Alert For An Exceptional Talent Opportunity… Target Elite Firms That Are Currently Undergoing Layoffs (Job security is becoming a major attraction factor, so why not poach at Twitter?)

Targeting struggling firms allows you to hire exceptional talent that now seeks greater job security. Yes, during a time when talent opportunities have been quite rare, there is suddenly a recruiting opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. This opportunity now exists because a significant number of elite but temporarily struggling firms, including Google, Tesla, Microsoft, Coinbase, Netflix, Starbucks, and Warner Bros., have begun layoffs, instituted hiring freezes, or are continuing to experience record turnover. This means that in the immediate future, there will be a flood of exceptional talent available from these elite companies.

Job Security Is Becoming A Primary Attraction Factor 

Recruiting leaders and hiring managers must realize that due to these ever-widening talent management cutbacks. Many of the employees at these elite firms are, for the first time, worried about their job security. And in addition, some of their employees are beginning to feel that the long tech boom is finally over. So if you recruit for a smaller company that is either stable or growing and after a year of a painful shortage of available talent, this sudden recruiting opportunity simply can’t be missed. To verify the growing importance of job security, you should already be periodically surveying your top candidates. To get them to list and rank their “job attraction factors.” Because if you have already done that, you would already know about the increasing importance of job security.

Top 10 Reasons To Immediately Recruit Talent From Struggling Elite Firms 

If your organization is one of the many that are still facing a severe shortage of talent. Here is an opportunity to recruit not just talent, but truly exceptional talent. So if you’re a bold recruiter, here are the top 10 reasons why you take advantage of this rare opportunity and act immediately.

  • Act now and take advantage of this rare opportunity to recruit top talent that have rarely been active job seekers – start by realizing that the elite companies that you are targeting have a history of exceptional growth because of their powerful employer brand images. And as a result, the potential candidate pool that you will be targeting will contain exceptional talent that have seldom been active in the job market. But now that the growth at their company has slowed, some of these talented employees will now be considering seeking a new job. Either because they have been laid off, or they fear they will be included in future layoffs. Some of these targets will now want to leave because their teams will become steadily weaker as a result of high turnover that can no longer be replaced because of current or pending hiring freezes. This sudden interest in increased job security will mean that companies of any size that offer a significant improvement in job security will have a real chance of landing them.
  • Hiring freezes mean a reduction in powerful recruiting competition – firms like Google, Meta, Salesforce, Uber, Walmart, and Amazon have each instituted either hiring slowdowns or total hiring freezes. And that will mean, at least for the short term. That smaller-sized firms won’t have to compete side-by-side with these recruiting machines that have continuously beaten you in the talent marketplace. And that lower level of recruiting competition will mean any firm offering higher security can experience higher success rates and better quality/performing new-hires.
  • Your recruiting targets will be highly qualified up-to-date candidates – because of their extremely powerful employer brand. The current or recent employees from these well-branded elite companies are likely to have higher performance levels and advanced capabilities and skills. And because these firms offer excellent training, the skill sets of those former employees are likely to be completely up-to-date (which is not often true among long-term unemployed jobseekers).
  • Some laid-off employees are already available and looking – some of these elite firms have already begun to lay off employees. So those laid-off former employees are already available and actively looking. So it will be easy for your recruiters to get their attention. 
  • Some on the layoff lists have yet to be released, so you have time – because many firms are spreading out the releasing of their surplus employees over the next 1–2 months. So your recruiters will have time to identify them and then begin your personal courting and selling effort on them.
  • A significant percentage of the remaining employees will be interested in jobs with more growth and job security – the remaining smart employees were not actually laid off. Will begin to realize that it may be time for them to leave also. Not just because they may be next in line for other forthcoming layoffs. But also because the company is now at the end of its rapid growth period. Unfortunately, these remaining employees will likely face significantly fewer opportunities for promotions. And for the first time, they will also face limited budget funds for exciting new technologies, innovations, and projects. And if you add these “suddenly unhappy” employees to the ranks of other employees that were already retention problems. A significant percentage of your target firm’s employees are likely to be open to a recruiting pitch that includes a higher probability of growth and job security.
  • Employees at most other elite firms will also soon begin to worry about job security – because the best employees routinely keep up with the business news. Those employees working at every other elite firm will already be fully aware of the increasing occurrence of layoffs and hiring freezes at these other elite firms. And even though nothing similar has yet happened at their current elite firm. Their concern for a possible recession or future layoffs. It will likely cause the best employees at every elite firm to at least consider entering job search mode to gain increased job security. So you shouldn’t limit your recruiting only to the elite firms that have already announced talent reductions.
  • You will have an established recruiting process for future similar situations – as economic conditions continue to be mixed for the remainder of the year. More inevitable layoffs will surely be announced by other companies throughout this year (and next year if there is an official recession). Fortunately, once you develop an effective “layoff-based” recruiting process. You will be able to continue using that process for a good while. 
  • You will increase your recruiting chances if you offer flexible work and remote work opportunities – if you offer flexible work arrangements and remote work opportunities like these elite firms already do. You will improve your company’s chances of landing exceptional talent from these top firms even further. If your open jobs allow for global remote work, the talent pool from these elite firms will grow even larger.

