Hiring Wisdom: Quit Giving Great People to the Competition!

Illustration by istockphoto.com
Illustration by istockphoto.com

In my recruiting, hiring, and retention presentations, I always ask how many people in the audience are now working for an employer they previously left.

And for the past 25 plus years, it never fails that approximately 20 percent of the participants raise their hands.

Independent research and my own experiences concur, the #1, most overlooked source of trained, skilled, excellent employees is all the great people who used to work for you. So why do most employers keep giving these great people away? Although job-hopping is more the rule than the exception nowadays, most people tend to stay in the same industry. So, when a competitor (or even someone from a different industry) calls you for a reference on someone you’d like to have back, it tells you two things:

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  1. That person is looking for a new job; and,
  2. Now is the most opportune time to call and invite them back.

So, before you give a great former employee away, tell the person asking for the reference that you need the applicant’s current phone number so you can call the applicant and get their permission to share the requested information. Then call that great former employee and invite them back. Even if they are not interested, it’s your chance to tell them the door is always open.

This was originally published in the June 2011 Humetrics Hiring Hints newsletter.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.