By Sharon L. Florentine
Poaching. Logic would have predicted the high unemployment rate would have put an end, at least temporarily, to the practice of recruiters and hiring companies competing for each other’s employees. Logic would be wrong, said a number of recruiters and hiring experts who spoke to TheLadders.
High unemployment has simply created more competition for employed candidates. “Our clients want the candidates who are currently working for their competitors,” said one Texas-based executive search professional who wished to remain anonymous. “They feel that these folks are obviously valuable since they haven’t been laid off, and they’d rather hire them than a candidate who may have been unemployed for some time and who they see as undesirable.”
As a result, executive search firms are under increasing pressure to poach employees and are forced to hone their skills at dislodging candidates from employment, which became harder to do during the recession that bred a desire among employees for job security above all other entitlements.
It’s usually about more than just a higher salary, said the recruiter from Texas. These ‘poachees’ are offered greater upward mobility, the opportunity to work on new products and up-and-coming projects, a better work-life balance, educational opportunities, etc.
When it comes to poaching, most executive recruiters practice a two-step tactic to dislodge the employee, the recruiter said. The executive search firm plants the seeds of doubt about leaving safe employment for a better opportunity and the hiring company (usually a human resources manager or hiring manager) picks a ripe candidate when they’re ready. It’s a bit of salesmanship, he said.
“We have to plant the seed of doubt, and then the hiring manager has to close the deal. In partnership with our hiring manager, we put on our salesperson hat, and we go to work finding out what we have to offer to incite those folks to move out of their current job.”
Once the candidate is sufficiently intrigued, and the seeds of doubt are planted, the recruiter said, the hiring manager or human resources manager at the client is responsible for closing the deal and making good on what the recruiter has promised.
“If we’ve accomplished what we set out to do, then by the second interview, these candidates are starting to think, ‘Maybe I’ve been too focused on this company (or job or career path).