How to Make Your Employees Recruiter Proof

As a result of the great recession companies have begun learning how to squeeze more from less.  The best example of this might be trying to get more from their most important asset – their employees. With fewer employees carrying more responsibilities than ever before it is critical for employers to hang onto their top talent. Lose one key player and suddenly you might experience chaos which can cause rippling negative effects through the firm. In a recent conversation I had with an HR Director, she shared that with the improving economy she suddenly had more executive recruiters contacting her firms “A” players and offering them a new job. She asked me if in my experience as a security gave me any insight about how other companies insulated themselves from recruiters attracting their top talent away. The short answer is no.

Quality recruiters are as effective at their job as your best employees are at theirs. Identifying and recruiting your top talent is how they create value for those firms who engage them; in short, it is what they get paid to do. One important clarification – executive search consultants don’t offer your top-tier talent a new job, they only offer them a potentially better career opportunity. The recruiter can’t say with certainty that it is a better opportunity. That determination is for the candidate to make should they decide to go forward with the interview process.

While you can’t halt recruiters from contacting your employees, you can more effectively direct your resources towards making your staff resistant to fielding new opportunities a recruiter might present them. The single most effective way to counteract a recruiter’s effort is by making sure that your best staff members are happy with their job and can’t imagine themselves leaving. During my career as a security recruiter I have made thousands of recruiting calls. In my experience, employees that really enjoy their work, the environment they are part of, and respect their superiors, often thank me for calling and then tell me they have no interest in making a change.  They sometimes even offer to refer me to a colleague who is qualified to learn more about the job I described. Why is this?

It is my belief that the best defense against quality recruiters is to constantly provide your employees with these three things; 1) The opportunity for professional development. The most talented professionals are very intelligent and curious. They love learning and if you are not offering them this opportunity they will begin to feel stale and look for other opportunities that stimulate them and offer greater challenge and growth potential. 2) The belief that their work is making a difference. Talented players don’t want to just perform busy work. They want to see and to know that their effort and hard work is having an impact in a meaningful way toward their positions stated goals. 3) They are progressing and developing as an individual. This requires the support of a boss that they respect and one who is willing to invest the time in them and to value and understand their needs. A leader that challenges them in an effort to make sure year after year they are growing as a person and more becoming effective as an employee. No doubt this concept is where the saying that people don’t leave a company, they leave their boss originates.

If you provide an environment where your employees are learning, have a meaningful impact on your company’s goals and mission, and work for a boss they respect, you won’t have to worry about recruiters. Instead, your company will gain a reputation as a great place to work and your greatest worry will be how to accommodate your thriving business. Wouldn’t that be a great problem to have?

David Lammert

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