Is recruiting employees from a struggling competitor a proven talent acquisition strategy?

If one of your largest competitors is struggling, is that a prime time to poach their top talent? Would recruiting employees from that competitor be considered good gesture in an effort to avoid employee hardship, or a calculated talent acquisition strategy?

By now the entire country is aware of the situation with Market Basket Supermarkets – the executive disagreement, employee protests, and pending collapse of the overall business. The HR industry has been especially interested in this saga, as seen here on The Workforce Institute’s blog and on the local news channels daily here in the northeast. My colleague Joyce Maroney was interviewed just last week as you can see here.

Personally, I am a Hannaford Supermarket customer (primarily based on proximity to my home) and am in my local store multiple times per week (the result of having 4 teenagers). On a recent visit to the store, I saw one of the most interesting talent acquisition strategies I’ve ever witnessed.

At the entrance my Hannaford store was a big, pink sign with a handwritten message:

MB SignMarket Basket Employees

Let us help you through this difficult time.

Hannaford is hiring temporary help for the remainder of the boycott.

Inquire within for details.”

I wasn’t sure if this was a kind gesture, a marketing ploy, or a strategic hiring initiative?

Needless to say, if the Market Basket employees were so loyal to their former CEO that they chose to boycott their employer and risk losing their job, the idea that they would actually leave and go to a competitor seemed far-fetched.

Yet with recruiting, and talent acquisition being such a challenge for so many organizations, particularly in retail, landing one skilled, experienced employee from this effort could prove highly beneficial. The idea is by no means unique. There are dozens of blogs and news articles on how to recruit talent from your competition.

I am curious to know if recruiters look for competitors that suddenly face an issue that could impact their workforce and target them specifically. Let me know what you think.

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One thought on “Is recruiting employees from a struggling competitor a proven talent acquisition strategy?

  1. “I am curious to know if recruiters look for competitors that suddenly face an issue that could impact their workforce and target them specifically.”

    In a word: Yes! This is a very common tactic used by any experienced recruiter. Staying on top of the market landscape is vital to recruiting success, and a recruiter who does their Competitive Intelligence homework can provide lots of insights to their employer, even outside of the hiring realm.

    Still, there is a good amount of debate about the effectiveness of hiring from one’s competitors, with very valid arguments being made that new hires from competitors are less effective than internal candidates. Then there are also issues with non-compete agreements, but these obviously wouldn’t apply in the supermarket case you highlight.

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