Following is a statement of the ethical principles adhered to by the retained recruiting
industry. A few very large firms modify one or two of these precepts, which they feel
hamper growth of their business. On the other hand, large employers spending vast sums
with recruiters often wield their economic power to force full adherence. Overall, most
retainer firms voluntarily adhere to traditional ethics as stated in this example:
(from the client employers point of view)
- Don't weaken an organization you're
being paid to strengthen.
- Don't betray a trusting
- Don't misrepresent the dimensions of
- Don't diminish the value of the
1. We don't weaken an organization
we're being paid to strengthen.
Paid to strengthen a management team, we do not simultaneously or soon afterward weaken it
by recruiting its members to join our other clients.
When undertaking an assignment we always indicate to what extent the client's organization
will be off-limits to us and for how long.
2. We don't betray a trusting
Paid on retainer to assist our clients, we become consultants -- not brokers. We meet the
client management team and are entrusted with confidential information about the relative
competence of its members. We do not use this privileged information to identify targets
for later recruitment.
We are also entrusted by individuals with their personal career information. We do not
disclose it without the individual's knowledge and consent.
3. We don't misrepresent the
dimensions of the search.
Clients expect and deserve a thorough search for the best candidates. Occasionally, there
will be target organizations we cannot penetrate because they, too, are clients. Whenever
one client asks us to search within another client, we voluntarily disclose our off-limits
barrier. Informed, the searching client can probe the off-limits organization. If its
people become candidates, we will meet and evaluate them just as thoroughly and
professionally as the candidates we identify, and we will keep in utmost confidence their
willingness to consider an outside opportunity. We will not inform their superiors.
4. We don't diminish the value of
Although we may already know some or all of the finalist candidates even before the search
begins, payment on retainer signifies that we have developed the finalists specifically
for the client paying for the search. Therefore, unless the search is interrupted or
terminated or improperly prolonged, those candidates belong to that client from the time
they're presented until they're rejected or, if they become contenders, until a final
selection is made. To present the same candidate to two or more clients simultaneously --
and thus pit the clients against each other in the hiring process -- can be a convenience
to the search firm but clearly is not in the best interests of the clients. Called
"Parallel Processing," this technique -- traditionally forbidden in retained
recruiting but standard in contingency recruiting -- is now indulged in by some retained
search firms. We do not do it.
Copyright 2004, The Viceroy Press
Inc., New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.