The Dos and Don’ts of Employee Poaching

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young man trying to steal briefcase Employee poaching: The art of luring good employees away, sometimes from your competition, by conveying why your organization is better than their current employer.

Think it’s shady business? Not if it’s done correctly.

A recent survey indicated 69 percent of employed workers are either seeking a new job or would be open to hearing about one. This puts them in the passive category, which means that although they have a job, they’d be up for a new opportunity if the right one came along. That’s where employee poaching comes in—and it’s something you may need to learn how to do well.

If you’re in the market for new employees and you’re looking at candidates from other organizations, there are some dos and don’ts to consider. Check them out below:

DO Craft the Right Messaging

Ultimately, your goal should be to convince a potential employee that your organization is better than the one he or she is with now. You can do this by crafting the right messaging, such as creating great job descriptions.

Most job descriptions are pretty bare bones. Take yours a step up by not only including company and job information, but also examples of company culture, salary details, benefits, testimonials, videos, links to latest company news, etc. This lays all your cards down on the table at once, giving your target everything he or she could possible need to make a sound decision.

DON’T Force Them to Do Anything

The worst thing you can do is actually take on those “poacher” stereotypes, like being rude, demanding, or making false claims. It’s not your job to force a stellar employee to join your team. It’s your job to communicate why a potential candidate should consider your organization in the first place.

Instead of forcing them to take a job, try alternative approaches. For instance, you can show examples of current employees who were in similar situations and are now successful in their new roles. You can also illustrate some major advantages of joining your organization, such as professional development opportunities or employee perks. Essentially, you’re showing a potential candidate why you’re an organization to watch, instead of forcing them to see it.

DO Take a Friendly Approach

Remember, professionals who are already employed don’t owe you anything. It’s your job to be as welcoming and courteous as possible when you’re trying to win them over. Think of it as your own elevator speech, but instead you’re the candidate and they’re the employer. Sell yourself, but be friendly about it.

For example, let’s say you found an awesome candidate on LinkedIn. Instead of just pointing him or her to a job description, introduce yourself, give the person a little company overview, and ask if he or she would like to set up a meeting. Present potential candidates the opportunity with no strings attached. This positions you and your company in a non-threatening light and gives them the space to make their own choices.

DON’T Go Overboard

There’s a difference between seeking out potential employees and going way overboard. If a candidate isn’t interested, respect his or her choice. There’s no need to spam their inboxes, stalk them on social networking sites, or call them incessantly. After a while, if they don’t take the bait, it’s time to back off and look elsewhere.

When you’re faced with a professional who’s not into it, you can leave him or her with your contact information or point the individual in the direction of an executive if he or she does want to chat again someday. That’s it. Don’t keep chasing a lead that doesn’t want to chase back. It’s time-consuming for you and a headache for the worker.

Employee poaching may not have the best connotations, but done right, it can be an effective hiring strategy. Be sure to keep the above in mind when you’re sourcing candidates this way. In the end, if employee poaching is the route you’re going to take, you may as well do it properly the first time in order to bring on those star employees.

What do you think?What are some other dos and don’ts of employee poaching?


By Val Matta