How to Steal Talent Without Going to Jail

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Several years ago, a firm hired me to directly source talent from its competitor even though the owner had a gentleman’s agreement in place with the CEO whose company he was about to raid. Mind you, this was before these agreements were deemed illegal.

The owner engaged as his secret weapon rationalizing that his company wasn’t doing the poaching, and therefore, he wasn’t breaking his agreement. In the end, he got the talent he needed, and then some. I was so successful in my efforts that my client renewed our contract.

Many companies are desperate for talent and will do just about anything. Here’s my advice on how to steal talent without going to jail.

How to Steal Talent Without Going to Jail

Nice Guys Never Cross the Finish Line

Some say, “Nice guys finish last.” When it comes to finding talent, however, nice guys do not even cross the finish line. They spin their wheels in the mud while assertive hiring managers zoom away with carloads of talent. Which driver would you rather be?

You are Either In or Out of the Race

Companies are pulling up stakes and moving their headquarters to major metropolitan locations. I can assure you, they are not doing this for the view. They are coming for talent. Amazon’s recent search for H2 is the perfect example of this. Many companies sighed in relief when the news broke that Amazon had chosen a location that was no where close to their headquarters.

This relief is only temporary. Here’s why. Burger King doesn’t do much in terms of scouting locations. They don’t have to. Their arch rival McDonald’s has done all the leg work. Burger King simply looks for a pad site adjacent to or next door to McDonald’s. You’ll see a similar approach taken by company’s that have been closely watching Amazon’s H2 process.

Now that your town is on people’s radar screen, (thanks to the hoopla Amazon has created) other major corporations will soon be landing in your neighborhood. This means that if you need talent, now’s the time to steal it. And when you do, make sure you keep it, which in itself is a topic for another article.

Talent Recruitment is a Relationship Business

Technology can facilitate the process, but what is the personal impression you make on candidates who may be looking for a new home? When I work with clients on creating Evergreen Talent growth strategies, we spend a good chunk of time discussing how to create a unique connection with people you hope to one day employ.

Here’s one way to do this. Have the VP of the department personally call candidates you’re interested in pursuing. Think about it. What’s more powerful? A call from Bob in HR asking if you’d be interested in interviewing for a job as a sales rep or a call from the VP of sales?

How to Steal Talent Without Going to Jail

Seize the Low Hanging Fruit

Why is it that we’d rather hire the candidates that we hunt down and woo, rather than those who are in front of us ready to entertain our offer? Sometimes we get caught up in the excitement of the hunt and lose focus.

Poaching talent can be as easy as 1) hiring away the sales person at a cosmetics counter who successfully upsold you, when others could not or 2) inviting your favorite coffee barista to a conversation about meshing your organization and her next career move. Good people abound…some may have been in front of you all along.

Poaching talent while safeguarding your workers is one of the most important skills you can master in the coming years. The battle for talent has only just begun.

Be assertive. Go after the talent and vow not to come home until you have what you came for!

by Roberta Chinsky Matuson

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