It’s common knowledge among executive recruiters that when the businesses contracting with them are looking to hire for C-level and executive positions, the best candidates are often already happily employed elsewhere. There is a small percentage of qualified applicants for upper-level or management roles looking for work and sending resumes to internet job postings. But experienced executive recruiters know the best, most-qualified person for the job needs to be sought out and can prove far more talented than the top candidates who have applied.

It’s a dynamic that makes sense. If someone is competent, innovative, hard-working, and dependable, they tend to get noticed and take on fulfilling employment. And innovative, talented, dependable employees are an asset at any level. That talent creates a tension: Great employees and executive leaders are the greatest commodity a business can have and the only commodity that another business is allowed to take.

Because they are so valuable an asset, their employers are unwilling to give them up. That means hiring top-tier talent doesn’t come without risks. Being aware of those risks and working with C-level recruiting professionals who know how to mitigate them are invaluable.

Not a Magic Bullet

It is important to distinguish between the fact that the best talent is already spoken for and an assertion that spoken-for talent is therefore the best for your business. There’s an all-too-common business trope in which corporate brass hear glowing reports of a local star rising in another industry. Convinced that success in one field is a modular property, they lure this star to their side of the fence. And they promptly discover that ecommerce recruitment doesn’t work as well for mining consultancy or farm equipment marketing. Some skills, experience, and attributes are transferable to other fields and others aren’t.

But it’s not just how skills and experience are transferable. In the hyper-competitive business environment, it’s easy to forget how important culture-fit can be. Hiring managers, recruiters, HR personnel, and executive teams are increasingly discovering that having employees, management, and staff who share the same expectations, respond to the same style of leadership is incredibly important. Productivity and profit can be crippled if even an incredibly talented executive and their subordinates can’t figure out how to work together.

Legal Issues and Noncompetes

Hiring talent away from another company has other pitfalls as well. High on the list of those are legal issues that can result from hiring-away talent, including violation of noncompete agreements. When it comes to protecting proprietary information, an industrial espionage hire for trade secrets, or preventing an employee from using their training to immediately set up a competing business, most companies will aggressively enforce their noncompete agreement.

Peripheral legal risks include abetting the violation of a contract with a high-level hire. Depending on how high-level the hire is, should the new executive begin hiring away big chunks of their previous coworkers, they risk infringing on “duty of loyalty” statutes. These risks can be heightened when they involve analytic recruiting, when the information a new hire or team has can be worth a substantial amount of money.

As dire and risky as all of that sounds, there are some pretty simple solutions, like oversight, subtle and non-binding interviewing, being familiar with the necessary compliance, etc. However, one of the best solutions is to contract out executive and C-level recruiting responsibility to a professional executive recruiting firm. After all, it’s their job to be familiar with all the minutiae of hiring executives from another organization, and they can save a company a lot of time, hassle, and in many cases, money, by navigating these trickier details.

About BrainWorks

Over the course of 25-plus years, BrainWorks has established a reputation as a premier innovator and thought leader in the executive recruiting business. They make businesses better by leveraging their own proprietary talent-finding solutions—the Talent Evaluation Process (TEP), Talent Acquisition Profile (TAP), and Seven Traits to Assess Results (STAR)—to identify the top talent for executive and C-level positions. BrainWorks specializes in placing top-tier marketing and analytics, big data, customer insight, and ecommerce professionals with industry-specific recruiters, including CPG recruiters.

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