Solutions Driven

Confidential Hiring: How To Discretely Hire Your Next COO

how to confidentially hire your next coo

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Your COO isn’t working out.

You know it, but few others do. So you need to do some confidential hiring…

It could be because they’re still at your organisation, or maybe they want to keep their own leaving private, or you just don’t want the rest of the team to know someone high profile will be departing before you have a replacement. 

Confidential hiring

Whatever it is, hiring at this level is never easy.

An Even Harder Challenge

It becomes even harder when the hiring needs to be a confidential executive search. There can be no huge recruitment campaign going on here. You often can’t bring in other team members (who may be more experienced in this area than you) to help.

But you still need to go through the same – if not more – vigorous recruitment processes to identify and attract the right talent.

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Don’t worry though. We’ve been there.

We’ve worked with a multitude of companies in exactly the same position. That’s why we’ve put together some of our biggest tips for confidentially hiring at executive level, helping you to get through the confidential search process as efficiently as possible.

Outsource if You Need To

Confidentially hiring your next COO is a difficult process. Don’t be scared if you need to outsource.

When things are confidential, you save time not having to disguise the fact you’re hiring or dealing with the admin tasks that your own team would normally cover.

Even if you don’t think you need one, consider getting a recruitment partner for your confidential executive search. Not only do they help you guarantee confidentiality, they’re also the experts and will save time and get you the best potential candidates.

With their in depth knowledge of hiring, they’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where to look, saving you adopting a “spray and pray” approach (which has poor returns) and helping keep the role and search process under wraps.

executive search

Recruiters Can Help You Map Your Talent

Plenty of people dive into an executive search process without doing much research. When you’re doing confidential recruitment, it’s doubly difficult. You can’t turn to your usual talent team to ask for advice and valuable insights or use their experience in your field. 

The right confidential executive search partner will come armed with knowledge of your industry and location, and give you insights you wouldn’t get on your own. If they don’t have all the knowledge you need, they should be able to carry out in-depth research on these topics on your behalf.

Executive Search

At Solutions Driven, we call this Talent Mapping.

We create and present talent maps for clients who need information on demographics, salary expectations, and talent pools. The client can then use this information in their own searches, or ask us to use it to find the best candidates for a perfect hire.

In executive search talent maps, we will usually do a deep dive into the capabilities of your internal staff too, if appropriate.

This gives you an idea of whether you have anyone ready to make the step up, and gives your top candidates a benchmark to work to if they’re not quite ready for their next position.

Having this research coming from a third party assists with integration of new team members and fosters the idea of this new person coming in to support the team on this confidential search, rather than usurp existing, talented employees.

But how do you hire the perfect candidate if you can’t advertise the hiring company?

Again, this is something a good recruitment partner should be able to help you with in your recruitment process.

Recruiters are experts in conveying your Employee Value Proposition, whatever the circumstances – confidential searches or not. They’re also able to pinpoint the correct candidates and qualified leaders in this case, and organise a non disclosure agreement to keep your business’s identity quiet in this confidential search.

Confidential hiring

One of the best ways to get your EVP – and your confidentiality needs across to a recruitment partner – is through a thorough scoping call at the beginning of your working relationship.

It helps you articulate exactly what you want in a candidate or in this case a new executive at the beginning and set out your expectations.

And it gives you the chance to show your exec search partner exactly what your company is about and what kind of employee would fit perfectly into your company culture.

Getting Exactly the Right Fit

Whether we think it will or not, gut feel creeps into most parts of recruitment.

In fact, only 5-10% of our decisions are taken consciously, so it’s not surprising that biases creep into hiring processes. 

Avoid Biases

But when hiring for a position as important as a COO (or any position in fact), biases can be incredibly unhelpful. Rather than pick the best candidate or one with the drive to push the company forward to success, it’s easy to go for someone who has the same background or experience as your core employees and existing executive team.

Which is where a great recruitment agency comes in on this confidential searches. While conducting your confidential search for a COO, they’ll also ensure that you get the best possible candidates and executives to take on the role you need and to meet your big picture goals. 

At Solutions Driven, we do this through our 6S Process and 6F Methodology, discovering passive talent who have the skills and the qualities you really need.

Finally. Embrace the new era

The “old” way of recruiting through contacts and a little black book, meeting for lunch, and long interviews is:

A. No longer possible with most of us working from home for the foreseeable


B. Not very efficient...

That’s why it’s important to embrace a new way of hiring.

From hiring the best recruiters because of their experience and processes, to using video technology for interviews, and carrying out psychometric testing – new technology allows businesses to save time and money. 

It also makes confidential hiring much easier.

With candidates working from home, it’s much easier for them to jump on a video interview than take a day off their current position to meet recruiters or hiring managers. 

Or to sneak about to meet with you…

Confidential hiring

Not having to meet candidates or recruiters in person also makes it easier for you to keep your hiring process under wraps with absolute discretion. And psychometric testing and candidate skill and qualities scorecarding means you get a handle on who the candidate is before making an offer.

So if you’ve found yourself in the position of confidentially hiring your next COO, be aware that it doesn’t need to be a one-man/woman job, conducted in the dark. Pull in people that can help you handle confidentiality in recruitment process, make a plan, stick to a process, and embrace new ways of thinking.

Your perfect hire is out there.

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