Episode #94 – The Elephant in the Room: The Name of the Employer That’s Hiring

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

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about disclosing the name of the employer that’s hiring to job seekers and potential candidates. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

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

Samantha: Stacy, I imagine that you’ve encountered quite a few candidates during the course of your career who have asked about the name of the employer once you presented them with an employment opportunity. Is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, it has happened countless times during my career and it continues to happen. That’s why I wanted to devote an episode of our podcast to the topic. I want to dispel notions and assumptions that some professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession might have.

Samantha: Isn’t it understandable that a candidate would want to know the name of the organization that has the job opening?

Stacy: Yes, it is understandable. If it’s an active job seeker, that means they’re in the midst of a job search, which can be an emotional situation. If it’s a passive candidate, that means they’re looking for reasons to consider the opportunity, and the name of the employer might be one of them.

However, what job seekers and candidates must understand is that if a recruiter does not immediately disclose the name of the employer when presenting an opportunity, that doesn’t mean the recruiter is trying to be sneaky about the whole thing. In other words, the recruiter is not trying to “keep you in the dark.”

Samantha: Stacy, what does that mean, exactly?

Stacy: Well, there are some very specific reasons why a recruiter will not immediately disclose the name of the employer.

Samantha: What are those reasons?

Stacy: The first reason is that there may be confidential circumstances surrounding the search.

Samantha: That makes sense, doesn’t it? One of the reasons that Animal Health and Veterinary employers use recruiters is because of confidentiality.

Stacy: Yes, that’s absolutely right! If a recruiter contacts you about an opportunity, chances are good that the search is being conducted on a confidential basis. That means the employer is the one that wants to keep the search a secret. After all, the employer could be replacing an underperforming employee or “hiring under the radar,” so to speak.

Samantha: What does that mean, “hiring under the radar”?

Stacy: I have a story that illustrates what that means. There was an organization who wanted to build a sales force in the Veterinary Industry, but it didn’t want its competitors to know what they were doing. So the organization hired our search firm, The VET Recruiter, to build a nationwide sales force. We had to secretly recruit these individuals under the radar without letting anyone know what we were doing. As a result, these positions were not posted anywhere, and they could only be found by working with our recruiting agency. This was a search to fill multiple positions that were 100% confidential. We were not allowed to tell the candidates the name of the employer until the day before the interviews took place.

The point is that some employers do NOT want their recruiter to disclose its identity until a certain point in the hiring process.

Samantha: And the recruiter must honor that request?

Stacy: Of course! The recruiter must honor that request.

Samantha: Stacy, what’s the second reason?

Stacy: The second reason is that timing is everything during the hiring process. Obviously, the recruiter is not going to keep the name of the employer confidential forever. If you have a face-to-face interview, then you’re going to know who the employer is. What’s important is that there’s a specific timeline in place for everything. In other words, there’s a time and place for revealing the name of the organization with the opportunity.

Samantha: Because that’s the way the employer wants it, right?

Stacy: That’s right. Now, from a candidate’s perspective, they might believe that revealing the name of the employer early in the process is the right thing to do. However, if the employer does not believe it’s appropriate, then it’s not appropriate. After all, it’s their job and their open position. They can do with it what they want and they can approach their search in whatever fashion they see fit.

The organization is seeking qualified and interested individuals. Once those candidates are identified and agree to join the hiring process, then those candidates are one step closer to knowing the name of the employer. The employer also wants to make sure the search consultant has fully qualified the candidates prior to revealing the name of the employer to them. They don’t want to bother with communicating with unqualified candidates.

Samantha: Stacy, what’s our third reason?

Stacy: Our third reason is that it would be a bad idea for a candidate to circumvent the hiring process.

Samantha: What do you mean by circumvent?

Stacy: I mean attempt to go around the recruiter and contact the organization directly, specifically the hiring manager. Some candidates believe that doing this will somehow enhance their candidacy. I can not stress enough that this is not the case!

