Steal Their Recruiters!

Winning the war for talent requires an aggressive approach. Unfortunately, many HR types are rather passive “bambi” types that often shy away from using aggressive recruiting tactics. Recruiting and retaining top talent isn’t a “tea party.” It’s a war?and that means aggressive tactics and strategies. There are very few laws governing how you compete against other firms in recruiting and retention, so most of the reluctance on the part of HR and line managers to be aggressive falls into the “lack of courage” category. So if you want to be aggressive and show your boldness here is an example of a winning strategy: Steal Their Best Recruiters: Recruiting When you compete head-to-head with a competitor in the recruiting war and you end up losing more than your share of the time…it’s time to play hard ball. When you lose a top recruit, call them up and ask them directly for the name of the recruiter that convinced them to say yes. If they are reluctant to answer, wait three months and call them again. Next ask your top talent which recruiters call them on a regular basis (and who also make great sales pitches). Once you have identified the best recruiters that are targeting you, it’s either “Tonya Harding time” (joking, of course) or time to recruit them away from their current firm. Compared to the damage they can do, good recruiters are relatively cheap and they are almost always willing to listen to a better offer. Advantages for recruiting the best recruiters:

  • It sends a message to the competitor that you play hard ball when you are attacked.
  • Article Continues Below
  • If you do it to one competitor, it might serve as a preemptive message and therefore discourage others from competing directly with you.
  • It weakens your competitor.
  • It’s hard to recruit recruiters anyway, so you might as well target the ones that hurt you the most.
  • It helps you learn your competitors recruiting strategies and tools.
  • It helps you learn which of your employees that your competitors were recruiting.

If your current recruiters argue against this tactic on the premise that it might foster retaliation by other firms, explain to them that you target your competitor’s customers all the time and the retaliation argument never comes up there. If they are still reluctant, tell them that is why you have the best team and strategy the competition will only make us stronger. If that argument fails…fire them and send them to your competitor! Once the war has started…you must attack your enemy at every opportunity. Steal Their Best Recruiters: Retention Whenever you lose a key employee it is essential that you find out not only why they left, but also who recruited them away. It is even more important, however, to identify the recruiters who are targeting your employees long before anyone leaves. Encourage top talent to track which recruiters call them, what arguments they make, and the effectiveness of their sales approach. By developing a “who’s who” list you can then train your phone screeners (with caller ID) on who the enemy is! In addition, by identifying the top arguments made by a competitor’s recruiters you can develop a counter/blocking strategy for each argument. A New Competitor When a new firm tries to open a new facility in your neighborhood, it is essential that you act quickly before they get a foothold. You might start by targeting the first “scout” recruiter they send to the area. You might even target all of their new recruiters as soon as they come on board (if you are the “Rambo-type” and you want them to scale back on their expansion plans). At the very least, you need to identify and protect the key talent at your firm that they are likely to target. Summary If everyone has an equal team of good recruiters it will be a long and grueling recruiting battle. However if your firm has all of the best recruiters you will win the talent war hands down! Those with the best recruiters win…it’s that simple.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *