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How to Conduct a “Confidential Search”

How to Conduct a “Confidential Search”

Judy Kennelley - Monday, March 06, 2017

Conducting a confidential executive search is difficult, but there are times when it’s necessary. In an ideal world, an employer would be able to tell an employee it isn’t working out and a change is coming, and that, in turn, would create a smoother and easier transition period. However, that’s not possible most of the time, which is why a confidential search is often needed.

As an executive search firm that’s conducted thousands of confidential searches for companies over two decades, we’ve seen a lot. Here are some things to be aware of when a confidential search is required and how you can make the transition better for your company.

  1. Define an inner circle of people that can assist in the confidential search process. This can be board members, other members of the executive team, or people within your network. This inner circle will be people that you trust and can brainstorm with, and can help you with the interviewing process.
  2. Be aware that there is no such thing as a confidential search. Typically, you are in a situation where a poor performer is better than no performer and leaving the position vacant while conducting a search process is not an option. The goal is to delay that employee from finding out while securing the replacement. Keep in mind that as soon as you interview the first candidate for the position you lose control of confidentiality. We have never experienced anyone maliciously leaking information, but typically candidates will share the position with their own personal network for input, guidance, and technical advice.
  3. Your personal network is an important resource in finding candidates for a confidential replacement position. Trusted colleagues can contact people discreetly on your behalf to see if they may be interested in the position.
  4. This scenario is often a perfect time to contact an executive recruiter. An executive search firm can conduct a confidential search without raising awareness or concerns within your organization. A search consultant typically builds a relationship of mutual trust with their candidates and can count on them to keep information incredibly confidential, especially when they understand the circumstances.
  5. Lastly, be prepared if at some point in time the employee currently in the position finds out about the search you’re conducting. Are you going to provide an incentive for this person to help with a smooth transition? Are you going to trust the person to continue until the new person comes on board? Or are you going to have to escort the person from the building? You don’t want to be blindsided and you really never know how someone will react, so be prepared for any possibility.

Judy Kennelley and Integrity Network have been in the business of conducting confidential executive searches for companies in Colorado for more than 20 years. We can help you get the right match when you need it.

To learn more, call us at 303-663-2050.

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