How to Recruit and Poach Candidates the Right Way

April 8, 2014 at 6:00 AM Kathleen de Lara

poachcandidates.pngCompanies in search of qualified talent often look to the industry’s top performers for their next great hire. Recruiting the best to be the best? Go figure.

There’s little wonder that the often criticized method would work. A candidate hired from a rival company knows the industry, has strategies to reach business goals, can anticipate trends, and is likely be connected to an extensive network that your team can leverage.

While hiring from competitors can be a viable option for boosting your company’s performance, there’s certainly a degree of ethics, legality, and good taste that accompanies rubbing shoulders with the folks down the block.

Sourcing employees already working for competitor companies, an action also known as poaching, is a common technique used by a number of recruiters for filling open reqs. Apple, Google, Facebook, and Samsung are among a long list of both large and small scale companies benefitting from the widely debated method.

At the core of recruiting is this: Any company that wants to succeed is interested in hiring the best employees. The search for the perfect team, however, is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the ever-shifting hiring zenith that’s contingent on industry changes.

What’s the difference between poaching and passive recruiting?
Passive recruiting involves reaching out to qualified candidates who aren’t actively looking for a job, but may be open to an offer. On the other hand, poaching talent adds another layer — recruiting candidates who are currently employed by another company, usually a competitor, with the allure of better compensation and benefits.

By understanding how to build a great business with good employees, managers will know how to thrive with exceptional workersHere are some tips for sourcing your ideal candidate who’s not really single, but possibly ready to mingle:

Keep it legit.

Avoid getting into legal battles with the company you’re poaching from by making sure that the candidate, who shares the recruiter’s mutual interest of joining the team, is not bound to their current company with a non-compete agreement.

These “no solicitation,” anti-poaching clauses prevent companies under the same or similar industries from creating competition and taking each other’s best employees. It often applies to companies located in the same geographic region and for a specific period of time.

Non-compete agreements vary between states and companies, and in some cases, hiring an employee who leaves their current company for yours may result in a lawsuit.

poaching candidatesTortious interference with business relations occurs when an organization intentionally damages business relationships by preventing an individual from fulfilling their contracted duties. For example, a recruiter who spreads false rumours about an employee to his current employer damages their professional relationship with the objective of accelerating the employee’s hiring process with the new company — that is, if the hire actually comes to fruition.

Another example of illegal poaching would be recruiting a candidate to damage their current company by taking away this individual’s specialized skills that set apart his company from yours, and capitalizing on those skills.

Coming between a candidate and their employer in this kind of questionable manner can ruin your company’s reputation and is likely to result in costly legal action. 

Recruit talent, not the resume.

A great director of sales at Company X may not perform as well at Company Y, regardless of how similar the industries are. 

As with recruiting in general, despite how impressive a candidate appears on paper, make sure that the individual is the right fit for the team. Touch bases with references and thoroughly research a candidate’s background and portfolio to get a sense of their working style and to screen their cultural fit for your company.

In the hunt for talent, don’t forget to include those who approach your company with an application, resume, and interest in working with the team. One can’t create desire within a candidate, and by having someone in the pipeline who already has that drive eliminates the step of attracting the potential hire.

Fire fast, hire slow, poach slower.

While seeking out candidates who work for competitors may help your company successfully develop and scale, continually looking to rival businesses for your next hire can be detrimental to your brand. Not to mention it comes across as crude, desperate, and stingy.

Companies whose teams are greatly comprised of poached talent give the impression they don’t know how to hire for themselves, reaping the reward of other companies’ responsibilities and labor finding qualified candidates.

Recruiting employees from competitors can work as a helpful solution for a limited time, but consider the benefits of cultivating fresh talent in the market by making hires through customary sourcing practices — researching, attracting, and engaging with viable candidates.

You may have your hands on the next big thing, the employee your competitors are interested in hiring. Stay tuned for part two of this blog series for tips on preventing your staff from being poached.

And while you wait, don’t forget to check out our free eBook on recruiting tech talent:

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