    One study found that 68% of corporate employees would work for a smaller startup if they had the opportunity (
  • You must convince doubters that smaller firms actually have many recruiting advantages – when you are targeting the recruiting of employees from these powerhouse firms. You need to plan on serious resistance from some within your company. Who will mistakenly assume that you won’t be able to compete with these elite firms successfully. However, assuming that a smaller firm is at a disadvantage would be a huge mistaken assumption. Fortunately, smaller firms have many recruiting advantages. A list of them follows immediately below. 

A list of the recruiting advantages that smaller firms can have

  1. You will see your impact – if you work for a purpose at a smaller firm, you will easily be able to see and experience the impact of your work almost immediately. 
  2. Build it, don’t fix it – you will have a chance to “create something brand new.” As opposed to working at a big firm, where you will likely be assigned to “fix” already existing features and processes.
  3. More involvement and influence – you can experience a constant adrenaline rush because you will play a major role in every problem, decision, and opportunity. 
  4. You will work with and know senior leadership – you will likely see and work with senior leaders almost every day. And they will know your name and your work.
  5. You will know more about the product and your customers – no matter what job you have at a smaller firm. You won’t be far from the product and the customers.
  6. Improved access and knowing why – not only will you have continuous access to decision-makers and executives. But if they reject your ideas, you will have the opportunity to find out exactly “why.”
  7. Rapid approvals – with little bureaucracy, you will have rapid approval or rejection of your ideas. And in many cases, you will be able to make your own decisions without many approvals.
  8. You might finally fit – because you will likely know almost everyone at the company. And because everyone knows you, they are more likely to be flexible when you need help or more work/life balance. And in addition, your entire department will literally depend on you.
  9. Broader responsibilities – with the lien staffing levels at small firms. You will likely have broad job responsibilities, cross-functional opportunities, and there will be no restrictive fixed job descriptions. 
  10. Less politics and fewer rules – at a smaller firm. You will experience fewer constraints because there will be many fewer policies and rules. And in most cases, less corporate politics and interference by lawyers.
  11. Another version of a panache image – the employee had a panache image while working at a mega or elite firm. But others will also envy you when you work as a pioneer at a startup that is pushing the envelope. 
  12. There won’t be pressure to produce WOW results every day – you will likely experience less pressure as an employee. Because smaller firms that are not famous don’t receive as much publicity and constant oversight from analysts and shareholders.
  13. You will be forced to find your own answers – rather than being spoon-fed by internal experts. Having to search for yourself whenever you need an answer. It will have the added positive consequence of speeding up and expanding your personal learning.


Action Steps For Developing A “Layoff Focused” Recruiting Plan 

If you decide that now is an opportune time to take immediate action. Below are a few quick action steps and recruiting tips to consider. In addition, you can find many additional other recommended recruiting tips specifically for smaller businesses in this article.

