Et tu Brute: Should HR Pros Poach Their HR Friends’ Rockstars?

Dawn Burke Candidate Pool, Dawn Hrdlica, Executive Search

I stumbled into some new recruiting territory a few weeks back.  I have a current opening for a Jr. HR Generalist at Daxko. The opening is pretty great for us and will be a wonderful opportunity for a developmental generalist.  I love to take promising talent, shape it a bit, and watch awesomeness happen.

So I get a confidential heads up from a third-party that a newer recruiter, in her current role for 3+ years at a major employer in town, is in a bit of a rut.  This third-party told me this candidate had applied for my opening.  Why?  She’s hit a dead-end, wants more generalist work, is not growing enough, seems to have hit a ceiling, etc., blah.  Cool thing is she is solid, has proven longevity and has a record of delivering.  So I look in our ATS and do see that she has applied for my opening.

Me Likey…

So why is this story any different than a thousand other recruiting stories?  The reason I got the “confidential” heads up is because this A+ applicant works for not only one of the best places in town, but for one of my best HR friends.  This pro is not only a friend but a mentor.  And frankly, this is a relationship that personally and professionally I would hate to jeopardize.


So what to do?  And who is my loyalty too?

  • Is my loyalty to the presumably good candidate who deserves a new opportunity?
  • Is my loyalty to my HR pro friend who could be losing a team member?
  • Do I call the candidate and level with her? “Hey your boss is a great friend, mentor and peer to me.  Does your boss know you’ve applied?”
  • Or an even weirder leveling with her:  “Hey your boss is a great friend, mentor and peer to me.  So I can’t talk to you any further until you let your boss know you’ve applied” (How weird for her).

So what did I do?

I passed on her.  Didn’t call her.  And she was good.  Now, we had 100 other aps, equally if not more qualified.  But despite those facts, I work hard to build relationships in my HR community.  Poaching my friend’s teammates, even if the teammate officially applied for my job just can’t be worth the loss of trust in my HR community.

I imagine some would have done differently.   But I believe karma is a bitch….