It is often said that everything is fair in love and war. But in today’s dynamic and fiercely competitive world, the phrase “everything is fair in recruiting talented people” also holds true. Nowadays, recruiters are doing everything possible to attract talented candidates. One such recruiting practice is “poaching” candidates, which, in the hiring world simply means luring candidates from a competitive organization by giving them a better pay package and/or additional perks.
“Poaching” candidates is an aggressive hiring tactic which is practiced globally. But this practice has often been criticized by industry experts and there is a divided opinion when it comes to the morality of whether a candidate should be poached. Many perceive it to be an unethical practice, while others consider it to be the best method to recruit talented personnel for the job.
So, is it a wise strategy to hire employees from your competitors? We will try to answer this question in this blog.
First, let us look at the pros and cons of poaching a candidate.
Provides a fresh perspective
When you hire from your competitor, the talent recruited will already be aware about the current trends in the industry and the best practices. He/she will, thus, provide a fresh perspective when it comes to utilizing the company’s resources as best as possible.
Creates a win-win situation
Poaching employee creates a win-win situation for the poacher and the employee being poached. It helps the company with the recruitment of a skillful and experienced employee who needs little to no training to start being productive on the job. The poached candidates, on the other hand, get to leverage their experience and are able to bargain a better deal for themselves.
In this highly competitive world, companies that are less productive “poach” skilled employees so that they can benefit from the best skills in their industry. This will make them perform better and will help boost the productivity and revenues of your organization.
Promotes unethical practice
Employees often get lured by the tactics of poachers. But this may cause trouble for them if they have a pre-existing agreement with their current company to stay with them for a stipulated time. There have been cases where existing companies have sued their employees who have been poached, as well as companies that poached them. The poachers have had to pay hefty amounts for in court settlements. Even the career of the poached employee gets destroyed as they cannot go back to the previous company again.
Also, if the employee that has been poached has taken away with them contacts and customers of the existing company to the competitor, it can lead to not only fines for them but also criminal proceedings resulting in a nasty legal issue that damages all the parties involved in some way or the other
Might damage reputation of both the employer and employee
For the recruiters and staffing agencies, finding the best talent is the right attitude to follow. But the problem starts when you become over-aggressive or too focused on poaching employees. In such cases the company poaching candidates risks tarnishing their reputation as an employer and the poached employee risks being branded a frivolous job hopper. And nobody wants to hire a job hopper.
Generally speaking, poaching employees is an unethical practice. But you might come across situations, when poaching is inevitable. For example when your best performing employee suddenly leaves and you are left with no option but to turn towards competitors to quickly close the position. In such situations, you are not left with much choice or you have to risk losing business.
But even if certain situations demand poaching, there are certain best practices you should follow.
1. Pass the right message to the employee being poached
The ultimate goal of poaching is to utilize the skills of the employee being poached in the best possible manner for meeting the organizational goals. The best way to do this is by making them believe that your company is better than the competitor, where they are currently working. You can do this by posting relevant information on job boards like LinkedIn. Never ever force the employee of your competitor to join your organization. Rather, show him/her the live examples of long term benefits provided to the employees in terms of perks and other benefits. The key is to poach in such a way that they are convinced to join your organization, instead of forcing them to take the decision.
2. Keep your tone friendly and approachable
Poaching employees that have reached a particular level in the hierarchy requires a different approach altogether. These employees need to be pampered and welcomed properly, especially when you have been trying to get them for quite some time. Instead of asking them whether they are interested in the profile, introduce yourself and give a brief introduction about the company. The next step is to ask them, whether they would like to meet. If they agree, meet them in a friendly manner and discuss about the perks available for the position. This way you can keep your tone friendly and approachable while planning to poach in an environment where they can voice their opinions openly. This will go a long way in ensuring that you recruit the best talent through poaching.
3. Never force the issue
There might be a situation where the employee to be poached does not agree with you or does not listen to you properly. In such situations, never force him/her to join your organization. Also, don’t be that stereotype poacher, who is rude and demanding and makes false claims. Always take the softer approach. If you have a dominating personality, it is best to avoid getting into a discussion with the employee of the competitor, and leave the task to someone calmer.
4. Do not bombard the employee to be poached with heaps of emails
If an employee of the competitor does not show interest in your company, do not go overboard and bombard him/her with heaps of emails. At the end of the day, you need to respect their opinion. Wait for sometime. In case, they don’t respond, try some other potential candidate.
5. Avoid legal trouble
While poaching, ensure to avoid any legal trouble with the company you are poaching from. Also, ensure that the employee that you are poaching is not bound by a non-compete agreement. There are certain anti-poaching clauses which prevent companies from recruiting employees from similar industries, same geographic location and for a specific period of time. Many a times, these non-compete agreements can result in a lawsuit, if you do not check the credentials of the employee being poached properly. Never intentionally try to prevent an employee from fulfilling his/her duties in the current organization by spreading false rumors with the objective of accelerating the hiring process, it can lead to tarnishing your reputation and result in costly legal action.
6. Do not make it a habit
While looking for candidates from competitors can benefit you sometimes, making it a habit can hurt your brand image as an employer. You will also be branded a desperate recruiter. Poaching is best done sparingly. It can never be a regular hiring approach.
In the end, it is fair to say that hiring from your competitors has its gray areas when it comes to putting it into practice. But with the ever increasing competition in the recruiting world, taking the shortcut and picking a superstar employee from the competitor is an easy way to build a world-class team. More and more organizations are using poaching as a strategy to attract talented employees. It is no doubt a tempting proposition. But before you take the final call, pause for a minute and think about all the points that we have discussed in this blog, and then decide for yourself whether it is a wise strategy to hire from your competitors or not.