The HR content machine, Tim Sackett, wrote over at his blog a few weeks ago about the need for corporate recruiters to aggressively go after talent in the market. Tim, as most professional talent acquisition folks do, scoffed a bit at the term “poaching,” which many people use to describe this.
The fact of the matter is that I don’t like the term “poaching” when it is used regarding talent acquisition. Business Insider loves to use this in titles when they are talking about normal recruiting activity (Here,Here, and Here to share just a few). There’s nothing illegal about “recruiting” someone from another firm. Nothing!
… So, why is it that we use the word “poach” when describing something that is just basic business?
It’s because when an employee leaves you for your competition, it pisses you off! You feel robbed. You feel like it should be illegal. “Wait! I spent so much time and effort to get you here and now you’re just leaving me for her!!!”
But, it’s not illegal. It’s not “poaching.” It’s business. You either do it well, or you use words like “poach.”
… No, that’s Capitalism. That’s free market. It’s what our country is built on.
I agree with Tim. Poaching is what you do to an egg. Identifying, attracting, screening and selecting a talented executive from a competitor is recruiting. It’s what we get paid to do.
But to some, people, that’s apparently dirty. Less sophisticated. Less refined. It makes them describe our activity as “poaching.” It should be illegal.
Is that true within your own HR teams? Are the recruiters considered “less than” traditional HR people? If so, I call BS. Talent acquisition pros are certainly different, but they’re not dirty. Here’s how:
We sell. There are few Benefits directors who can quote Alec Baldwin in Glen Garry, Glenn Ross. I haven’t met a recruiter yet who doesn’t know that second place gets you steak knives.
We hunt. We call into companies to try to learn who the players are. We beg departing employees for phone lists, names, contacts. We go after people.
We value aggressive behavior. I want people who ask for forgiveness, not permission.
We measure and pay for production. TA folks would rather get in trouble for making one too many calls, as opposed to holding back.
We steal. All day, every day, I want our team to steal the most important asset our competitors have. All damn day. Companies don’t own people.
Our skill sets are different than the folks in Training, but don’t make what we do dirty. Don’t describe it as poaching. It’s recruiting. It’s valuable. Check the market.
No one pays a generalist 30% of the salary of the person they performance managed or a Training Director 30% of base for a good training course. The market values recruiting. Make sure your HR partners do, too.
I have spent the last 20 years of my professional life advising leaders to make great talent decisions to drive business results. In my current gig, I lead talent acquisition and management for a multi-billion-dollar, 100% employee-owned construction company. I geek out on analytics, succession planning, etc. and love it when we position folks to do their best work. That’s fun stuff. I tease bad HR people, because I think we can all do better, myself included. That’s fun, too.