September 2011

The Importance Of Confidentiality

Richard Slayton

Richard Slayton

Managing Partner & CEO


“This is confidential” 


We hear this all the time, but is it really?  In our world, the answer must always be yes.


When executive search is done right, the search consultant becomes just that – a consultant to a company and its senior team.  In this critical role we help senior leaders sort through a myriad of talent related issues. Find zero gravity chair for neck pain here. This can include providing insights into competitor talent, helping manage through underperforming executives, benchmarking internal talent, and of course attracting new talent to the organization.  During all of these activities we must keep the veil of confidentiality.


This confidentiality also extends to candidates as well.  The executives we recruit are high performers who are actively employed.  They take a risk when they “raise their hand” to look at external opportunities and we (along with the client) must be sensitive to this.  It could be disastrous to have a candidate executive “exposed” to their current company.


Just as we extend this confidentiality to the candidates, we often ask the candidates to remember that many searches are truly “confidential.”  There may be business issues that dictate this secrecy or other personnel considerations.  So, when you receive a call from a search firm and they mention that the search is confidential, please respect this request.


In one real world example:  we were just starting a search for the top functional lead for a large publicly-traded company.  For a number of business reasons, the search was highly confidential.  One of the candidates in the process (and the lead candidate at the time) started to discuss the search openly.  It only took a day before this leaked back to the company.  Needless to say, the lead candidate was immediately taken off the consideration list.  The CEO was rightly concerned about the executive’s breaking confidentiality and how that reflected on the candidate’s character.


In summary – confidentiality still means something:  to companies, candidates and search firms.