Surgical Recruiting: What it Means to be an Ethical Recruiter

A phrase frequently brought up in the Talent Acquisition field is “ethical recruiting”. This refers to several factors. But what the field needs is far beyond ethical. Here at Moonlight, we use the word “surgical” for our recruiting because it is more accurate in describing our methods, as well as being a bit of a play on words since we recruit exclusively in the medical space. But we use this terminology to denote that we also go far beyond the standard definition of ethical. We do not just abide by the highest standards of integrity, transparency and honesty, but also work on changing the system that allows non-ethical recruiters to thrive in the first place. It’s not just people that need to change- it’s the entire structure of the field.

Ethical recruitment refers to common-sense professionalism. Poor recruiters spam people, misrepresent the position and do not do their due diligence with the hiring manager in order to make a quick buck. Certainly, candidates need to understand the nature of the work and not be angry if the recruiter doesn’t update them immediately. Sometimes it will take over a month to get an answer back about the position. But ethical recruitment requires complete transparency and responsiveness.

When we say we “surgically recruit”, we mean we map the field and only reach out to candidates who have the exact experience and qualifications necessary. There are many “offline” factors we cannot tell from a resume or LinkedIn profile- such as salary and specialized experiences. But we do our absolute best to only contact those who would be interested. We throw out old resumes and data as we never use old data to contact people. We do not use a static database of data we’ve collected, but rather maintain a living database of real-time information 

Additionally, ethical means taking the minimum amount of time from the candidate as possible, because we know they are interviewing elsewhere and are busy professionals. We can’t guarantee the stars will align and they will land the gig, so especially with initial contact we want to do all the work in the background and not bother them unless necessary.

One of the hardest parts of recruiting is dealing with hiring manager personalities. Some managers are more predictable than others, but frequently candidates are rejected for bizarre personal reasons. And since we work for them, there’s nothing we can do to force them to interview one of our candidates. It’s our job to bring them what they ask for, period.

For instance, sometimes managers have a personal grudge against a certain company and they will reject amazing candidates for this reason, or some other highly personal and objective reason. This is why we do not spend much time with candidates upfront, because we want to be respectful of their time. We don’t want to take hours of their time, get them excited, and then have to tell they the manager doesn’t want to interview them. If the hiring manager wants to interview them after seeing their resume, then the real recruiting starts and we dig into the candidate’s experience, desires, short and long term objectives etc in other to best prepare them for the interviews and make sure there is smooth communication between everyone involved.

Here at Moonlight, we go beyond this simple definition of ethics which many recruiters utilize. What sets us apart is that we want to change the Talent Acquisition field dynamically. We want to be able to provide assistance not just to hiring managers and directors, but also to fellow recruiters of all stripes. Recruiting is a difficult field, and we want to move recruiting forward at all levels. We want to be able to help the Talent Acquisition Director of a multi-national as equally as well as an independent recruiter starting up his own gig. To do this, we have opened up a broad data services and other workflow technologies to anyone in the Recruiting profession.

For instance, we’ve fixed the parts of LinkedIn which are hostile to recruiting. LinkedIn is a professional networking site first and foremost, and the "product" that LinkedIn sells is Talent Acquisition. But even the top $1,000 a month Recruiting account has serious limitations. You still can't see the entire network, have limited inmails and have to search one-by-one, which is very tedious and time consuming. You can't run metrics to compare candidates in the way you should. It's only built to spam people, not surgically target the best of the best. It's designed for a hiring manager working on an entry level job, not for headhunting executive level candidates.

We’ve spent years working around these limitations of the LinkedIn platform in a few ways including building a para-LinkedIn living database and building software that lets us download our connections with their locations, etc. We can see hundreds of thousands of profiles in real time in our off-line database. We’ve by-passed all of LinkedIn’s algorithms to see the entire network and have never used a Recruiting account. We've opened up a few of these workflows to the public

These core values of constant improvement, dynamic evolution and strategic thinking are our greatest contribution to the ethics of the recruiting field.

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