It’s “The Right Time” To Raid Texas… For Its Tech And Diversity Talent

“Right time recruiting” targets states at a time when they are struggling. 

This Article Advocates The Use Of The “Right Time Recruiting Strategy”

If you’re not familiar with this powerful but often underutilized strategy. “Right Time Recruiting” suggests that you identify the specific windows (i.e., time periods on a calendar) when the odds of successfully landing your most desirable recruiting targets are the absolute highest. This approach works exceptionally well because it purposely focuses on recruiting during the times when the recruiting competition is low and whenever candidates are most open to new opportunities.

Why “It’s The Right Time” To Target Texas

Since I am recommending that your recruiters raid Texas. Let’s start with an example covering a Texas employee that would likely now be increasingly uneasy with her life there. Start by assuming that this potential recruit that you’re targeting is a young college-educated, female Hispanic tech engineer working in Austin, Texas. She only recently has begun to realize that she now lives in a state that is becoming increasingly politically active. As a woman and a Hispanic, she would likely already be alarmed on an almost monthly basis by the “wrong direction” of recent Texas health laws, quality of life issues, and cultural trends. Given her deeply ingrained values, her interest in taking a job out of state would hinge on both the direction and the speed of change in most of her areas of concern. They would likely include:

ImmigrationContracted votingWomen’s health choices
Transgender rightsOpen carryTeaching diversity (critical race theory)
Antiscience trendsClimate changeCOVID 19 protections
Environmental protectionsLow electric grid / infrastructure spend (the snowpocalypse)

Many of the issues listed above are particularly relevant to women and diverse individuals. In most cases, it will be easier to recruit this highly desirable talent to a job in another state that is more closely aligned with their views. And after nearly 18 months of being confronted with the constant pressure of “wrong direction movement” (i.e., ideas on the wrong side of history). How long will it be before this diverse woman would be open to employment opportunities outside of Texas?

Some Call It Poaching, But That Name Is Completely Inaccurate

Some call this raiding of the state approach “poaching” but that is not the appropriate word. Because what you are attempting to recruit cannot be “owned” by any company or state. And you will be violating no rules or laws when you’re poaching. There are simply none that restrict an employee’s freedom of movement. 

If you just do one thing© program your ATS and alert your recruiters to be on the lookout for resumes from experienced employed talent that are currently working in targeted troubled states. 

And Now Here Are The Two Foundation Arguments… That Best Support The Value Added By “Right Time Recruiting” In A State

Of all of the arguments that support targeted recruitment raiding, two simply stand out as the most powerful.

  1. Out-of-state poaching expands worker job choices after physical disasters – to the uninformed, it might seem unfair or even unethical to raid a company or a state for its surplus talent precisely when their luck is down. For example, I received criticism when I urged out-of-state employers to recruit local talent immediately after Katrina in 2005. My poaching suggestion wasn’t an evil corporate action. The hurricane’s physical damage was so extensive that literally 230,000 jobs evaporated almost immediately. So with almost all local job opportunities suddenly gone, poaching by out-of-state companies became a blessing to workers. It meant that Louisiana employees willing to relocate at least temporarily now had at least one viable immediate work option. Where previously, their only option was long months of unemployment. 
  1. Right time targeting a state also expands the job choices for employees with their values challenged – it’s no secret that many employees choose the state they will work in because of its political, quality of life, and cultural factors as well as its level of political activism. So when a current employee suddenly realizes that the political and cultural direction and the rate of change in their current state are evolving rapidly. And unfortunately, moving in a direction that does not match what this employee’s values are. It is positive when an out-of-state company can offer the disgruntled employee a job in a state where the value proposition is much closer to the ideal one for the new recruit.

Additional Arguments That Support “Right Time Recruiting”

In addition to these foundation arguments, it makes sense to be fully prepared with effective counterarguments for every additional “don’t poach” argument that you will likely hear.