First, it’s simply not proper or ethical to circumvent the search professional who informed you of the opportunity in the first place. That’s what the hiring manager is going to think. They’re not going to think that you’re smart or savvy or a “go-getter.” And that leads me to my second point, which is that going around the recruiter is not going to give you an edge or help you “get your foot in the door.”

In fact, just the opposite is often the case, and I have a story that illustrates this, too. I once had a candidate call the hiring manager of one of my clients on their cell phone after hours. The hiring manager was not happy about it. He called me and said he was not going to consider the candidate for the position any longer. He said it was unprofessional for the candidate to go around me and contact him directly.

Samantha: Stacy, the employer hired the recruiter. Since that’s the case, why would a candidate think that the hiring manager would want them to circumvent the process and go around the recruiter?

Stacy: That is a great point, and it’s something that I wished more job seekers and candidates realized. Organizations rely heavily on the judgment of the search consultants they hire. Just like in my story, if you go around the recruiter that the client trusts and contact the client yourself, you may not be considered for the position.

Not only that, but the recruiter may also take you off their list of candidates to contact for future opportunities. So as you can see, it’s clearly not worth it.

I’d also like to reference a book that tackles this topic.

Samantha: Which book is that?

Stacy: The title of the book is Be Hunted and it’s by Smooch Reynolds.

Samantha: Smooch?

Stacy: Yes, I know it sounds odd, but the author’s name is Smooch, and she’s also a search consultant. According to Smooch, there are two rules in this type of situation.

First, don’t ask the search consultant for the name of their client. Second, the search consultant will tell you the name of their client when they believe the time is right and when it’s appropriate. This is exactly what we’ve been discussing today, but I want to make sure our listeners understand the logic behind it.

Samantha: Stacy, I know I mentioned this earlier, but when a candidate asks about the employer that has the open job, aren’t they asking because they want more information and they believe that information will help them decide if they’re interested in the job or not?

Stacy: That’s a great question, and yes, that is the case most of the time. The candidate is looking for more information so they can decide if the opportunity is one that they want to pursue. I touched upon this at the top of our show, and once again, it’s understandable. By no means am I saying that it’s an outlandish request.

However, it’s still a request that can not be met until the candidate reaches a certain point in the hiring process.

Job seekers and candidates have to view the situation from the perspective of both the employer and the recruiter. We’ve already discussed the employer. The hiring manager wants a degree of confidentiality surrounding the search. There could be any number of reasons why this is the case. The recruiter, who works for the employer, is certainly going to make sure that there is confidentiality. That’s part of their job.

What is also part of the recruiter’s job is to find appropriate candidates for their client’s job opening. However, when they first call a candidate, they don’t know for certain that the person is a good fit. Or a fit at all. That’s why they’re calling. They’re pre-qualifying or screening the person, as well as gauging their level of interest.

Samantha: So if the recruiter discovers that the person is really not a good fit . . .

Stacy: Then they can move on, and the confidentiality of the search has been protected. The last thing a recruiter wants to do is jeopardize the confidentiality of their client’s search by disclosing the name of their client to candidates who are not a fit and who will not be interviewing with the organization.

In my experience, it is a cardinal sin for a recruiter or search consultant to disclose the name of their client before they and the candidate discuss the fit of the opportunity first. That’s because the recruiter has no idea if it’s a potential fit without conducting an initial interview.

Samantha: So how often does it happen, candidates asking about the name of the employer?

Stacy: It does not happen the majority of the time, thankfully, but it does happen frequently enough that I’ve addressed the topic in articles and blog posts and now in this podcast.

Asking a recruiter to reveal the identity of their client too soon is a “turn-off” for most recruiters. And if you ask more than once before it’s appropriate to reveal the name of the employer, that’s a good way to lose your candidacy. Now, it’s true that some of the candidates who do this simply have not been through the process before or they are more junior in their career.

But that’s why we’re discussing this topic today: to educate those who don’t know about how this process works in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession!

Samantha: Thank you, Stacy! This was educational, and it was great information that you shared with us today. I’m sure our listeners found it to be interesting.

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