Few things are more important to me as an executive search professional than my ability to ensure and protect each candidate’s confidentiality. Those familiar with retained executive search know that we proactively approach gainfully employed executives and ask them to become candidates for searches we are conducting. If we can’t ensure passive candidates that their participation will be confidential, it’s understandable that the process will stop before it starts. It’s always been our responsibility to educate and remind our clients that a candidate’s confidentiality is top priority. We carefully walk them through a list of forbidden activities, such as: don’t check back door references, don’t share the candidate profiles with anyone outside of the search committee, etc..

Recently the game changed and social media is responsible. LinkedIn has accelerated the pace at which we work in a way we haven’t seen since we all transitioned to communicating via email in the mid-1990s. Overall, the change is positive, but it does require executive search professionals, our clients and our candidates to take new precautions to protect candidate confidentiality.

(1) As a standard practice, I do not link to active or past candidates before the conclusion of a particular search. Executives and Executive Recruiters can and should configure their settings to turn off the feature that broadcasts every new connection. There are several reasons for this:

a. It’s not in the best interest of our employed candidates to broadcast the fact they have a new connection to an executive recruiter.

b. All active candidates on a search could potentially ‘follow’ the progress of the search. Candidates are able to see which of their competitors or colleagues recently connected with the same executive recruiter.

c. We don’t want our candidates’ boss or colleagues to see on their newsfeed that they recently connected to an executive recruiter.

(2) We warn our clients about the ramifications of sharing the identity of candidates too widely within an organization.

a. It’s human nature to be curious. All it takes is one curious employee or colleague to look up a candidate’s profile on Linkedin. We are hearing more and more from our candidates that they are nervous because their profile has been viewed by several employees at our client.