Ethical Recruiting Part 2

O’Leary is the principal of Loss Prevention Recruiters a leading Retail Loss Prevention Recruiting Solutions Provider. He is a former Loss Prevention Executive who has provided Loss Prevention Career Guidance for over 20 years. You can reach him at 440-210-1867 or

Published in LP Magazine March/April 2010

Every Search Firm shares a responsibility to offer world-class customer service when working with both their clients and candidates. Customer service, of course, is the backbone for any successful service provider, and recruiting is no exception. And to that end, the number one value of any recruiter, without debate, is ethics. Without ethics you are simply a “head hunter” looking to make a buck off anyone and everyone you can. It is critically important to take the approach that you are devoted to providing both quality customer service as well as a commitment and clear understanding of how your actions may impact an organization and/or someone’s career.

I totally support our free enterprise system (at least whatever the federal government doesn’t own) and hope that everyone achieves personal and financial success. However, I do not support this at any cost – and certainly not at the cost of anyone’s career.

The purpose of my last article about ethics in recruiting was to advise candidates and companies that it is in their best interest to research and become more aware of the search firms that they are working with; and to make sure those that are used practice ethically. Another goal of the article was to help prevent future unethical acts by pointing out some of the unethical recruiting practices that can potentially occur – and have occurred – in our industry. My hope was that anyone involved in such unaccepted practices would look in the mirror and start doing the right thing. Being a half full glass kind of person, I like to think positively about everything. However, in this case I was unfortunately wrong.

There was an incident where a very well-known search firm breached a candidate’s confidentiality in a non-exclusive search they were conducting. After discovering that another search firm was representing this particular candidate, the well-known search firm for obvious self-serving reasons informed the candidate’s employer that they were interviewing with another company.  And not so coincidentally, this well-known search firm also represents this candidate’s employer.

This type of incident is without question one of the most unethical acts that any recruiter could ever commit! It is an unconscionable and an un-defendable practice that not only puts a person in jeopardy of losing their job, but also dramatically impacts the family that depends on them.  There is no rationalization or excuse for doing this.  None.  Period!  This is the type of unethical practice that lends credence to the negative reputation that the recruiting industry has.   No one in our industry should ever fear working with any search firm in order to better their future. There are several reputable search firms that give sound and ethical advice. They are sincerely interested in each person’s success and above everything else, will protect their confidentiality.

In an industry built upon ethics and integrity my question is, why would anyone continue to do business with any firm that continues to practice unethically, and clearly exploits others for self-serving reasons?

I will continue to call out these unethical practices until our industry is free from those who choose to continue to act in this way, regardless of who they are. But I cannot end it alone. I can only write about it and tell you about it. It is up to each of you to get involved and take a stand.  Only you can end this by refusing to work with any company that practices unethically. Do you really believe that these types of companies would not hesitate to throw you under the bus if it would benefit them?

This story does have somewhat of a happy ending, as the candidate in question fortunately did not get fired and decided to withdraw from the search process and stay where they are. I can hardly blame them, but they should have never been put into that place to begin with.


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