Hiring alternatives to poaching: Creative ways hiring managers are finding talent

Every industry has its own way of finding talent – but one of the most challenging industries right now is within the information-technology field. IT staffing is like a game of hide-and-seek, experts say. You truly need to know where to look.

It is a classic supply-and-demand scenario, said Rob MacLane, president of 3Ci, a recruiting and staffing firm in Atlanta. 3Ci’s core business is finding the right person for the right job, so that means having a few tricks of the trade to track down great candidates.

“Everybody’s struggling to find the right talent,” MacLane said. “There’s 2 percent unemployment for IT in Georgia. For software developers, it’s zero unemployment. … Supply is down, demand is up. It is difficult to attract the talent and difficult to pay people when they know they can get higher compensation from someone else down the street!”

But what should a company do if they don’t want to be known for poaching or stealing away hires from another company? You need to be creative, to find ways to bring candidates to you and to look between the lines – especially on websites, social media and job boards, MacLane recommends.

Rob MacLane

The bottom line is finding good workers is a universal issue, and everyone needs to look for ways to attract talent, MacLane said. How you go about that says a lot about your company’s culture, attitude and ability to succeed, he noted.

Here are some of his tips and tricks to find great candidates for any job:

  1. Use job boards, but sparingly. “Most recruiters are fishing in the same pond,” MacLane said. “While many recruiters years back and even in recent years use job boards, a lot of times the candidates you’re going to find there are not going to be the right candidates for you. If they’re unemployed and struggling to find a job (in this low unemployment economy), they might not be the right fit.”
  2. Invest in technology. 3Ci uses AI and machine-learning tools to search the internet, LinkedIn and other sites to find job candidates. This is a whole new way to use data to find good workers who may be seeking new opportunities, MacLane said.
  3. Create networking opportunities. Host events at your office or a location where you are the main organizer. 3Ci, for example, has a large training and meeting space that can handle about 100 people. The company hosts meetups and other events there so candidates can meet one another and as well as 3Ci.
  4. Host events. Have that meeting space? Bring in subject matter experts and host panel discussions. This will bring people in your field into your office where you can get to know them. They’ll also gain valuable skills, which will make them more marketable for their own personal and professional reasons. Win-win, MacLane said.
  5. Get involved. Get your executives and employees involved in mentoring and volunteering. That will put you in the community, which is great for connecting with the city and causes you love, but also allow you to meet new people and potentially find job candidates.
  6. Talk to people – in person. There are a huge number of communication tools available through the web or smartphone. Use them, of course. But don’t forget the importance of looking people in the eye and shaking hands in person, MacLane said. “We’re in the people business. So we need to treat people the way we’d like to be treated – like human beings,” he said.
  7. Keep an eye on company news. If you’re looking to hire, note significant changes at the firms that have employees you’d like to employ. Big shifts in management or ownership may have workers scrambling for other positions. If they are looking to jump, you might be in a good position to give them a place to land, MacLane said.
  8. Don’t be just another phone call. Find some way to stand out in your pitch to potential hires. If they are talented, they’re likely getting a ton of requests for meetings or information. Look for ways that your culture, your leadership or the like are different and highlight that, MacLane said.
  9. Find recruiters you can trust. Recruiters often have access to businesses and people that everyone else doesn’t or know about jobs before the rest of the community. Recruiters are a valuable asset to anyone who is looking for a job or even thinking about making a switch, MacLane said. “It should be more than a five-minute conversation – look for recruiters that invest in you,” he said.
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Karen Dybis
Karen is an editor and writer for Corp! Magazine. She graduated from the University of Michigan and has worked at The Mackinac Island Town Crier, The Kalamazoo Gazette, The (Adrian) Daily Telegram and The Oakland Press. Karen was a Detroit News business writer with stints in retail, workplace issues and personal finance. Dybis also was a blogger on Time magazine's "Assignment: Detroit" project. She is author of four Michigan history books, including "Secret Detroit" and "The Witch of Delray."