Transparency in recruiting is essential, yet many organizations, and their recruiters, play fast and loose with the term or ignore it altogether.

Lack of transparency in the recruitment process is one of the principle reasons that more than 50 percent of all candidates recruited from outside an organization quit, are pushed out, or are fired within the first 24 months, according to employment industry studies.

In more than 17 years in the executive search industry, I have heard candidates describe horror story after horror story regarding how the truth about a company, a job or even the compensation plan was covered up or, at times, distorted. When a frustrated candidate approached her new boss about an intractable problem that would dramatically affect her tenure – the boss replied with words to the effect:  If we had told you the truth you would not have taken the job.  If I had $10 for every time I hear that line from candidates, I would be on financial easy street.

Some CEOs and/or their well-intended but misguided minions will cover up any number of issues to avoid admitting the worst kept secret in the world:  that they have problems – from leadership dysfunction;  the bloody and brutal nature of inter-office politics; the management silos that squash innovation, drive up costs and harm patients; and the immovable barriers that stymie performance. The inventory of issues are endless.  In some organizations so is the list of problems that everyone knows but are not allowed to disclose to potential new employees.

Some organizations decry the practice of being deceived by fraudulent references but will go to great lengths to cloak the truth about their shortcomings to their potential employees.  It is as if the companies are playing a massive and costly game of “you figure it out.”  This practice is not just limited to a few complex hospitals or other healthcare service businesses.  It is a widespread problem across all sectors.

For companies who are honest about their issues, who practice full disclosure, they typically are able to recruit and employ candidates who stay longer and produce greater value. Honesty contributes to a sense of belonging for employees as well as a deep pride to be working for a company who walks the talk.

I can think of no reason for any organization to engage in a recruiting process that is anything less than completely transparent about the good, the bad and the ugly of an organization.

The upsides in this environment are endless.

© 2010 John Gregory Self

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