  • Poaching is not stealing because you can’t steal what is not owned – calling this practice poaching is extremely inaccurate. After all, the term poaching infers that the company or the state owns the targeted employees. This can’t be true because owning employees would be slavery. Employees (that are not under a signed employment contract) have no long-term obligation to stay at a company. And in most states, employees are free to leave at any time for any reason and without notice. And corporations are generally forbidden from taking restrictive actions that would limit the free movement of employees between companies (i.e., anti-poach agreements). 
  • “Poaching” or raiding is a common business practice – some argue that targeted recruiting is unethical. However, in the business world, poaching and raiding are indeed quite common. It isn’t considered “stealing” when other companies continuously strive to “poach away another firm’s customers in sales.” Because customers, just like employees, are not owned. And of course, it’s also not uncommon for companies to openly target the top talent of another company. To learn about the competitor’s best practices or increase the company’s technical capability in an important area. For example, Cisco is now actively and openly targeting the top talent at Microsoft. 
  • It’s a recruiter’s job to provide their coworkers with the best talent – because a recruiter’s primary job is to provide their colleagues with the best performing teammates. A recruiter owes nothing to a competitor company or any state. Rather than feeling bad, they should feel fulfilled because they are at the same time offering expanded and exciting opportunities to the talented people that they target.
  • All recruiters should constantly seek advantages for their company – recruiting is a zero-sum competition, where a single firm wins and gets the top talent. Of course, some will argue that poaching is hitting the competition “when their luck is down.” Rather than being a concern, hitting them where they are the weakest should instead be a principle that all recruiters live by in our highly competitive marketplace. Great business people and even mediocre recruiters are constantly trying to increase their winning percentage. And your job as a recruiter is not to be sympathetic toward the firms that you target. But instead to seek out every weakness and then take advantage of each one. This approach gives your organization a competitive talent advantage while at the same time giving your targeted candidates increased career choices. 
  • Any arguments about a violation of ethics are likely to be nothing but personal or political opinions – in almost all cases, there are laws and company policies that cover all of the appropriate behaviors in business. So you can expect that any ethical objection to employee poaching is just a personal opinion that an individual manager holds. It’s a stretch even to think that offering unhappy employees expanded career choices and opportunities to work in an environment that better matches their values is in any way unethical. 
  • Discouraging poaching will actually weaken your company – it’s important to realize that even if you could actively limit the external career options for your best employees, that approach could inadvertently weaken your managers. If a manager doesn’t have to fight with other firms to keep their top talent constantly. Your managers, over time, would likely get lazy and become weak managers.
  • The real reasons why management rallies against poaching are that there are three underlying reasons why managers and HR resist taking part in “right time” employee poaching. First, they are afraid that they haven’t made the necessary preparations to handle any retaliation or counter raiding, which is likely to occur after they have attempted to poach talent away from other firms actively. Second, they resist because their company hasn’t adequately prepared a backup. So they will be in a bind if the recruited employee leaves. And third, if only a small percentage of your company’s target recruits accept your offers. Executives may look at this failure as an indication their recruiting function has now been demonstrated as weak and only capable of recruiting the unemployed, the easiest candidates to land. 

After Texas, Here Are More Right Time Geographies That You Should Consider Targeting 

This right time recruiting approach should be applied to every state where natural disasters and/or the state’s economic, political, and quality of life factors are troubling. To the point where a significant percentage of a state’s professional employees are willing to listen to out-of-state employment options. So, in addition to Texas, right now, a list covering the additional “right time states” would likely include: 

  • California – with no rain, fires, smoke everywhere, extremely liberal politics, an ever-increasing cost of living, and many companies offering remote work options. You should join the thousands of recruiters (ironically, many from Texas) already targeting a percentage of Californians disgruntled with its current problems and direction. Like Texas and Florida, the total number of employees in California makes it an ideal recruiting target.
  • Louisiana – despite its great culture, music, and food. Its constant weather disasters, coupled with often painfully weak infrastructure investment, make the state an ideal recruiting target.
  • Florida – a large population, makes the state an ideal recruiting target, especially because the state has experienced numerous recent problems. Including frequent hurricanes, tornadoes, periodic COVID-19 spikes, masks in school issues, and increasingly conservative politics. All of these combined at the same time make Florida a “right time” to target the state.
  • Pennsylvania and New York – both of these states are currently suffering from once-in-a-lifetime record floods. That got out of hand in part because of the lack of adequate infrastructure. The thought of these floods reoccurring is causing some to look for another state to work.
  • Oregon – much like California. Oregonians are suffering from no rain, fires, smoke everywhere, extremely liberal politics, and an ever-increasing cost of living. Oregon is also currently suffering from a severe COVID-19 spike. Those employees in the Portland area with a conservative-leaning may be the easiest to recruit to another state.
  • Puerto Rico and Afghanistan – in addition to individual states. Some territories and countries should also be considered as “right day” recruiting areas because they have experienced recent dramatic changes in their political climate, economy, health, or weather. Recruiting employees living in foreign geographies is now easier because so many jobs can be done remotely. The many Afghan refugees resettled in the US should be ideal recruiting targets because they already have visas. Also, because Puerto Ricans are US citizens, they do not need a visa to work here. 

“Right Time Recruiting” Has Variations That Work In Many Other Situations

Rather than immediately filling an open job when the requisition is approved, delay your hiring until the competition for talent in this job is extremely low. And in the interim, you use fill-in or contract labor until the next “Right Time Recruiting Window” comes around. Seven typical categories are covering the “right or the best times” to recruit.

