The question above is one sometimes asked by job seekers and candidates. It’s a question they ask themselves during the search process, and sometimes they even ask a variation of it to their recruiter: “Why won’t you tell me who the company is?”

As a recruiter, I can understand why candidates ask this question. They’re in the midst of a job search, which can be a highly emotional situation, or a recruiter has reached out to them about a new potential opportunity. They’re both excited and stressed about the prospect of that new opportunity. They’re feeling a certain degree of uncertainty, and not knowing the name of the company attached to the opportunity that the recruiter is presenting only adds to that uncertainty.

However, the recruiter is not withholding the name of the company for the sole purpose of keeping you “in the dark” or for any other nefarious reason.
Quite the contrary: your recruiter is not disclosing the name of the company for a number of good reasons. One of those reasons is to protect you, the candidate. (You may not believe that’s the case, but the rationale will soon be explained.)

Three big reasons
So—what are those good reasons? Below are three big reasons why your recruiter isn’t telling you the name of the company:

#1—There are confidential circumstances surrounding the search.
One of the reasons that employers hire recruiters is that the employer wants to keep the search confidential. If a recruiter contacts you about an opportunity, chances are good that the search is being conducted on a confidential basis. The company could be replacing an underperforming employee or hiring “under the radar.” When that’s the case, company officials do NOT want their recruiter to disclose their identity until a certain point during the hiring process. And a recruiter must honor that request.
I have an example of this. There was a company within my industry that wanted to build a sales force, but they didn’t want their competitors to know what they were doing. So they hired our search firm to build a nationwide sales force for them. We had to secretly recruit these individuals. These positions were not posted anywhere, and they could only be found by working with a recruiter. In this instance, they could only be found by working with our recruiting firm. This was a search to fill multiple positions that was 100% confidential.

#2—It would be a bad idea for you to circumvent the process.
I’m not saying that YOU personally would circumvent the process . . . but there have been candidates who have tried to circumvent the process. What do I mean by that? I mean once they find out the name of the company, the candidate goes around the recruiter and contacts the hiring manager directly. For some reason, they believe that this will enhance their candidacy. I can’t stress enough that this is a bad idea.

First of all, it’s simply not ethical to circumvent the search professional who informed you of the opportunity. Second, going around the recruiter is not going to give you an edge or help you “get in the door.” In fact, just the opposite is the case, and I have a story that illustrates this. A candidate called the hiring manager of one of my clients on their cell phone after hours. The hiring manager was not happy about this. They called me and said they were not going to consider the person anymore. If you circumvent the recruiter, the hiring manager will usually find out, and it could jeopardize your chances of landing the position. Keep in mind, the hiring manager and the recruiter talk regularly throughout the hiring process.

Remember that companies rely heavily upon the judgment of the search consultants they hire. If you go around the recruiter that the client trusts and contact the client yourself, you will likely not be considered for the position. In addition, the search consultant will take you off their list of candidates to contact for future opportunities. It is a truly lose-lose situation . . . and it’s the candidate who loses twice.

#3—Timing is everything during the hiring process.
Look at it this way: obviously, the recruiter is not going to keep the name of the company secret forever. In the event of a face-to-face interview, you’re going to find out who the company is. Eventually, all will be revealed. However, there is a specific timeline in place for everything, and that includes this stage. There is a time and place for revealing the name of the company with the opportunity.

The candidate may believe that revealing the name of the company early in the process is appropriate. However, the company that is offering the opportunity does not believe that’s the case. The organization is seeking qualified and interested individuals. Once those candidates are identified and agree to join the hiring process, then those candidates are one step closer to finding out the name of the company with the opportunity.

A matter of trust and motivation
If you’ve made the decision to work with a search consultant or recruiter in an effort to find another employment opportunity and grow your career, it would make sense for you to trust that recruiter. If you trust that recruiter, then you should trust them to know when to disclose the name of the company and when not to.

On the other hand, if you don’t trust the recruiter, then why in the world are you working with them? Are you only using them to identify new jobs and then once you find out what you want, you’ll ditch them at the first opportunity in an attempt to land one of those jobs yourself? Are you attempting to create some sort of an “arm’s length” relationship whereby you pretend that you’re working with them until you get what you want? Neither of those options sounds even the slightest bit professional.

If you’re working with a recruiter and you trust them, trust them. If you’re working with a recruiter and you don’t trust them . . . find another recruiter.

But in either case, don’t expect the recruiter to tell you the name of the company. Until the time is right.

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