Most of the postings in our evening newsletter do not reveal the name of the client. There is a reason for this. The search firm wants to keep it a secret. (Duh!)
There are several reasons why they tend to do this. Their first fear is that you might call their client. Now I know that none of the members of The FENG are dumb enough to do this, but it does happen once or twice a year. (With 50,000+ members we have quite a track record of good behavior.) Usually it proves to be someone other than someone from our august body who has committed this crime, but the suspicion still remains.
Old habits of secrecy die hard, and this fear is hard to convince them is unwarranted.
There is also the possibility that there is an incumbent. If you consider how much work each of us is capable of producing, you can imagine that from time to time a company can decide to replace someone and not have the common courtesy to let them know for fear that they will stop working. Sure, I know all of us would keep at it with the same level of intensity, but non-members of The FENG have been known not to be as dedicated.
The final most obvious reason is that they don’t want their client to find out that all they did was post a position description in our newsletter. I call this the “Rice Krispies Treats problem.” We make it so easy for members of the search community to find qualified candidates, that one is hard pressed to see how they are earning their fee. (I have a tough time with this one, but we will have to live with making their lives easy so all of you can have first crack at some good jobs.) Hey, free AND quick is hard to pass up.
Now if they haven’t officially told you the name of the client, what if you figure it out? Based on the rough location and the business that the company is in, from time to time, if you are a “qualified candidate,” it might be as plain as the nose on your face. Should you let them know?
In a word, “dummy up.”
Here they have gone to all the trouble of trying to disguise the client, do you really think it would be smart to reveal to them how dumb they were? No one loves a wise guy.
If you contact them, or if you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with them, play along. Don’t let on that you know the name of their client until they have specifically told you. Let them play out their magic show.
Heck, it may be the only fun they will have all day.