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In the world of recruiting, the term “poaching” is used to describe active recruitment of an already-employed individual.  Many times, they will be employed by a competitor or company in a similar industry because they already possess the know-how you are seeking.  There are some who frown upon this practice.

Even the term itself evokes negative emotions and suggests engaging in undesirable behavior.  It’s no wonder many question whether or not this recruiting practice is ethical or even legal.

There is nothing unethical about contacting a potential candidate whose knowledge, skills and abilities may be a great fit for a position you are trying to fill.  Reaching out to passive candidates who are currently employed is a common practice that typically yields good results.   In today’s climate of talent scarcity, most recruiters regularly source passive candidates as part of their strategy.  The passive candidate may or may not respond but they have every right at the opportunity.

Ethical issues in passive recruiting have to do more with how the process is conducted.  Contacting another company’s employees at their office or work email is a poor practice.  Would you want one of your employees speaking to a prospective employer while you are paying them?   Sending a LinkedIn message or personal email is more appropriate and gives the candidate the opportunity to reply on their own time.

Successfully poaching a great candidate can be very satisfying.  It’s usually the company losing the employee that feels the sting.  You can safeguard your company to a certain extent against poaching by implementing people strategies that retain top talent.  Creating a strong culture in which employees are valued, management is transparent and the work environment is open and honest are just a few ways to increase job satisfaction.  If you need assistance with attraction and retention strategies, contact Kelly Mead, Director of HR Services at 317-587-1019.