Everything you need to know about poaching top talent

Have you ever tried to nab an awesome worker from a competitor? Learn everything you need to know about how to poach top talent effectively

Everything you need to know about poaching top talent

Business Strategy


by Justin Reynolds

From entry-level developers and copywriters to senior-level managers and C-suite executives, your organization will only be as strong as the people who power it. If you want to take your company to the next level and continue growing, you need to hire the best people for the job — whatever it might be.

In a perfect world, the best candidates for every open position at your company would be actively looking for their next gig. Unfortunately, it hardly ever works out that way. If you want to assemble the best staff possible, from time to time, you will have to look to poach top talent from other organizations — even if those individuals aren’t active job seekers.

Is it wrong to engage employed individuals to see if they are interested in an opportunity at your organization? Absolutely not.

To begin with, nearly 25% of employees would hop on another job opportunity if it came with a 10% bump in salary, a fact we first revealed in our Engagement Report. So at the very least, if you were able to offer candidates a little bit more money than they are currently making, you’ve got a good chance at piquing their interest.

It turns out there are many reasons organizations should consider poaching talented candidates from competitors when important positions open up. Here are some statistics compiled by Jibe to consider:

  • 71% of employed individuals are either actively looking for new jobs or open to learning about new opportunities
  • 65% of professionals start looking at job openings within three months of beginning a new gig
  • 58% of employees look at other job opportunities at least once a month
  • 72% of workers keep tabs on job openings regardless of their employment status
  • 44% of employees subscribe to job alerts

Suffice it to say, a lot of employed folks have one foot out the door — even if it’s just in their heads.

When done correctly, poaching top talent from other companies can strengthen your own organization while, at the same time, weakening your competitors. There’s a reason Tesla keeps poaching from Apple, after all.

Next time a critically important position opens up at your organization, you may want to see how strong your poaching skills are. If you’ve never tried poaching candidates before, we’re here to help. What follows is a list of a few tips to keep in mind that should make your poaching efforts more successful.

1. Put together a list of people you’re interested in
First things first: You shouldn’t just cold email every single senior-level worker at competing organizations and expect that you’ll get the perfect one to bite. Instead, do your due diligence to first figure out which candidates appear likely to fit best in the role that is opening up at your organization. Look for candidates who are in similar spaces as you and have impressive experience in a comparable role. Narrow down your list to a manageable number of folks and then begin your outreach. Keep in mind that you should almost always narrow your search to people who are employed. The most skilled employees usually have jobs.

2. Use LinkedIn
Cold calling and cold emailing are both impersonal. Finding someone through Facebook can also feel like an invasion of privacy. Once you’ve decided to begin your digital outreach to candidates you want to poach, reach out to them through LinkedIn. After all, these are the precise kind of communications the professional social network was designed for.

3. Attend relevant conferences and trade shows
The best employees are always trying to become even more valuable and talented. To this end, they regularly attend seminars, conferences, and trade shows to learn about the new developments and pervasive trends in their respective spaces. If you’re trying to poach a CMO from another company, you may want to see where that person plans to be over the next several months and make sure you wind up there too. Such information is usually easily accessible online. Introduce yourself to get the conversation started.

4. Be persistent — but not annoying
There’s no fault in reaching out to great candidates and gauging whether they’d be interested in pursuing an opportunity at your organization. But if an employed individual tells you that they are not interested in working for your company, don’t continue harassing them. It’s OK to be persistent when someone appears to be genuinely interested in another opportunity, but once they tell you they are not, move on to the next candidate. Being too pushy is not the best look for your organization.

5. Do everything you can to keep your poached employees engaged
Let’s say you were able to poach an extremely talented engineer from a competitor. That’s great. But keep in mind that a competitor will eventually try to do the same to your company. Convincing talented folks to leave their current organizations and join yours is only the beginning of the challenge. Once you have an incredibly skilled employee in your organization, you have to do everything within your power to keep that individual engaged so that they don’t jump ship when the next company inevitably tries to poach them. Make sure you offer high-potential candidates very competitive compensation packages. Equip them with the tools they need to reach their full potential. Invest adequate resources in their professional development to make sure you are supporting their continued growth. Essentially, do everything you can to decrease the chances your poached employees will even consider looking for a gig elsewhere.

6. Always be on the lookout for great future candidates
Once you’ve started poaching candidates from other companies, it’s time to refine your approach. Don’t wait until a position opens up to start looking for poachable candidates. Instead, be on the lookout for the best candidates all year long. That way, when you anticipate an opening at your organization in the future, you will already know which candidates would make suitable replacements. Once you’ve identified candidates who would make great contributions to your organization in the future, start conversations with them to develop a relationship. That way, when opportunities open up, you’ll already have a head start on convincing talented individuals that the position is right for them.

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!