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Competitive Recruiters Poaching Talent?

Competitive Recruiters Poaching Talent?

Carol Morrison | i4cp

December 22, 2009

Are corporate recruiters re-inventing the rules that govern their work when it comes to sourcing talent? Internal recruiting functions may be headed in that direction, suggest results of i4cp’s new study on competitive recruiting practices. The figures show some companies are putting aggressive sourcing methods to work.

Traditionally, internal corporate recruiters have abided by what used to be called a “gentlemen’s agreement.” Actively seeking to poach top talent from competitors just wasn’t done. At least it wasn’t done overtly or regularly in most industries. But respondents to our study might be signaling the arrival of a new day in the quest for the best candidates and a new stage in the war for talent.

Such aggressive approaches could be the result of mediocre success among many internal recruiters. Our study shows that the largest percentage of respondents (53%) rated their firms only about average in recruitment effectiveness. A third claimed better-than-average results, but just 5% called their recruiting effectiveness “excellent.”

Respondents who rely on their own internal recruiting functions to source talent agree that applying the kinds of assertive techniques that external search firms, or headhunters, sometimes use could help them improve their results. Nearly three-quarters say that, to a high or very high extent, headhunting methods increase recruitment effectiveness in certain areas. Almost as many respondents credit the techniques with helping target strategic talent. Other potential benefits include cost savings, faster recruiting results and even the ability to “send a signal” to competitors.

Doing what the headhunters do

One in four study respondents said that, to a high or very high extent, they advertise in local markets or regions of competitors. Also to a high or very high extent, 20% acknowledge that they actively source competitors’ employees in key and/or skilled positions, and 10% say they contact competitors’ employees directly.

Some organizations say that direct contact of competitors’ staff is their means of seeking out passive candidates – individuals currently employed but who might be open to a job switch if an offer came their way. Jaime Elving, Project Manager of Executive Recruiting & Onboarding for i4cp member company PNC Financial Services, confirms her organization’s use of personal contacts with employees of other firms. “Passive candidates are some of the people we’re most interested in talking with,” she says. “Even if the person our recruiters speak with isn’t an actual candidate, he or she may be able to give us names of colleagues or friends who are interested.” PNC also advertises extensively in local markets, achieving the dual goals of reinforcing its employment brand while also communicating its business brand.


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