How To Poach Talent (In A Nice Way)

To get the best team members, sometimes you have to do some poaching
To get the best team members, sometimes you have to do some poaching
Image Credit: Michael Newman

As an IT manager, one of your required IT manager skills is to build the best team possible. Often times you’ll discover the perfect person to add to your team. However, that person already has a job. Perhaps they already have a really good job. If you are going to want to have any hope of convincing them to leave where they are at and come join your team, then you’re going to have to master the art of poaching.

Why Is Poaching Even Necessary?

The world of IT is a bit strange. In order to accomplish all of the things that we need to do, a lot of very specialized skills are required. What makes things even more challenging is that the skills that are needed keep changing. Today the skills that we need on our team include knowledge of virtualization, security, big data, etc. In six months the list will probably be different.

When we have an opening on our team and we go looking to fill it, we quickly run into a problem that we don’t have any IT manager training to solve. There simply are not that many people out there who have the set of skills that we need. Not only are we often looking for workers with the right set of skills, but we’d also like to get workers who have experience using these skills – kids right out of university may have the knowledge, but not know how to use it.

Where this all leads us to is the idea of poaching talent from other firms. If the other firm has already vetted a candidate and gone ahead and hired them, they they must have what it takes to do the job, right? It’s almost like they’ve done our work for us. Now all we need to do is to come up with some way to lure them from the comfortable and secure job that they have now over to work on our team.

What Will Make Someone Join Your Team?

Let’s face it, in IT most of our jobs look very similar. As an IT manager who has discovered an IT employee at another firm that you’d like to poach to come work on your team, you’re going to have to do some work. You need to create a compelling reason for them to want to make a change.

A lot of aspects of the job that you are hiring for may be out of your control: the salary, the title, etc. However, you do have a great deal of control over what may the most important feature of the job: the equity that comes with it. No, I’m not talking about stock options, I’m talking about something much more important to the candidate.

What I’m talking about is having you provide the candidate that you are trying to poach with an opportunity to build something from the ground up. What we all want to do is to leave our mark on a project or on a company. We want to make it better than when we found it and we’d like everyone to know that we are the ones who make it better. If you can carve out a part of an IT project for this person to “own” and to work on, then you will have found a way to create an attractive lure that just might make you a successful poacher.

What All Of This Means For You

Staffing your IT team with the right people is a critical part of being an IT manager. When you discover someone whom you believe is the perfect fit for your team, it’s going to be your responsibility to convince them to join in order to complete your IT team building. Even if they already have a great job. Welcome to the world of poaching.

There are only so many skilled and talented IT workers out there. It may be because they have specific technical skills or because they have experience doing something that you will soon be doing, but there are some people who are just “must haves”. In order to convince these people to join your team, you are going to have to provide them with an opportunity to build something from the ground up. Everyone wants to leave their mark.

Our ability to poach talent from other firms is not necessarily something that we choose to go around bragging about. However, it is a critical skill for us to have. Take some time and get good at poaching and you’ll find that you are in charge of an IT team with all of the right people on it.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there could ever be a situation where you should not poach talent?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When the unemployment numbers dip down, it can become a lot harder for an IT manager use his or her IT manager skills to find the right people to staff his or her team with. The pool of candidates is just a lot smaller – and there are a lot of other companies that they can go to work for. What you are going to need is find a way to make your company appear to be different from all of those other companies. It turns out that charity work just might be the right answer.