How to Make the “Confidential Search” Easy to Implement
Posted Wednesday, October 31st, 2018


The Confidential Search

A confidential search is defined by launching a recruitment campaign to replace an incumbent employee without the incumbent knowing that they are being replaced, while the incumbent remains employed.

For the employer, it is the ideal scenario . The employer enjoys an immediate transition between the outgoing employee and the incoming replacement without lag time and lost productively in between.

What business wouldn’t want to have a plug-n-play exchange or a seamless transition when it is time to replace one employee with a new one? What employer wouldn’t want to hire before they fire?

While it sounds great, is the confidential search easy to implement? Can it be accomplished at all?

Can the confidential search incorporate the critically key aspects of a successful recruitment?

Perhaps employers should abandon any effort at attempting the confidential search and consider an alternative.

Key factors leading to a successful recruitment 

– Trust should be a key aspect of any recruitment campaign. Attracting the top talent and highly qualified candidates involves the aspect that the employer has established that they are a trustworthy organization.
–  The newly hired employee should have a clear understanding of the new employer’s culture and should have physically visited the new employer at least once during the hiring process.
–  The hiring of new talent is visible to all members of the organization. For the balance of the employees to remain engaged and motivated, they need to feel that the work they do delivers value and their employment status is secure.
–  Successful recruitments involve the announcement of the open position and the consideration for internal candidates to be considered as well as broadcasting to external candidates that the position is open. This step also provides the hiring manager with the sense that the best available candidates are being considered.

Conflicts of the Confidential Search

–       Hiring involves people. People are the most important and the most complicated part of any business. They are not a commodity. The hiring process has to be a win for the employer and a win for the new hire. The dynamics surrounding a confidential search returns today’s broken hiring model to making hiring a commodity event, not a personal event.
–       The lack of “Trust”. What does it say about an employer who is going to be sneaky enough to hire the replacement before firing the incumbent? Is anyone’s job safe? Are employees going to be spending a lot of work time looking over their shoulder thinking they might be the next one out the door? Can you really attract, recruit and hire top talent under those conditions?
–       What confidence does the hiring manager have in hiring the best talent if the hiring manager is limited to only the few candidates who can be confidentially contacted?
–       Successful recruitments need the transparency for a qualified candidate to make a visit to the business and meet with members of the company. This is not possible during a confidential search. Top candidates are going to walk away once they are denied the opportunity to “meet the company” and get a first-hand feel for the culture.

A Better Alternative

–       We are back to the basics. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Remember, the entire company (all employees) are watching how their employer handles hiring and firing because they all know it could be one of them, some day.
–       If it has been determined that a termination is in order, handle the process with the highest degree of professionalism. This may not be because the departing employee deserves it but it is because your business should always be demonstrating a best practices standard.
–       Approach the departing employee with the news that their role will be ending with your business. Tell them that you would like for them to assist with the transition for their replacement and that they will be compensated for their efforts and will also receive a favorable recommendation.
–       In some cases, the departing employee will elect to leave immediately. If that is the choice made, they probably were not bringing your business value anyway.
–       In most cases, the departing employee will appreciate your direct and respectful approach, accept your proposed transition plan and put your business in the ideal situation where the new replacement arrives while the incumbent is still ‘formally” in place.


Good Hunting !