Lateral Hiring: How To Do It Right

Lateral Hiring

Have you ever struggled to fill open positions requiring an incredibly specific skill set? This can make the recruitment process difficult at the best of times, but it’s made even more difficult if your industry is also dealing with talent shortages. If you’re not having much luck with the usual job boards and recruitment channels, lateral hiring is a practical alternative.

What is lateral hiring and when should you use it?

With lateral hiring, you’re approaching prospective candidates directly to join your organisation. These individuals are often referred to as passive candidates, as they’re not typically looking to leave their existing positions.

Otherwise known as headhunting, lateral hiring makes it far easier to find potential prospects who possess the right balance of skills and experience needed for senior management roles and other demanding positions. Other times, lateral hiring can be used to find potential candidates who already have an understanding of your company’s culture, processes, and procedures

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Key benefits of lateral hiring

One of the most obvious advantages of lateral recruitment is that it can dramatically reduce your time to hire. However, this isn’t the only way that lateral hiring benefits a company.

Reduces the chance of a bad hire

In a job market that favours job seekers, it can be tricky for companies to find the perfect candidate. Even if a potential employee proves a good match with a job description, there’s no guarantee that they’ll actually thrive in a role. They may struggle to adapt to your company culture, or the experience they’ve listed on their CV may have been overblown.

With a lateral hire, you can be more confident that the person you’ve picked for the job is the right one. As they’re not actively looking for work, they have no reason to pad out their CV with exaggerated experience. What’s more, you know that they’ve recently performed a similar role successfully.

Time and cost-saving benefits

This process of hiring also saves companies considerable time and money. The recruitment process in general is shorter, removing the burden from hiring managers and HR teams. However, the benefits continue even after a candidate accepts a job offer. As they already possess the right skills to perform their role effectively, you won’t have to spend as many resources into training and onboarding.

Fresh insights and outside perspective

While you’ll want to avoid a culture clash, some differences of opinion can prove useful. An outside perspective can force you to rethink the way you do business, improving processes and boosting productivity.

Improved talent pools

If your current talent pool is pretty thin and lacks high-quality candidates, lateral hiring will help improve things. You’re no longer having to take a chance on complete strangers with unverified experience and work histories. Simply put, you’ll have your pick of the most suitable candidates for those hard-to-fill roles.

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Boosts the brand reputation of your business

If you’re successful with lateral hiring, you can expect a significant boost to your reputation as a business and employer. By enriching your workforce with the best possible talent, you’ll make yourself increasingly attractive to other candidates. What’s more, by poaching talent from other companies, you’ll give yourself a serious competitive advantage.

Why lateral hiring is different from standard recruitment

While both approaches yield the same result, lateral hiring is a far more specialised process than conventional recruitment. When hiring traditionally, job descriptions are uploaded to job boards or careers pages. Job seekers see these openings and apply for them directly.

With lateral hiring, there are no active job seekers to speak of. Instead, you’re dealing with passive candidates who aren’t actively looking for work as they’re currently engaged with other employers. Lateral hiring involves recruiters approaching these passive candidates directly. To encourage a candidate to jump ship, making a simple job offer usually isn’t sufficient. Instead, a recruiter will need to make a convincing argument as to why someone should leave the familiarity and security of an existing role for a new one.

Lateral hiring process steps

Despite its difference from regular recruitment, the lateral hiring process is relatively straightforward. Read on for a breakdown of how it all works:

1. Clearly define business needs and role requirements

Lateral hiring can produce better recruitment decisions, but you need to remember that you’re dealing with a pretty narrow talent pool. To increase your odds of landing the best possible person for the role, identify what your company actually requires and what a role entails.

2. Identify potential candidates

Armed with a detailed job description and role requirements, you can now start looking for candidates. Your talent pool may already contain desirable individuals, while social media channels and networking channels can offer more candidates. Shortlist the most suitable ones, underlining why they’d be such a good fit with your organisation.

What is Lateral Hiring

3. Create a compelling argument

Lateral hires will ultimately need convincing to leave their current employer and take a chance on you. To improve your likelihood of success, make sure you have a compelling argument in place. Sometimes, simply offering a higher salary is all that’s needed. Other times, you’ll need to outline more USPs and illustrate why your organisation is head and shoulders above the rest.

4. Make contact with candidates

Reaching out to candidates is one of the most difficult parts of the lateral hiring process. Some people will feel flattered by being headhunted, while others may be awkward about it. Discretion is key here, so make sure recruiters and HR teams have a delicate approach.

When in doubt, start small when engaging candidates, enquiring as to whether they’d be open to new opportunities. If you reveal too much information about vacant roles and talent shortfalls, you can set yourself at a distinct disadvantage.

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5. Be open to negotiation

Negotiation is another key element of the lateral hiring process. You’ll usually have to show some leeway to convince an unsure individual to accept the role. Being flexible with remuneration or perks will increase your odds of landing the most desirable candidates.

6. Formal job offer

If a candidate responds well, be prepared to move quickly. They’re already in a secure position with another employer, so there’s always the chance they’ll back out of negotiations. By being able to make them a swift and decisive job offer, you’ll stand a much better chance at securing the talent you need for a role.

7. Onboarding lateral hires

Generally speaking, lateral hires require less training and onboarding. However, you may still encounter some difficulty when bringing someone new into the fold. You already know that a candidate has sufficient expertise to excel in a role, so skills training isn’t really a concern. However, ingratiating new hires into your company’s culture may require more investment.

Is it time to rethink your approach to recruitment?

If standard recruitment methods aren’t delivering the candidates you need, lateral hiring is definitely something worth experimenting with. With a lateral hire, you can be confident that you’re getting a highly-skilled professional with the right industry expertise. Are you recruiting for a senior-level position? A lateral higher can also bring with them an extensive network of contacts. This can help you realise business objectives, while also helping future recruitment efforts.

Ready to rethink the way you recruit and make lateral hiring the standard? You can make the process even more streamlined with the right tools. With Teamdash, you get an industry-leading applicant tracking system packed with premium features that will overhaul the hiring process. Use automation to maintain clear lines of communication with candidates or create an ever-growing talent pool to help you fill future roles. Adopting a more traditional approach to fill other roles? With Teamdash, you can set up asynchronous video interviews, stay connected with candidates, and ensure stakeholders are on the same page with handy collaboration tools.

Do you want to find more ways that Teamdash can help you reach your recruitment goals? Why not book a demo today?

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Triin Elias

Triin Elias

Customer Success Team Lead

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