NDA’s are important to recruiters until they are not


Disclaimer: I am not giving legal advice and do not follow anything that I say as legal advice.

Now that is out of the way in my career I have been asked by recruiters to sign NDAs for many companies that I have worked for. I don’t mind this. My job in IT deals with very sensitive information so this is a reasonable precaution. I gladly sign NDAs as a show of good faith that I don’t want to hurt an employer, only help them.

However, the flip side to this is that when you are interviewing for a position the recruiter/company will ask about certain things about your past companies that you can’t divulge. I had that situation yesterday. A recruiter asked me to go into additional details about what I did when I worked as an MSP consultant, and I couldn’t. I had signed an NDA and the details that I would have shared would have been proprietary information and because of that, she said that she couldn’t sell me to the hiring manager. Fine.

Now I just want to point out here, that if you are honest and follow your NDA it costs in real terms of job opportunities. The same recruiters who ask you to sign an NDA, have no problem asking you details when you have told them that you are under an NDA before when you were being interviewed. This causes me to wonder, are NDAs just a matter of convenience for companies and recruiters or respected?

If you have an employee like me who has real experience that they can’t go into because of an NDA, why not give them the benefit of the doubt and believe them? That is the logical consequence of asking candidates to sign an NDA. If you hire someone who talks about proprietary information about other companies, they will talk about your proprietary information with your competitors. What recruiting does is incentive-breaking NDAs and punish people who honor them.

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I’m not mad about not getting the opportunity yesterday. To be perfectly honest when she hung up another recruiter called me for a job that is a better fit. This isn’t about me, or the jobs that I didn’t get by being honest. This isn’t about me even saying I am honest. This is about hiring managers/recruiters thinking about what they have to do to get quality employees. If they have an NDA and you can’t verify that experience, then believe them. If you can’t believe them, there is so little trust in your organization that you don’t have teamwork.

I can hear you saying, but people lie. Yes, they do lie, but even if they lie about one part, the totality of their experience and an interview, background check, blood test, urine test, and video test will show the truth. Don’t rely too much on any single piece of information.