Any more than someone would write “Please Broadcast Widely” at the top of their resume, putting “Confidential” is just as silly in many ways.
I’m sure that this is written up somewhere as the appropriate thing to do, so I am not faulting anyone who does it, but it really is unnecessary.
It is just as silly to not show your current employer and to put in something like “Major Manufacturer.”
It is unfortunate, but those doing search these days have even less time for mysteries than those who were doing it before the Great Recession set in. The volume of email and paperwork that crosses one’s desk today is beyond belief.
If you want to get yourself excluded from an opportunity, you are welcome to create doubts about your availability or willingness to be considered. That is your choice. I would just ask you to keep in mind that NO ONE is actually going to call you to get your permission to submit your credentials or out of curiosity contact you to find out the name of your current employer except under very rare circumstances.
If you have concerns about who you are sending your resume to, don’t. Most people in the search community will certainly not send your resume to your current employer. That would be extremely stupid, although I suppose stupid does happen once in a while. If you are in a free standing part of a larger company, be sure your parent company is mentioned so this is less likely to happen.
One issue I run into frequently is the ever popular “To present.” Are you there or not? Sometimes I really need to know, and I will call you. With all the downsizing that has taken place, it is entirely reasonable that even though you recently left a particular firm that you are eligible for rehire. We wouldn’t risk embarrassing you or us by not asking. And, we wouldn’t want you to miss out on an opportunity just because you were following some resume writing advice as common as this.
Where do you live? This is another very popular secret. If you think you will fool someone into moving you across the country, think again. They may actually interview you before they hire you and after beating you with a hose get you to “confess” that you are not local. The incredible thing about this secret is that I see resumes without a home address that are local for the assignments I am handling.
If you really are paranoid, and I have no problem if you are, an alternative to putting “Confidential” on your resume is to provide the names of firms to whom you DON’T want your name submitted in your cover note. Based on the description of the company and its location, you may think you know who it is, and based on that you may not want to be considered. This is something easy to handle, and most firms do read what you send them.
The truth is that many of you are submitting your resume to email addresses where you don’t know the search firm. If you are not employed, there is certainly little risk. If you are employed and if it became known that you were looking around you might lose your job, I wouldn’t respond to such postings. It could very well be your current employer.
Other than that, you need to think very long and hard about the impact any “requirement” you impose will do to your candidacy. Any impediment in a world of surplus will cause you to be cast aside from an opportunity that may be the job of your dreams.
I try to insist that recruiters and firms that post with us provide their FULL business card information. While it doesn’t always happen, before you “click and shoot,” you can look them up on the web and see what you can learn. Many firms have a client list that you can peruse.
If your company is one of their clients, they can’t submit your candidacy to any of their other clients anyway. It is one of the rules of search that you don’t poach from your clients. They also wouldn’t breach your confidentiality in any case. To “tell” on you wouldn’t serve their business interests.
Keeping secrets is an important part of what we do as financial folks. Just be careful and exercise good judgment on which ones you ask others to keep.