appointed applicant.

– David Hollander, Chief Executive