Finding great, new talent for your company can be a real challenge. Chances are that any post to a job board is going to get you a raft of submissions, many of which are sub-par. Your dream candidate might be in the raft of submissions, but lost in a sea of candidates you shouldn’t even bother with. You could use a headhunter to find you the right person, but we know how much that costs. What about when you know exactly who you want? How do you start the conversation with the person to a) figure out if they are looking and b) get them interested in you (even if they aren’t looking). According to Forbes, it’s all about a soft sell and personal contact: How Leaders Hire Top Tech Talent.
Learning, communication, and connection
The Forbes article lays out a pretty straightforward approach, so I’ll leave it to you to read the details, what’s more important to explore is the philosophy behind the approach. The article is focused on you (the leader) poaching a stellar person from another company. This is tough. Any company (and leader) worth their salt should see their person is the cat’s meow and be making sure that person is happy. But there’s always a chance right? Maybe your opportunity gives the person a chance to learn something new, maybe work with an old friend, even just be in a part of the city closer to home (i.e. a shorter commute). You don’t know what might lure the person away, so it’s up to you to learn it. Yes, essentially, you’re going to snoop on them on Twitter, LinkedIn, their blog, Facebook to see if you can figure out what makes them tick. Maybe you pick up that your prospect has a new baby and would like to be at home more. So offering a position that allows them work from home time would be tempting. If a person is checking our your technology (in general) as a hobby you can appeal to that in a first contact. Hiring that top talent is really like dating. You’re trying to woo the person to be interested in you and your company, and get a first date. From there, it’s all going to be about a slow connection and communication strategy to see if they might be interested and get them to meet with you.
It goes without saying that your prospect is taking a big risk here. At lots of companies just the mere hint that someone is looking around makes waves and causes trouble. So, be careful about how and when you reach out to them. With any luck you might be able to lure this new, crack employee over to you. And it’s a long game. You might not be able to lure them away now, but if they are interested but just not the right time for a move, you might be able to win them over another day.
There’s a flip side too
If you’re reading this and a cold chill is running down your spine—good. That means you know you have top talent, people you can’t afford to lose, who you realize you might not be listening to and caring for as much as you could be. That cold chill is your wake up call. I’m not suggesting that you spy on your people outside of work (that will only backfire on you), but rather making sure that you’re engaging your top people and letting them know how valued they are. Not preferential treatment, per se, but listening and making sure your top people are happy, engaged, and connected to the company. If you read the Forbes article from the flip side, it’s also a recipe for keeping your top people and preventing them from being poached. In reality poaching someone away to a new job is just the same as keeping someone at their current one: it’s about knowing what makes them tick, makes them happy, and what they want out of their careers.
It’s your move—or theirs.