The Great Resignation Should Be Renamed – The Great Recruiting Opportunity

With 55% of employees open to a new job, you could describe this time as “The Great Recruiting Opportunity” of the 21st century. 

Yes, a majority of employees already acknowledge that it’s time for a job change within the next 12 months. Recruiting has become markedly easier because the hardest part of the process, “convincing them to leave,” has already been completed! This recruiting opportunity can be accurately labeled as great or exceptional. So many prized, “currently employed” individuals (desirable because their skills and training are up-to-date) will now respond when they are contacted, even by an unknown recruiter. This type of recruiting is classified as “right time recruiting.”

Right time recruiting” is any time where a normally reluctant top-performing employee will be significantly more likely to say “yes” to an opportunity to consider a new job.

Why This Is “The Great Recruiting Opportunity Of The 21st Century.” 

There are many reasons why this is truly an exceptional recruiting opportunity. The top six reasons are listed below.

  • The quality of your recruits will be higher – the turnover rate among high performers is normally just 3%. However, the high level of frustration related to Covid, the business downturn, and remote work. The turnover rate among top performers at some companies (like Facebook) may reach double-digits. More than tripling the number of employed high-performers interested in new opportunities. It’s also important for hiring managers to realize that capturing these normally difficult to recruit top performers will add advanced skills and best practices to the team.
  • Less recruiting skills will be required – once again, the hardest part (convincing) is already done, even with mediocre recruiters and hiring managers. You will successfully recruit a large number of currently employed prospects.
  • Your employed prospect response rate will be much higher – with so many employees (or those that have recently quit) open to new job opportunities. Cold calling employed prospects may actually work. And the direct sourcing of employed prospects (by even mediocre recruiters) that would have failed during normal times will now likely receive a high initial contact response rate.
  • Those that already use approaches designed for the “passive candidate” will have a competitive advantage – at many companies, literally, 90% of their sourcing approaches are designed to attract the active candidate (e.g., job board posting and career fairs). However, the percentage of the so-called “passive candidates” in today’s prospect pool may be doubled or tripled. Companies that already have and use passive candidate approaches (like direct sourcing, learning networks, and employee referrals) will have a competitive advantage. So they will be successful much faster.
  • Your time to fill will be much shorter – because the hardest part of the “direct sourcing” of employed prospects is convincing them that “it’s time to leave” has already been completed. You will be able to make hiring decisions faster. In addition, because most of your employed applicants have up-to-date skills. They will also require less time for screening and assessment. So your time to fill for employed prospects may be cut in half, which means that new hires will be able to start and get up to speed much faster.
  • The quality of the active job seeker will also be higher – although the primary target today is the frustrated employed individual. The other category of recruits will still be active job seekers. They may be less desirable because most active job seekers will normally have been laid off or unemployed for a significant period of time (making their skills rusty). However, with today’s record high “quit rate,” the current active job seeker pool will now include a larger percentage of higher quality candidates that recently voluntarily quit during the last few months. So, you should target both categories of recruits.

An Example Of A Great Current Recruiting Opportunity (Targeting Facebook) 

Rather than attempting to recruit at every firm proactively, each recruiting organization must develop a process for identifying the companies that it will proactively target first. In most cases, that means targeting “troubled firms.” To understand the factors that would make a large company “an ideal troubled recruiting target,” you need to look no further than Facebook/Meta. 

They are an ideal raiding target because of their recent turmoil in various strategic areas. For example, nothing makes top-performing employees want to jump ship faster than the recent record-breaking one-day 26% drop in their stock price. Because of its impact on employee stock options, it dramatically tears away a primary economic reason why employees stay. Also, their recent major product failure (Diem cryptocurrency) will cause many employees to second-guess the future of their company. And their company-wide shift in strategic focus towards Meta makes many question their future at Facebook. Additional troubling factors include their recent significant drop in users, monopolistic market position, and failure to remove sensitive content. Together, these multiple turmoil factors are already driving many of their previously fiercely loyal and well-qualified employees to reconsider their future with the company. For the first time, the average organization successfully recruiting away recently disgruntled Facebook employees may literally be the recruiting opportunity of the decade!

A Quick Checklist Of The Factors That Identify Which Companies That Are Ripe For Targeting

Rather than a shotgun approach, it makes sense to target large, troubled companies initially. Troubled companies should be targeted first because of their recent turmoil and uncertainty. These troubled firms will suddenly have an above-average percentage of employees interested in leaving for a better opportunity. I suggest you look for any of the following 15 “canary in the mine” frustration indicators that will tell you which firms to target first. 

