Your Next Great Hire Is Working for Your Competition

Posted by Tony Fornetti on 4/12/18 1:54 PM
Tony Fornetti
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The Right Way to Woo Your Competitor’s Rockstar Employees

If you’re a hiring manager, you’ve probably noticed how much harder it is to land top candidates these days. Worse, keeping your own, current employees is no picnic either. That’s the nature of today’s employment market. For highly sought-after talent, the grass almost always looks greener someplace else.

But before you get too focused on your own difficulties, consider this: your competition is likely facing the same struggles.

Yes, I’m suggesting that you look to your own competition as a promising pool of potential talent. But let me be clear: I’m not advocating a poaching war.

I am suggesting that, if you want to win and keep the best hires, you make sure you do three things:

1. Invest in serious, in-depth Competitive Employer Analysis to identify potential candidates within your competitor base.
2. Reach Competitor Employees with Your Message
3. Actually be the best employer for Your Ideal Candidates – and be poised to remain the best employer, well into the future.

Here’s how:

1. Do a Competitive Employer Analysis
You keep a finger on the pulse of your competition’s products, performance, and marketing strategies, right? Apply that same thinking to their employment performance. How happy are their employees? What are their stated values? How robust and employee-friendly is their corporate environment? And, at an organizational level, how are they doing?

Organizational Upheaval
Financial difficulties, major reorganizations or bad press are all strong indicators that inside the organization, top talent may be looking to flee.

Negative Reviews on Glassdoor
Routinely check Glassdoor to find out what current and previous employees are posting about their employer. This gives you a good indication of how well the company’s stated mission matches their employees’ actual experience. It also helps you see how favorably (or unfavorably) you compare on key aspects such as salary, benefits, flexible scheduling, etc. Once you get in the habit of checking Glassdoor, you’ll be in a position to notice if the volumes of positive or negatives reviews rise or fall dramatically.

Never stop building your candidate pipeline. Make sure to weave a simple inquiry into routine business discussions outside your organization as well as inside, with peers, superiors and subordinates. It’s as simple as two sentences. “I admire your work and your opinions. If you ever know of anyone you think would be a great fit for the company, please tell me about them.”

Follow Individuals through LinkedIn and Social Media
Once you have names, find these people on professional networking sites like LinkedIn and, when possible, social media sites as well. Pay attention to changes like resume updates, recommendations, endorsements and commentary that signals to you their potential fit for your company – and their potential readiness to consider a move.

2. Marketing, Marketing, Marketing: Get Your Employer Brand Message Out There

Think about your employer brand messaging like you (and your marketing manager, if you have one) handle your customer brand messaging. You have a broad-based brand message that you communicate on your own website, through advertising and other macro marketing tactics. But then you also do some highly individualized outreach. You may do email campaigns, each written for specific, more targeted audiences.

The same approach applies here. Define and articulate your employer brand and be sure it shines through on your company website, LinkedIn profile and other advertising. But don’t stop there. Develop and refine specific recruiting messages for the more narrowly targeted talent pool you hope to attract. These will become the talking points for initial Inmails, emails, other social media messaging, even phone calls. And this is where the expertise of an executive recruiter can keep your message on point and highly effective. If you’re going to try it on your own, keep these rules top of mind:

  • Never go negative. Trashing your competition only undermines your own reputation. Don’t do it. Instead, craft your positive messages so they clearly promote your ability to deliver what their current employer can’t.
  • Train for the marathon, not just the sprint. You want to build up a strong pool of talented individuals for whom your brand message resonates, who will respect you now and for the long haul and who will, therefore, not only consider working for you someday but will happily refer other top performers to you as well.
  • Be aware of non-competes and other impediments to immediate hiring or on-boarding. In highly competitive industries, the rockstars may be bound by non-competes for a period of time. Be sure to ask about specific obligations before proceeding too far.

3. Be the Best Employer for Your Ideal Candidates
And stay on top of these warning signs within your own team or you may find yourself on the other end of this recruiting strategy:

LinkedIn Activity: When you see your top performers buffing up their resumes and cleaning up their profiles, it’s time to move in closer and find out how they’re doing, how well you’re meeting their needs and what you can change to keep them happy.
One Departure Can Lead to Mass Exodus: If someone in a key position leaves or is contemplating leaving, they’ve already disrupted the rhythm of the rest of the team. Again, move in closer, find out what’s working, what’s not and what you need to correct.
Behavior or Attitude Changes: Maybe there’s nothing you can point to, nothing tangible to find or read or measure. But you do know when something’s not quite right. If a star performers is suddenly disengaged, more quiet – or more disagreeable – than usual, start asking questions. If the person who has always been gung-ho to take on new projects is suddenly saying they need to pare things down, find out why and support them. And whenever you’re made aware that someone on your staff is experiencing profound difficulty in their personal life, initiate regular, compassionate communications in which your primary purpose is to demonstrate your respect for and support of that human being on your team.

While aggressively raiding your competition’s employee base is more likely to burn bridges and damage your reputation among your peers, the truth is, there are responsible, respectful ways of keeping your name front and center when a great employee is ready to make a move. By following these steps, you can make sure that the right talent gets wind of the best opportunities out there – and that those best opportunities are with you.

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Topics: For Employers