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Use professional staffing services to find and protect top talent

Early in March, Dice, the IT-focused job board, put out a three sentence post referencing some data they accumulated through a poll of hiring managers. The sexy takeaway from those three sentences?

Fifty-four percent of hiring managers and recruiters surveyed anticipate that tech talent poaching will get more aggressive in 2011. The statement has gotten plenty of play since it was released, and it's still being discussed in professional circles.

It's a curious statistic, but I'm a little suspect of the term "poaching." Admittedly, I'm not well versed on what employment law says about aggressive recruiting tactics. But a simple search on the terms legal and poaching turn up more about the DOJ's concern about cross company no-solicitation agreements (like the recent settlement between the likes of Google and Apple with the DOJ) than anti-poaching criteria. It seems employers have more to worry about if they are colluding with competitors in order to keep specific types of talent rather than if they are using aggressive recruiting to tempt talent away from competitors.

Regardless of whether or not poaching will become a problem for employers of skilled technical professionals, it's smart to prepare for finding and hanging on to them in a more competitive job market. Where should investments be made in order to protect your talented technical professionals? What tactics can be used to develop some aggressive recruiting of your own?

One surprising area might be to focus your attention on evaluating and developing the relationships you have with professional staffing services. Why? Because the good professional staffing service providers make it their business to invest in talent for the long term. Quick access to talent, after all, is the lifeblood of their top line revenue.

Talent is the most important asset. Simply put, if a professional staffing service firm cannot quickly place a qualified individual into an opportunity, they lose money. Talent is an asset that has a direct impact to the revenue of the company, not to mention the income of the recruiters and account managers doing the placement.

This importance translates into investment. Professional staffing services firms are continuously making investments in building out the talent community, engaging frequently and meaningfully with that targeted candidate community, and aggressively recruiting the best candidates into the most attractive opportunities.

These investments create deeper relationships between the employee and the professional staffing services provider, and these relationships are easily leveraged by the company that places the talent. It is a benefit for all parties.

The company using the talent will be quick to find more opportunities for them. The staffing provider finds consistent and ongoing openings for the employee. And the employee gains experience and access to consistent opportunity. Frequently, these situations end up in a loyal, long-term, full-time employee for the firm -- one that is less likely to jump ship at the first temptation or claim of greener employment pastures.

Poaching of technical professionals might or might not be real, and it might or might not become more frequent as the overall economic situation continues to improve. Regardless, investing time in developing your relationship with your professional staffing services providers could be one avenue to creatively and aggressively source new talent into the organization and protect it for the long-term.

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