A question of ethics: The virtues of using separate suppliers for recruitment and selection

Recruitment and Selection

In 2004, HFL closed its most profitable division at that time – its recruitment section. Despite a constant flow of contracts, the owner of that business at the time, much to his credit, decided that ethically his team couldn’t assess candidates at the required level of objectivity knowing that the fee was linked to the success/fit of the candidates.


Ten years on, our consulting team decided that this position remains ethical but flawed and, specifically, it is contrary to what our clients are asking for.  Why, they ask, once your team has built a performance model or a success profile for the role, can you not be more involved in undertaking the search? Wouldn’t this lead to greater efficiently and quality (each with a clear financial incentive) in both the recruitment and the selection phases?


Our clients’ argument makes perfect sense; long term relationships have resulted in a deep understanding of the leadership and general capability demands, and this clearly qualifies HFL to do this well. However, we believe that we cannot achieve the desired level of objectivity being involved in search, so from an ethical standpoint, have chosen to maintain our position: we don’t do recruitment.


But there is a half way house. Our consulting team, hugely assisted it must be said by our clients, have come up with the concept of “Assessment Partnered Search”.  This is where HFL (the selection expert) works hand in glove with our client’s nominated recruitment partner (the search expert) to deliver an integrated and higher quality result for the client.


This approach clearly requires deep cooperation and partnerships with the experts in their respective fields. In several cooperative assignments we have worked on recently, we have started to think hard about what are the key success factors - for us as well as our clients – to make such an arrangement work well.


We’ve concluded that it is essential to choose partners not just on their technical expertise, but on their beliefs and values. Ones that seem to matter most are:


  •  Integrity and respect - taking personal responsibility – respecting others; demonstrated by listening to the other experts and not being dismissive, and by being courageous enough to share your opinion and be clear when you are stating fact – these often get mixed up by experts!
  • Client centricity – working collaboratively with the client to co-create the best solution for them which sometimes means being prepared to challenge their thinking and challenge each other.
  • Clarity – start any project with a clear picture of the desired end state and be sure that this will have a positive impact on the relevant business metrics.  Having the courage to drive for this result without compromise.


By following this thinking, one example of this approach is the collaboration created between HFL and Go Global Partners.  As a “pair”, we have successfully created a cooperation that can deliver high quality, global search and selection solutions.


Each party brings their expertise to the table to the benefit of a “shared” client and with no direct conflict of interest – together we use their skills to define the demand and then one partner completes the search, the other does the selection.  The partners ensure quality for their respective areas of expertise and alignment is achieved through collaboratively building the “Success Profile”, plus a shared project purpose centred on the best possible outcome for the client. Our most recent success story from this type of project was the delivery of a C-Level executive role in the USA for a globally expanding, market leading, premium Australian brand.


Similarly, we have developed an ongoing relationship with search firm Gavin-Rowley Executive, to whom we refer clients seeking support in finding executives in the domestic market.


To view our partners page please click here: www.hflleadership.com/global-network







Recruitment and Selection
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