Do you know what a hands-off list is in recruitment?

  • Post published:11/05/2022
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Be awareWhen you let a recruiter into your company, you also give access to names and relationships of your key employees. Be warned!

What if the same recruitment firm, now holding names and contact details of your key staff, later tries to headhunt one of them to your biggest competitor? Surprised, angry, upset? All of the above?

This scenario is one of two things you must know about the hands-off lists.

The other scenario? Let’s assume you want to headhunt one of the Vice Presidents now working for your competitor.

When you engage with the recruitment company or executive search firm, ask them which companies in your industry they cannot approach for candidates. Because your competitor may already be a client of the recruiter and therefore contractually blocked from fishing there for candidates.

Protect yourself from sleazy recruitment cowboys

How do you protect yourself from a recruiter coming back to fish for your best staff, because when you earlier used their service, they had access to your organization and now know who’s who?

And second, how do you protect yourself from the same recruiter trying to headhunt the very same candidate they placed at your company three years ago?

The Hands-Off lists explained

Hands-off listsList 1: Agree in writing with your recruitment company or executive search firm that the recruiter cannot contact anyone in your company to be a candidate for another of their clients.

Get this paragraph into the agreement:

We undertake not to approach any executive as a candidate from your company for a period of one year from the employment date of the placed candidate.

List 2: You want to get a life-long guarantee that the recruiter will never ever try to get the successfully placed candidate to leave your organization and become their candidate again.

Get this paragraph into the agreement:

We will never try to recruit anyone placed with your company without your prior explicit written permission.

List 3: If you are looking for candidates currently working for competitors or companies in your industry, make sure that your chosen recruiter does not already have a business relationship that will stop them from approaching employees of competitors and companies in your business.

Real-life story when recruiter headhunted their placed candidate

Rotten applesIt happened in Thailand. A current well-known recruitment company in Bangkok placed a Finance Director with a global leader in its niche industry.

Almost on the date three years later, they approached the placed candidate with another job opportunity. It was an offer the candidate couldn’t refuse.

Long story short, the Finance Director resigned and moved to the recruiter’s other client.

Of course, it didn’t stay secret for long and it came to the attention of the CEO what their recruitment partner had been up to.

This is now more than 10 years ago, but the CEO still loves to tell the story to other executives when sharing war stories about how some recruiters work.

What if it’s your manager calling the recruiter?

It has happened to me many times during my 20 years in the executive search space.

An executive I came to know when I did an executive search for the executive’s company.

When I explain that I will not try to recruit an employee from my client, I typically get this suggestion:

But what if we say that it was me calling you? So, it was not you approaching me for a job.

A client’s executive asking me to become a candidate

My answer: Please ask your boss to call me and give me the approval to headhunt you.

End of story.

But even better. Candidates that I helped a client to find and place during my time at Grant Thornton and Boyden, we talk a period of 20 years, are still hands-off for me even though I now work for Tom Sorensen | NPAworldwide.

Now, get in touch with me and let’s talk about what I can do for your company. Here.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.