There has been a lot of chatter recently on the various Recruiting-related blog sites about the ethical challenges of finding “passive candidates.” Passive candidates are those candidates who are not out actively seeking new opportunities, but who are willing to look at opportunities that might come their way. Many companies dole out lots of cash for the services of telephone names sourcers, who provide lists of potential passive candidates and their contact information. Other companies train their entire recruiting teams to use aggressive tactics to find and secure high-caliber passive candidates. Most of the time, the identification of passive candidates is conducted in an ethical manner – using Google searches, references, and the like. Sometimes, though, the searches are less than ethical, and involve cheating, lying, and, plain and simple, stealing.

A recent post on the website led to a, um, lively discussion of the ethics of recruiting. Recruiters from all over disagreed on where the line is, and what it means to step over the line. This discussion focused more on the ethics of actual candidate identification, but that’s really just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Once candidates are identified, good recruiters know how to provide appropriate, truthful information at the correct times. Good recruiters know how to keep confidential items quiet, and know how to professionally work through recruiting issues such as salary negotiations and counter-offers. Good recruiters treat candidates with respect and dignity.

Bad recruiters, those I consider to be ethically-challenged, churn and burn through candidate after candidate, sometimes ruining lives, and oftentimes wounding careers. These are the folks who lie about positions, use misleading job posts, and resort to stealing information in order to secure candidates. The bad recruiters will tell a candidate that the salary is more than what the recruiter knows the client is willing to pay. The bad recruiters will interview people only because they want referrals, not because they think that the candidate is a good job fit. The bad recruiters give us all a really bad name.

I guess I’m lucky – BSG has a culture of openness and trust. As a recruiter, I am expected, probably more than other people in the company, to live up to an exceptional standard of ethical behavior. If I do something that embarrasses me or my employer, then we both suffer. I won’t do that. I will not lie, cheat, or steal to get a candidate on board. I will act with professionalism and a deep respect for the people with whom I deal on a daily basis. That is expected of me, and it’s expected of all my colleagues at BSG. I have the support structure to continue to act in an ethical manner.

If you’re interested in some more thoughts on ethics in recruiting, check out this link. Other good posts are here, here, and here.

Have a good week!