Why is it confidential?

Or: Why we can’t tell you who the client is!

Having read a post on LI recently, no doubt written by a disgruntled, erstwhile candidate, about how shameful it is that recruiters can’t tell you straight up who the client is, I thought that I would throw a few comments into the hat and put our side of the case to you.

So why do can’t we tell you who the client is when you ask?

Now, some candidates when we speak to them about a role, demand straight away that unless we tell them who it is for they won’t talk to us; I have always thought that this was due to a lack of confidence and security in their role. Indeed, one or two have subsequently admitted that they thought we were calling on behalf of their boss to check their loyalty! However, it could be that they have gone through the recruitment process and then pulled out when they have discovered the client, who are not of interest to them. Fair enough. Time wasted all round. Although, if the recruiter had been more diligent he would have found out which companies would not interest the candidate and acted accordingly.

So, why can’t we tell who the client is? First off it is because we can’t; the client themselves have told us not to release this information, which could be for a number of reasons:

  • They are intending to replace someone and they, or their team/department do not know it yet
  • It is commercially sensitive: a new product, large contract win, expansion, a new division or direction; or even that they don’t want their customers, or rivals, or investors to know that a senior employee has left
  • It is for a competitor and they don’t want them to know they are trying to poach their staff just yet
  • We may speak to more than one person in your company and who wants to know that they are the third person to be asked by company x? Not a good motivator
  • Almost all candidates have a perception of a company, because they know someone who worked there or have heard rumours, and we'd rather candidates are motivated by the role/opportunity itself and not put off by a company name. Then they can make their own rational decision

From the many comments posted in response it would seem that it is 50:50 in agreement with the writer. Indeed, some of the comments were very interesting and ranged from “the recruiter doesn’t have a vacancy and is just fishing” to “totally unprofessional (at best)”.

I leave it to you to agree or disagree.

Paul Holmes, Managing Director