Two Problems With Confidential Searches

November 8, 2021 in HR Best Practices



Kinsa Group’s food and beverage industry recruiting specialists get asked from time to time to conduct confidential searches for client employers. In other words, to search for candidates without divulging what employer the search is for, typically because someone is currently in the job and they don’t want to “rock the boat” until a replacement is found.

While there are situations in which this may be absolutely necessary, Kinsa recommends avoiding confidential searches whenever possible.  Why? Here are a couple of reasons:


1. A confidential search may be compromised way too easily. Over the years, we have seen the “cat get out of the bag” in multiple ways.

  • The most common reason is simple… when a recruiter talks to a job candidate, we need to divulge the job location as well as some basic facts about the job requirements and responsibilities in order to attract the candidate’s interest. In many cases, this is enough information to enable a well-informed industry professional to guess who the employer may be or what the job is. And based on the size of the food industry network, the person we are talking to may very well know your incumbent through memberships, educational conferences, trade shows, and other events!
  • Or, consider another common example.  When an external recruiter conducts a confidential search, they absolutely avoid reaching out to people who currently work for you, but they may not have an industry professional’s most recent employment record.  So, a recruiter may well end up speaking with your current employees unbeknownst to them!
  • There are many other ways we have seen confidential searches get compromised, in spite of every precaution. At the very least, if a confidential search is necessary, make sure you have a backup plan in case an employee figures out what’s going on and spreads the gossip or quits.


2. Perhaps even more importantly, a strong, positive employer brand is one of your greatest assets when it comes to attracting top talent.

  • When a recruiter talks to candidates, we “sell” a company’s reputation as much as the job. However, when you ask a recruiter to conduct a confidential employee search, we are completely unable to leverage the reputation you have worked so hard to earn.
  • In fact, the problem here is even worse than that. People know why companies generally do confidential searches: they want to find a replacement so they can terminate someone. So, when we launch a confidential search, that’s the first and possibly only thing the professionals we reach out to know about you – that you are the type of company that is comfortable with replacing an employee behind their back, and springing a termination on them at the last moment.  Really, you won’t be given a chance to explain why, or defend your decision, before a job candidate decides whether they are interested in your opportunity or not.
  • Remember: the best candidates have a lot of other options, and they know it. We want to give them every reason to choose your company’s opportunity!


Today’s talent recruitment market is the most challenging we have seen for employers in the food and beverage industry. Whenever possible, we want to help you avoid making it even harder to find and recruit the top talent you need to move your business forward!

Trust Kinsa Group to connect you with the best talent in the food marketplace. Contact us about your hiring need today.