by Bill Radin
Table of Contents
News, Training & Commentary by Bill Radin
Identity Theft in Recruiting:
How to Protect Your Assets
The other day, I got careless -- and
it cost me dearly.
I was in the process of marketing a candidate, and as I worked my way
the chain of command at a prospective client company, I accidentally let the
candidate's name slip.
Before I had the chance to present the candidate to the proper hiring
authority, the company contacted my candidate directly, freezing me out
of a referral fee.
Was I angry at the company for their end-run around me? Sure. But in
fairness, I had only myself to blame for needlessly giving away my
Loose Lips Sink Placements
To me, the secrecy game is one of the least appealing aspects of
recruiting. I hate the feeling of paranoia that comes from the
realization that at any time, somebody could be stealing my livelihood.
While it's true that my services involve much more than simply supplying
a candidate's name, it's the recruiter's referral that generally supports the
payment of a fee.
When you think about it, the potential for losing your "I.D." on a
candidate is omnipresent. For example, every time you refer a candidate,
you have to worry about whether that person is already on file in your
client company's resume vault. If it is, then you may need to fight for
your referral rights. Even if your candidate is "fresh," his resume is
certain to exchange hands once it's in the company's possession, and six
months later, you may be surprised to learn that your candidate is now
on the company payroll -- in a completely different department.
Another type of identity theft occurs whenever a loose-lipped candidate
tells his friends about a company with whom you've arranged an interview. Before you can say "sendout," five mystery
candidates are suddenly in the interviewing loop, none of them to your
Cover Your Assets
So how closely should you hold your cards? Here are some general
1. Never reveal a candidate's name or contact information -- verbally or
on a resume -- unless you have a written referral agreement with your
2. Make sure your signed referral agreement gives you credit for
referred candidates for a period of at least a year, and that your I.D.
on the candidate extends to the company's various divisions and
3. Never disclose your client company's name to a candidate until
there's a mutual level of interest sufficient to arrange an interview.
4. Utilize verbal firewall strategies to protect the identity of your
candidates and clients. For example, if the company asks for the
candidate's name, you can say, "I've been asked to keep the person's
name confidential." If they ask, "This wouldn't be John Smith, would
it?" you can play dumb and say, "John Smith? Who's he?" Or, if the
candidate wants to know the name of your client company, you can simply
describe the company, in terms of its size or general characteristics.
5. Always use the "you go first" technique when playing the identity
game. If the hiring manager says, "I think I know who your candidate
is," you can respond, "Really, who is it?" rather than offering to
reveal his name.
There are exceptions to the disclosure game, of course. If a candidate
has been actively interviewing, it makes no sense to cause confusion or
duplication of efforts if the person has already interviewed with your
client company. But by in large, the best way to protect your inventory
-- and your income -- is to play it close to vest.