Episode #15 – How to Conduct a Confidential Job Search

How to Conduct a Confidential Job Search-Podcast #15

Samantha: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help organizations acquire top talent, while helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about how to conduct a confidential job search and how a recruiter can help. Hello, Stacy. Thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, I’m glad to be here today.

Samantha: Let’s start with a definition. What exactly is a confidential job search?

Stacy: Well, a confidential job search is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when somebody is looking for a new job or better employment opportunity, but they don’t want anybody to know about it.

Samantha: Not all people conduct confidential searches, is that right?

Stacy: That’s correct. For example, people who are unemployed rarely undergo a confidential search. That’s primarily because they’re not afraid of their employer finding out.

There are even some people who are employed who don’t look for a job confidentially. Either they’re not afraid of their employer finding out or they’re not afraid of reprisals. But there are many people who are currently employed who will only look for a job on a confidential basis.

Samantha: Can you give an example of somebody who would do this?

Stacy: I sure can. We’ve talked before in our podcast about active job seekers and passive candidates. Passive candidates are people who are not actively looking for a new job, but who would be open to considering a move if it was better than the one they currently have.

Let’s say a passive candidate comes across a new opportunity and that opportunity is better than what they have. In many cases, the only way the person will pursue the opportunity is if it’s done confidentially. In other words, they do not want their current employer to find out they’re considering or exploring another opportunity. That way, if they do not ultimately land the opportunity, their current position and situation will be safe.

Samantha: So if there are people in our audience today who were in that position, what advice would you give to them?

Stacy: I have plenty of advice for them, starting with three tips.

The first tip is to not use company tools or resources to pursue the opportunity. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I have to mention it. Don’t use your company’s email account or telephone, and don’t use its Internet connection. Use your personal email account or create a separate one, and use your cell phone for calls.

Second, be careful when asking others for a reference. Of course, you want to use people who will speak highly of you, your skills, and your expertise. However, you also want to choose people you can trust to keep your search confidential. If you doubt their ability to keep their lips sealed about your search, then you should think twice about asking them for a reference.

Third, schedule your interviews wisely. This goes for both phone interviews and face-to-face interviews. Schedule phone interviews off company time, if possible. During your lunch hour might be a good time, if you can find a suitable location. Face-to-face interviews are trickier. Using your vacation time is certainly an option, but be careful not to arouse suspicion by scheduling interviews too closely together.

Samantha: As a recruiter for more than 20 years, you’ve worked with candidates on hundreds of confidential searches. Does it make more sense for a person who wants to conduct a confidential search to do so with a recruiter?

Stacy: Yes, it makes more sense to do it that way. A person can conduct a confidential search on their own, but there’s only so far they can go by themselves. Partnering with a recruiter can help maximize the results of a confidential job search.

Samantha: Why is that the case?

Stacy: There are a few reasons. First, recruiters are accustomed to working in a confidential fashion. They work that way with their clients on high-level searches. Their clients demand a level of confidentiality from them. Second, they work with candidates on a confidential basis all the time. It’s almost like it’s their “default setting.”

Third, you have to remember that you’re competing against other people. When you work with a recruiter on a confidential search, you’re gaining an advantage over those people who choose not to. So just remember that if you decide not to use a recruiter for your job search, you’re probably competing against somebody who IS using a recruiter.

Samantha: What are some of the other reasons that people should work with a recruiter on a confidential job search?

Stacy: I have four more reasons why you should work with a recruiter confidentially.

First, a recruiter already has a working relationship with companies in the industry. They already know the hiring authorities at these companies. Chances are good that you do not have these types of relationships. You must remember that these hiring authorities and these companies trust the judgment of their recruiters. After all, they’re paying them for that judgment. A recruiter can often help you to get your foot in the door when you’re not able to do that for yourself.

Second, you don’t have to worry about where your resume is going. Conducting a confidential job search means keeping track of the paper trail. When you give your resume to a recruiter, you know that the resume will only be shared on a confidential basis with that recruiter’s clients. It won’t be floating around on the Internet, waiting for the wrong person to find it.

Third, a recruiter can sometimes provide special accommodations. As I mentioned, recruiters already have a relationship with their clients. Because of that, they can make special requests to ensure even more confidentiality. For example, if dressing up in a professional fashion at work in advance of an interview would tip off your current employer, the recruiter can explain the situation and set up a “business casual” interview for you instead.

Fourth, a recruiter will not waste your time. That’s because if a recruiter wastes your time, that means they’re also wasting their own time. Recruiters do not want to waste their time. It’s in their best interests to value your time as much as they value their own.

Samantha: That last point definitely makes sense if a candidate is worried that somebody is going to catch them doing a job search. If the recruiter is doing all of the footwork, then the candidate doesn’t have to devote a ton of time to the search.

Stacy: That’s right! And that works in the candidate’s favor in more ways than one, starting with the fact that recruiters know how to navigate the Human Resources department better than candidates. Many times, candidates risk getting stuck in what I call a “job search black hole” when they attempt to find a job through avenues other than by using a recruiter. That can lead to a lot of wasted time and frustration.

Samantha: You mentioned earlier that a recruiter knows more about the employer and hiring manager than the candidate does. What other valuable information does a recruiter have?

Stacy: Well, this one may seem obvious, but the recruiter more than likely has insider information about the job opening. This is especially the case if they’ve worked with the organization and hiring manager over a long period of time. They may have even placed the person who was in the position previously.

Since the recruiter has insider information about the position, they can pass that information along to the candidate. This is information the candidate would not have gained on their own, if they had not used a recruiter for their search. It’s information that will help the candidate make better decisions and make them more quickly.

Samantha: It seems like job seekers save a ton of time and energy by using a recruiter.

Stacy: They do. And not only are recruiters able to save candidates’ time and energy by providing them with important information, but they also position them much better during the hiring process.

Samantha: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: A recruiter’s endorsement of you means more to the company than you just “tooting your own horn.” The hiring authority knows who the recruiter is, and they probably don’t even know who you are. That means they value the opinion of the recruiter more than they value the opinion of the candidate, which is why you want the recruiter on your side.

Samantha: So you have a much better chance of standing out from the crowd with a recruiter?

Stacy: That’s right. If you’re competing against other job seekers and they’re not represented by a recruiter, you immediately have an advantage over them. Since the recruiter has knowledge of the company, the position, and the hiring manager, they can tailor the candidate’s skills and abilities to the position. This helps to enhance the person’s candidacy.

Samantha: I’ve heard that companies sometimes shy away from choosing a candidate who’s presented by a recruiter because they don’t want to pay the recruiter’s fee. Is that true?

Stacy: Organizations do not engage recruiters so they can avoid paying their fee. They engage recruiters because they want the best candidates in the marketplace. They are willing to pay a recruiter’s fee so they can have access to those candidates. Without the recruiter, they don’t have that access.

Job seekers should not be fooled into thinking that companies will steer clear of a candidate represented by a recruiter simply because of the fee. Keeping a position open for too long or even worse, hiring the wrong person, is far more costly than paying a recruiter’s fee. If you’re the right person, the company will want to hire you—period.

Samantha: Stacy, is there anything else you’d like to add as we wrap up today’s podcast?

Stacy: Yes, do NOT work with just any recruiter. They are not all alike. You must find the best and most respected recruiter in your field, one who has a track record of placing people just like you in the companies most sought after by candidates.

Once you find such a recruiter, listen to their advice, both regarding your career and the hiring process. They have the expertise, experience, and ability to help you find your dream job.

Samantha: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Samantha. I look forward to our next podcast!