According to Manpower’s 2015 U.S. Talent Shortage Survey, 32% of employers are having difficulty filling jobs – one third of which say this is due to a lack of available applicants.
We’re in the midst of a talent shortage, and smart recruiters know that they have to go out and proactively source the candidates they want to hire. Oftentimes, this means poaching candidates that are already employed. The question that many ponder however, is whether poaching employees is an ethical practice.
This writer’s opinion: in many cases, yes.
If you aren’t poaching employees from your competitors, someone else is
According to LinkedIn’s Why and How People Change Jobs, 30% of workers are actively looking, 57% are reaching out to their network and open to hearing from a recruiter, and only 13% are completely satisfied and don’t want to move. The majority of workers are interested in pursuing other opportunities, but only a subset of them are searching and applying for your jobs.
The rest are sitting back and waiting for opportunities to come to them. If you aren’t actively poaching employees from your competitors, other organizations may be – and they’ll get the talent that you need.
There are times, however, where it would be considered unethical to poach employees
It’s usually considered unethical to poach employees from companies you have a business relationship with. This includes clients, vendors and partners. When you have a business relationship with people in an organization, they will often introduce you to others in the organization that you may not have otherwise met.
They trust that these introductions will help your companies work better together. Don’t damage this trust by promoting your own agenda at the sake of their organization.
It’s also unethical if you misrepresent your opportunity or slander your competitors in any way. Always be open, honest and kind when dealing with candidates. Otherwise, candidates will eventually see through you, and it may permanently damage their perception of your organization (and your reputation in the industry).
Working with direct hire agencies to poach candidates
Many organizations prefer to work with direct hire agencies to poach candidates because it allows a certain degree of separation from the practice. Direct hire agencies can gauge a candidate’s interest in a new opportunity before they disclose the name of the hiring organization.
This helps mitigate the risk of reaching out to a disinterested candidate who may find the move to be aggressive. Direct hire agencies also share the responsibility of poaching candidates so hiring organizations have an easy way out in the event that the company being poached calls them out.
When working with direct hire agencies to poach candidates, provide clear direction on which organizations you’d like to recruit talent from – and which you’d rather not. Organizations with cultures that resemble your own are a good place to start, particularly if you’ve had successful hires come from those organizations in the past.
Explain to your agency, in detail, what makes your opportunity worthwhile for a candidate who may be content in their current position. Again, be careful not to misrepresent your opportunity or badmouth your competitors – just be honest and open about what makes your organization unique.
Poaching employees is not a new practice by any means, but is becoming increasingly necessary as more organizations struggle to hire qualified talent. Chances are, your competitors are already poaching employees, and your organization may be left high and dry if you don’t use this proactive approach to recruiting.