The Pros and Cons of Recruiting Talent Away from Your Competition

By Jezabel Southard

Posted on August 11, 2015

Companies and their staffing firms have a number of recruiting strategies at their disposal. One with the largest impact is to recruit talent away from your direct competition, also known as poaching talent.

While this strategy sounds aggressive, it’s also in line with many other strategies used in marketing and sales, where the goal is to recruit customers away from competing businesses. Reaching out to established, employed talent has definite benefits – but there are also potential drawbacks as well. Here’s an overview:

Why Recruit Talent Away From Your Competition?: The Pros

Benefits to recruiting talent away from your competition include:

  • Fresh ideas, new perspectives, and up-to-date experience. Top talent that is already working in the field will be up to date on trends, events, and best practices – and talent coming from competing companies will infuse a fresh perspective on your company’s practices.
  • Where one candidate goes, others may follow. A top candidate who leaves another company for yours may trigger an “exodus” of like-minded individuals and customers, enriching your productivity and bottom line.
  • Can you get better than a top candidate’s best? “Passive” job candidates are those who are already working for one of your competitors, but who will accept a position with a company that offers a better “fit” for their skills, work style, and goals. A better fit may lead to better productivity – which means that not only do you get new talent, but you get more from them than their former employer did.

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Recruiting Pitfalls to Watch Out For: The Cons

While recruiting talent away from competing companies may sound like a good idea, it can come with certain risks. Work with your staffing firm – and, when needed, your company’s legal counsel – in order to minimize risks. Use tools like:

  • Mind your reputation. Recruiting the best talent you can find is par for the course; however, companies that seem too aggressive or too focused on “poaching” only one competitor may find that their reputation among clients and customers suffers for it. Use good judgment and target only the talent you consider the best potential “fit.”
  • Know the parameters. Candidates coming from other companies may have noncompete agreements, nondisclosure agreements, or other contracts with their current employers that will affect their ability to do their best work for your company. Make sure your legal counsel reads the fine print before an offer is made.
  • Recruit people, not property. While recruiting new talent is fair game, expecting them to bring intellectual property or trade secrets with them is not. Understand the boundaries so you know exactly who you’re getting when you hire talent away from the competition.

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Categories: HR and Management Advice, Staffing Tips & Recruiting Trends

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