Is your team being headhunted?
For many managers, just the word “headhunting” is enough to cause anxiety. With images of their best people being drawn away to another company — perhaps even a competitor — most managers view the concept of headhunting as something to be approached with suspicion, unless of course the headhunting is happening on their behalf.
When you find out that one or more of your employees are being recruited by a headhunter, it’s understandable that your initial response might be one of concern or even fear. You don’t want to lose your most talented staff, and it’s likely that your initial feelings of anxiety might even be replaced with anger. How dare someone come in and try to poach your employees! Regardless of whether an employee decides to make a move or not, just the simple fact that others want the person you have is bound to spur feelings of defensiveness.
But what if you looked at headhunting a different way? What if, instead of feeling indignant and offended that a recruiter has set his or her sights on your staff, you viewed it with a sense of pride?
The truth is, if headhunters are going after your staff, it’s a sign that you have great people. Your focus shouldn’t be on keeping headhunters away, but on keeping your staff from jumping ship in the face of another offer. Headhunting rarely happens by accident, so if other companies aren’t looking at your employees, you might want to examine how you can strengthen your team.
What Makes Headhunters Come Calling
Before you can think about keeping your best employees on staff, it’s useful to understand what draws the attention of recruiters and gets them to pick up the phone. It’s not only about your employees being excellent at what they do (although that’s undoubtedly the most important factor) but their reputation and visibility within the field. What that specifically translates to includes:
- High-level skills. This is often the most important factor. When your employees hold high-level IT certifications, advanced degrees, and are well-known for their top-notch skills, it’s only natural that they will be in demand.
- A strong network. Headhunters often call based on recommendations from others. When your employees have wide-ranging networks, built via mentorships, memberships in industry organizations, and attendance at industry events, it’s more likely that they will catch the attention of recruiters and others.
- Contributions to the industry. Your employees’ work history and contributions to your company are obviously attractive, but headhunters are also looking at contributions outside of your company. Do your employees present at conferences or maintain a strong online presence? Are they considered thought leaders in the field? The more visible your employees’ contributions, the more likely they are to attract attention.