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7 Ways to Find Good Talent without Stealing

Summary: Find good talent using these ethical methods instead of stealing candidates from competitors.

Here are ethical methods you can use to find good talent for your company.
With the need for online talent steadily on the rise, 'stealing' talent from another company has become a regular practice. The key word to consider here is stealing. What does that really mean, and does it affect the way companies recruit in this super tight job market? Where to work, how long to stay with a certain company and where to grow are all difficult decisions for employees. Companies will find that it is much more difficult to 'steal' an employee than is commonly realized.
First and foremost we must examine the ethical issue. Is it ethical to offer an opportunity to an employed individual? People who have jobs look for work; they must work in order to continue earning a living. At the same time, I often advise my clients that "the best time to look for a job is when you have one." It is much more difficult to find work when you are unemployed, as most employers don't want an employee who has been out of work too long. Also, some job seekers are in search of a more advantageous salary or better benefits, and the best way to assess a new offer is to compare that offer to your current job.
On the recruiting side, honesty and integrity are unfortunately not always associated with the recruiting business. There are many unacceptable practices employed to 'hook' good talent. I have heard of recruiters stealing company directories, offering to split their own fees with candidates, lying about the 'actual' specs of a job to lure prospective candidates, and even pretending to be a colleague in order to gain trust before referring the candidate to a recruiter in their own office. I think that how a recruiter goes about finding talent is very much tied to how successful his or her business is, and eventually bad business practices catch up.
Stealing a candidate from a direct competitor is unethical. In many cases it has legal ramifications. If direct competition is not an issue and you conduct yourself appropriately as a recruiter, candidates are fair game. If a company is worried about losing employees, maybe they should concentrate their efforts on creating the type of environments that retain good employees.
There are many ethical ways to search for creative talent without necessarily raiding an existing company. In order to find good employees, one must be creative. There are many different ways to find good talent without sending an iPhone to the CTO at the competitor's company (he or she probably already has one).
Here are 7 ways to find good talent without resorting to stealing.
  1. Research, Research, Research: Know your business, know who works where, what companies are on the downswing, and where the downsizings are. If at all possible, do your own research - you're more likely to retain what you have read first hand.
  2. Creativity Wins: Where you find your talent will set you apart from the pack. Searching job boards is not going to get you the hottest talent, but coming up with ingenious ways will work wonders. Investigate job fairs, IT meetings, schools, alumni listings, wedding pages, mailing lists, etc.
  3. Strategic Advertising: There is an art to posting jobs and searching for talent online. Placing advertisements willy-nilly will not win you the best candidates. It's where you place that wins. What type of candidate you are looking for should determine where you place your ads.
  4. Hitting the Events: Talented people looking for work know they need to hit the ground running, which means they will attend industry events. Developing a presence for you and/or your company will keep you plugged into the community.
  5. Networking: Referrals are your best form of business. Even if you don't place a candidate, how you work with them will determine whether or not they refer talent or clients to you. A good ear goes a long way!
  6. Internet Knowledge: I don't just mean research! Knowing the industry is critical. Being able to talk to a candidate about what they do and really understand it is crucial. Candidates also need to trust that you know enough to evaluate potential employers and deem whether or not they are good places to work. Candidates ask the craziest things; being able to answer as many questions as possible regarding an impending job is important.
  7. Personality: How you act to both your candidates and your clients is everything. Spending a few extra minutes with someone you won't necessarily make a placement with is crucial. People remember the smallest things and karma is powerful. How you treat one person will come back to you.
This is a basic overview to conducting yourself as the best and most ethical recruiter possible. Your personal ethics will lend a lot to how you operate your business and how your candidates will want to operate with you. You must rely on your instincts to know who is serious about finding a job, and who is playing the market from the other end. Good online talent usually keeps an ear to the ground and is interested in learning about high-paid and challenging jobs. Keep your integrity, show respect and get the word out about your best jobs.
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