  • Use LinkedIn profile data to identify firms with turnover issues – with the appropriate recruiter license. Anyone can identify which companies are losing talent and successfully hiring the most talent away from them.
  • Ask new hires to assess company turnover during onboarding, ask every new hire to reveal if they were aware of high turnover rates at their previous company. You should also ask new hires to identify individuals at their former company that might want to “follow them to your company.” During finalist candidate interviews, you can also ask the same turnover rate problem question.
  • Track where your applications are coming from – identify the companies where most of your employed job applicants have recently worked. You should also target companies that have provided you with high-quality recent hires. And then target those firms to increase that candidate flow even higher.
  • Track negative business events – review the work of financial analysts to identify companies and industries with major problems in each strategic business area. Include tracking standard company performance metrics, the failure of major projects/products, the loss of major customers, major stock drops, and the closing of major facilities. Also, look for companies that have recently lost major legal, international trade, or regulatory battles.
  • Identify business scandals – have your hiring managers and recruiters inform your recruiters about recent major public scandals (e.g., CNN, Volkswagen, Twitter, and Facebook). Also, target companies with major fire or weather catastrophes. And then actively target these companies for recruits. 
  • Look for turmoil in glassdoor and Indeed comments – encourage your recruiters to scan popular “employer comment” sites to identify whether reviewers indicate that they are experiencing high turnover.
  • Identify major executive departures – have recruiters and hiring managers identify companies where strategic executives and icons have recently departed (CNN, Amazon).
  • Target organizations with major Covid issues – employers that have not handled major Covid, safety, or health issues well should also be targeted (e.g., school and healthcare employees).
  • Target companies that are encouraging early employee departures – identify and then target organizations that are offering wide-scale early-retirement or voluntary buyouts. Also, target companies with major facility closings and layoffs.
  • Automatically target your product competitors – even if these firms aren’t experiencing major turmoil. Target your competitors because when you recruit top talent directly from them. Your capabilities increase, while simultaneously their capabilities go down proportionately.
  • Track job postings – have your recruiters identify companies under a hiring or salary freeze or that have recently dramatically reduced their job postings. All of these actions limit internal promotions, which further frustrates top performers.
  • Reports of low diversity – specifically target companies that have publicly reported low diversity results. And then specifically target the diverse employees at these organizations.
  • Focus on the recruiting tools that focus on the employed – because most of your recruiting targets will now be fully employed individuals. You will need to concentrate your sourcing and recruiting using tools with the highest success rate with the so-called “passive candidates.” Those passive tools normally include direct sourcing, employee referrals, LinkedIn profile searches, Boomerang rehires, and learning communities. As part of your employee referral program, add a small reward for employees who merely provide the names of top employed individuals who are now disgruntled and open to new opportunities.
  • Timing is also important – specifically, time recruiting at troubled companies to coincide with large bonus payouts, significant budget cuts, or the layoff of seasonal workers. It also makes sense to target your recruiting on the frustrated individuals in high-impact jobs.
  • Remember to fix your retention program – realize that some of the pressures that will force exceptional talent out at other firms may also be present at your firm. So, fix your employee retention process. Start by making the process data-driven and personalized. And then use “stay interviews” to identify “the sticky factors” that cause an employee to stay. 

If you can only do one thing© – during this Great Recruiting Opportunity when so many employed individuals are open to new opportunities. It’s essential that you quickly scan your ATS database to identify talent from each of the top companies you couldn’t successfully recruit in the past. And because you already know that they have some degree of interest in your company. Have a recruiter, a hiring manager, or a top employee immediately reach out to them to gauge their current level of interest. 

Grow a pair – raiding companies that are in trouble is simply good business

This is a historic recruiting opportunity for great recruiting leaders that can’t be missed. However, before you act, you should realize that you will certainly get some pushback from “the social workers” in HR. Those that lack business acumen may argue that you are taking advantage of another firm’s “misery” during a time when the firm is vulnerable (which you are). But business is a competitive game where executives routinely take advantage of your competitor’s weaknesses. Firms “steal” a competitor’s customers all the time with no regrets, so why should “poaching” employees be any different? You can bet that the technologists at other tech firms are already jumping on the opportunity to talk down Facebook as an employer.

Also, be prepared for those pseudo lawyers (without law degrees) in HR who erroneously argue that you violate some fairytale ethical or legal code against employee poaching. Instead, you should be aware that the courts have recently ruled that it is illegal to refuse to poach. Anti-poaching agreements and the lowered competition they create illegally lower employee salaries and career opportunities. Some might also fear that your target companies will “retaliate” and raid you back, but realistically there is no chance of that because, for months, they will be scaling back and probably laying off people, not recruiting new ones. In my view, you owe it to your shareholders and coworkers to recruit the very best. And since employees are not “owned” by a company, your job as a recruiting leader is to provide your employees with the very best coworkers. Incidentally, you better recruit quickly before the recruiting competition intensifies and before companies like Facebook offer retention bonuses to make it harder to recruit away their very best.

Final Thoughts

Every smart recruiting leader already knows that you need to periodically adjust or flex your recruiting strategy to meet both the current job marketplace and current candidate expectations. So during this rare recruiting opportunity, when a large percentage of employed individuals are open to new opportunities. Your strategy must shift to using tools like direct sourcing to reach out to these currently employed individuals proactively. 

And if you need additional tips on how to poach individual talent, I’ve written extensively on the topic (how to poach suddenly available talent). So I wish you “good fishing,” but remember… to fish on the “right day” when most of the talent is biting. And before the other recruiters also realize that they should be targeting frustrated top talent at struggling firms.

Author’s Note 

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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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