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  • Writer's pictureAshley Gallant

Confidential Searches - Why & How?

It's not a secret that at Artemis we help tech companies hire great leaders. At its core, recruiting is a process of highly targeted connecting, marketing, and trust building. But what do we do when our client and the specifics of the role have to remain a well-guarded secret?

Why conduct a confidential search?

Replacing a Current Employee

Even when companies do their best to retain and support a current leader, a replacement search is sometimes the best option to move a business forward. Particularly for senior roles, it can take several months before a new hire is recruited and ready to get started. Searching confidentially can ensure a transition with fewer disruptions, and less uncertainty among staff, external partners and clients. Handling a replacement search with sensitivity offers the most respectful treatment of the incumbent as well, enabling them to exit with grace.

Sensitive Business Strategies

Sometimes a role is linked to a new, confidential business strategy or project that the company isn’t ready to disclose publicly. We’ve worked with companies who are hiring to lead new product lines, a new geographic expansion that will replace existing partners, and significant strategic pivots.

Avoiding Market Speculation

Publicizing an executive-level job search can lead to speculation, possibly affecting the confidence of investors and customers. Confidential searches help maintain stability in the public eye. As an example, we’ve worked with companies who want to quietly search for a CTO, so that there are no assumptions among prospective customers that they lack key technical leadership.

Minimizing Internal Disruption

Even when the incumbent is leaving voluntarily, the announcement of a high-level vacancy or search can cause unrest among current employees. You risk losing existing staff when there is uncertainty about their future leader, so it can be wise to inform your staff of their new leader once that individual is selected or when you can confidently talk about the profile and timeline of the change.

Internal Succession Challenges

If internal candidates are being considered for the role, a confidential external search can help prevent internal politics or conflict that might arise from open competition for the position. 

In these scenarios (and more), confidentiality can help manage various sensitivities and risks associated with high-stakes executive recruitment.

Our Tips for a Successful Confidential Search

Contain the Message

Create a specific and well-defined candidate profile so that you can identify a small number of target candidates who very closely match the ideal fit criteria.

Use a Trusted Partner

It’s important that this partner delivers a message that is highly compelling but does not give away the specifics of your company. Select a partner whom you can trust with sensitive information and who can be an advisor through the process.

Pre-qualify Candidates

Before disclosing company details and bringing them into the “circle of trust”, engage candidates in a pre-qualification stage to build trust, gather enough buy-in, and establish a sense of potential mutual fit.

Offer Transparency

Once candidates are pre-qualified and you are reasonably sure that they are a potential fit, open up about both the company details and the reasons behind the confidential nature of the search. Have them sign an NDA if appropriate. Extending trust and offering transparency, especially sharing the challenges of the role and the business will move you closer to a successful outcome.

Handle with Care

Design a selection process that maintains confidentiality internally. Be mindful of the details in open calendar invitations, schedule meetings off-site when possible and ensure that your selection committee understands the rationale and timing around the confidential search.

Successful Outcomes

As you build and evolve your business, growth and changes to your leadership team are inevitable. Finding and hiring the best people for key roles will make or break your company, and when you add sensitive circumstances, the stakes are raised. A well-planned and carefully executed confidential search will ensure a successful outcome.

Curious about how we do things?

Check out our process here. While our confidential and non-confidential search processes are similar, we ensure added guardrails are in place to protect and honour your organization’s request for confidentiality.

Interested in discussing a confidential search with our team of consultants? Reach out to

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Artemis Canada is a boutique executive search firm specializing in placing top talent in the tech sector across Canada, the United States, and Europe. Our team of experienced recruiters has a proven track record of finding exceptional candidates for a variety of roles, from C-suite positions to high-demand individual contributors. For more information on our services, please visit our website at


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