  1. Target a region when it is struggling – today, I am advocating the raiding of Texas. But you should use this “right time recruiting strategy” whenever a city, state, or country known for its talent is currently going through significant turmoil (usually weather, economic, crime, political issues, or quality-of-life issues). Taken together, these issues can cause employees to begin considering a job in another state. Currently, it makes the most sense to target New Orleans, the states of Texas and California, and the countries of England (Brexit) and Afghanistan.
  2. Target a struggling company/industry – whenever a company known for its talent is currently going through painful turmoil, they should be targeted. This company turmoil can include employer brand damaging issues in finance, ethics, and/or in legal and regulatory areas. This turmoil might also include a stock crash, a product failure, a significant business downturn, or the loss of a significant company executive (an ideal company to target has been Volkswagen in Tennessee because it cheated on its emissions data). In some cases, when an entire industry suffers from a downturn (the airline industry). It makes sense to target your recruiting on each of the major firms in that struggling industry.
  3. Recruit when a top talent competitor is out – it makes sense to recruit actively when one of your top talent competitor companies is not actively recruiting. Usually, they stop recruiting because of headcount issues, a hiring freeze, or when their recruiters typically take time off (i.e., Google doesn’t recruit in late August and December).
  4. Recruit when the overall competition is low – when the overall competition (the ratio of job seekers to open jobs) in the local talent market is low (i.e., when the unemployment rate is extremely low or during December when few firms are actively recruiting). It makes sense to recruit actively. 
  5. Recruit during time periods when specific functions look for a new job – most people leave their job around their anniversary date. However, most teachers look for a job in November during the spring and mall Santa Claus’s look. However, data from Entelo reveals that in sales (often the most important job family), up to 50% of sales professionals begin looking for a job in December and early January. The turnover during this time period is higher because year-end bonuses have just been paid out, and new year sales quotas are about to begin. 
  6. Recruit a “most wanted” individual who has suddenly become disgruntled – the best recruiters routinely “map” each of the superstars working at their major competitors. A “Right Time recruiting window” opens up whenever recruiting finds that a superstar recruiting target working in another company has suddenly become unhappy. Usually, this sudden unhappiness is because their new idea was rejected, their primary project ended, or a close colleague left. So it makes sense to institute a targeted “right time” recruiting effort to quickly lure them away while they are still frustrated or unhappy.
  7. Use counter business cycle recruiting to stock up on talent when it is the cheapest and most available – most corporations hire when the economy is strong and their firm is growing. However, a few firms (e.g., Chevron and Slide) have utilized “counter business cycle right time recruiting” in the past. This is where a forward-looking company purposely recruits during slack or negative economic times. When the talent is abundant, and it is not the slightest bit picky. Few companies are recruiting, and many are threatening to lay off or close their offices. 

Finally, A Few Implementation Tips For “Right Time” Recruiting

I’ve previously written in extensive detail on how to effectively poach talent away from your competitors and poach diverse talent. Here are a few key implementation tips that may help you get started.

  • Your primary recruiting target should be employed experienced top talent – you should start by targeting employed talent in the state. In many (but not all) cases, the best employees are kept on as employees until the very end. I also recommend that you target only experienced top talent in a state. The high cost of new hire relocation can’t usually be justified with less experienced talent.
  • Identify top talent through referrals – it’s important to realize that the best way to find talent at a firm in a targeted state is to ask for referrals from your current employees working in the industry for a while. But also ask new hires during onboarding that recently worked at a target firm or in your targeted state to provide you with names.
  • Also, use LinkedIn to identify talent in the target state – use LinkedIn to identify anyone working in a targeted state. Also, utilize all relevant social media groups exclusive to a state to identify potential recruiting targets.
  • Superior recruiters are required –  “executive search type” recruiters who know how to successfully approach and sell candidates with multiple job choices successfully approach and sell candidates with multiple job choices. Unfortunately, many current recruiters won’t have the sales skills necessary to convince someone to leave their current state.
  • A pipeline approach is best – employed talent might require a trust relationship with your firm before they even consider becoming a candidate. So the best recruiting approach is a “pipeline approach,” which allows you to identify employed talent well before you need them for a job opening. This stretched-out recruiting process also provides you with more time to fully assess and sell the most difficult to land candidates. 

Final Thoughts

With the multitude of weather, COVID 19, remote work, and political upheaval almost everyone has experienced over the last 18 months. It’s only logical that many current employees have begun questioning all aspects of their careers. Including how their values “match” the state in which they currently live and work. So in my view, to gain a competitive advantage now is the opportune time for smart recruiting leaders to take advantage of this widespread uneasiness. Offer the best employees working in these troubled “right time” states an opportunity to move to a state where they and their families would be both more productive and more comfortable!

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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