Target Suddenly Available Talent During This Business Disruption

Aggressive Recruiting – a weekly column by Dr. John Sullivan

Let me be clear, I am advocating the aggressive recruiting of workers displaced during the current business turmoil. Now, of course, there’s no denying that through no fault of their own, a large number of people are currently having their work and family lives disrupted. Recruiters should realize that they have a unique opportunity to help out. They can offer top talent a better career opportunity.

Yes, the best and most aggressive recruiters have already realized that this current and continuing disruption provides a unique opportunity to recruit, not normally available, top talent away from top companies. Now, timid corporate recruiters and Internet haters will rile against even the discussion of this topic; but they continually fail to understand that a recruiter’s primary responsibility is:

To provide their company’s teams with the very best coworkers that they can afford by proactively placing the best career opportunities directly in front of interested top talent.

Poaching is always okay, even during normal times, because employees are not owned by a company. And in this case, if the target recruits are receiving unemployment benefits, they are no longer even technically labeled as employees.

Offer A Better Opportunity Than Their Current Company Chose To Offer 

In my view, you can’t blame recruiters for trying to entice quality targets for considering a better career opportunity that is presented to them. You can and you should, however, blame their current management because they:

  • Didn’t continue paying employees even when there was no work
  • Didn’t offer them paid sick leave so employees could recuperate after a serious illness
  • Didn’t offer them sufficient health insurance to ease their financial burden and stress
  • Didn’t offer enough remote work opportunities so employees could continue during social distancing
  • Didn’t build up enough cash reserves or alternative income sources to provide employees with more job security

The First Step Involves Getting Hiring Managers Interested In This Talent Pool 

Recruiters need to educate their hiring managers so that they realize that most laid off or furloughed workers were not let go based on poor work performance. They need to make managers aware that data shows that many skills like customer service, production, and delivery that are prominent in one industry can be easily transferred across industries. Taken together, this information will make this suddenly available talent pool look more attractive.

A High Degree Of Economic Uncertainty Makes This Talent Pool Easy To Identify 

This suddenly available talent pool was unlikely to contain many active job seekers even a month ago. The shock of this completely unexpected job insecurity and an uncertain economic outlook over the long-term make members of this talent pool easy to find. 

Start by asking each of your best employees to make a handful of referrals from top places where they used to work. Next, utilize a LinkedIn search to identify those that have recently worked at companies significantly impacted by the downturn. Also, look at those that have recently changed their “interested in new opportunities” status. And finally, place job postings on niche job boards that announce that you are proactively seeking top talent from other impacted industries. You can find even more talent poaching tips here.

Final Thoughts 

Aggressive recruiters already know that during these bleak times, at least from an employee’s standpoint, they are not raiders but instead opportunity providers. As a hiring manager, if you are concerned about the appearance of coercion simply offer options. For example, a “no-fault return policy” for new hires that offers a short-term contract and an automatic conversion to “permanent” status if they decide not to return to their former employer within 60 or 90 days. 

One final note for hiring managers on a related topic. You can also expect this economic downturn to increase the retention rates of your current average-performing employees by as much as 20% as they now begin to prioritize increased job security.     

Authors note – if you want to receive Dr. Sullivan’s Aggressive Recruiting articles each week, sign up for his newsletter on or by following him on LinkedIn.

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.

Check Also

Peer Interviews – A Powerful “Must Try” Hiring Tool (For improving your assessment and candidate selling results overnight)

It’s the most powerful hiring tool because of its double impact on candidate assessment and …