  • Grow a pair because raiding elite companies is simply aggressive recruiting – for great recruiters, this period of talent cutbacks is an unusual recruiting opportunity that can’t be missed. However, you must start by realizing that you will certainly get some pushback from “the social workers” within HR. Because almost universally, those that lack business acumen will argue with this “layoff poaching approach.” You are acting unethically by taking advantage of another firm’s “misery” (you are). However, business is a competitive game where everyone routinely takes advantage of their competitor’s weaknesses. For example, firms “steal” a competitor’s customers all the time with no regrets. So why should poaching their employees be any different? (Because employees aren’t owned). The only illegal part of poaching is reaching an agreement with another firm not to poach each other’s talent. 
  • You must develop a data-driven recruiting strategy – don’t rely on your intuition or any past knowledge of past recruiting practices during layoffs. Instead, conduct candidate research and gather data on what specific tools work and which don’t. Your plan should also target elite companies that have not yet instituted layoffs. However, they did experience other major challenges, including a merger, the loss of their CEO, or a major stock price drop. And finally, your plan must be capable of allowing you to pivot rapidly. Whenever your data reveals that the recruiting landscape has shifted once again.
  • You will need a white glove candidate experience – because these targeted individuals from elite firms are highly sought after. And they will likely possess a bit of an ego. You may need to modify your recruiting process to fit their higher expectations. You can find all of the elements of the best white glove candidate treatment approach here
  • Periodically check for layoff announcements – the first implementation step is to assign a recruiter to continually monitor layoff and hiring freeze announcements. You can usually be found both on WARN sites run by individual states. And on free layoff tracking websites like this one
  • Highlight your growth and job security in the recruiting pitches – you must make potential applicants fully aware of your continuing growth and job security. So make sure you identify your firm’s strongest job security factors. And then quantify them and write them up. And before you release your selling point, ensure that you pretest them to ensure that they are compelling. 
  • Emphasize referrals covering those from your targeted companies – once again, the best sourcing and selling tool for top talent are employee referrals from your own top-performing employees. So begin by educating your employees about what you’re trying to do and the critical role that they play in it. Next, urge them to contact everyone that they know at the elite companies that you are targeting. In order to find out which of the potential targets might be seeking more secure opportunities at other firms. Even if your employees can’t successfully refer them, encourage your employees to give these names to your designated “layoff recruiter” for further follow-up. Also, ask your vendors, contractors, and employee family members if they know of anyone at these firms that you should be targeting.
  • Try to Boomerang former employees working at your target firms – you should use the second most powerful recruiting tool. Start by having your managers, employees, and recruiters put together a master list of your former employees working at one of your targeted elite firms. And then assign a recruiter to contact those on the list that you would like to boomerang rehire.
  • Search your ATS database for current and recent applicants from these firms – you should give high priority to current and recent employees from these elite firms that have recently applied to your firm. So periodically search your ATS for the names of applicants that currently or recently worked at any targeted firm. And especially be on the lookout for applicants who were “silver medalists” (candidates that came in second during one of your previous hiring decisions). Then proactively reach out to the most promising previous applicants.
  • Identify the best name generation sources like LinkedIn – use data to identify the best sources (like LinkedIn) for identifying the names of the recently laid off. And for that matter, any current employee at your target firms. And then encourage your recruiters to utilize the best sources 
  • Expedite your hiring – because these individuals from elite companies will be in high demand. Proactively cut out all of the delays in your hiring process that you will use for these candidates so the hiring decision can be made within 10 – 14 days. Also, consider assigning a recruiter to cover these prioritized candidates. Because then you will have one central person who can gather the knowledge on the best recruiting approaches for attracting and selling these targets.
If you can only do one thing – assign a recruiter to search your ATS system twice a week to identify new applicants from these elite firms. Next, have that recruiter prioritize the applications of what they determine to be the most promising candidates. And finally, develop results metrics to determine the most effective sourcing and selling approaches. So that you can continually improve your “layoff recruiting process.”

Final Thoughts

In today’s highly competitive recruiting environment, large volume recruiting opportunities for attracting high-quality talent are unfortunately quite rare. So it’s essential that you recognize the value of this current “layoff recruiting opportunity.” Because it is a real chance to provide your company with a competitive advantage. And at the same time, make a significant positive impact on your recruiting results. By doing little more than simply making it clear to all potential applicants from these targeted firms. Your company offers a real chance for continued growth, job security, and a much more personalized and employee-friendly work environment. 

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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