How hiring talent from rivals can be beneficial

Apart from getting out trade secrets and intelligence about what the competition is up to, there are other advantages of hiring from rivals.


There is fierce competition amongst organisations in every sector. Every company has its own unique proposition to capture the market. Organisations use various methods to stay ahead of the game and ensure an edge over competitors. One such technique is strategic hiring.

Though companies try to create a working culture, which is very different from that of their competitors, sometimes a lot of employees keep switching between rival companies.

It is rather common to have employees working in various departments moving between competition, but it is not necessary that companies deliberately poach talent. Sometimes, it is the employees themselves who tend to switch to rival companies, of their own accord. The probability of talent poaching also varies from industry to industry. Talent acquisition and HR leaders claim to not deliberately encourage poaching of talent but if they do get someone, there could be nothing better!

Apart from trade secrets and business intelligence related to the next move of your rivals, there are many other factors that make hiring from competition beneficial.

“It is good if people wish to join you, of their own accord. However, as leaders, we do not encourage poaching of talent in anyway. We may encourage our recruiters to stay updated about the top talent on the rival side, but not to lure them deliberately,” says a senior talent acquisition leader.

Advantages of hiring talent from competition

Shift of rival client or customer base – When you hire a sales representative from the rival company, the first thing you can expect is that the organisation also gets the opportunity to poach the clients or customer base of their rivals. Some clients who share a great relationship with the sales representatives often do shift their business to the other company, even though it may not always happen. A lot depends on whether the client was giving business just on the basis of a great relationship with the sales representative(s), or the quality of the former company’s services.

Investment on on-boarding – When you hire a person from the same industry, it is because you value that person’s knowledge of the business. Also, companies do not have to waste time and money on onboarding, which results in huge savings.

Better turnaround time – Another advantage is that it would be easy for the employees to get on the floor quickly and start working on the given project. As they have knowledge of the business and industry, it is easier for them to get to work quickly.

Though many people think that hiring from arch rivals can increase productivity, it does not really have any correlation. The productivity of the Company depends on a lot of other factors, such as the culture and L&D practices of the organisation.

“There is no guarantee that the productivity will go up but the probability is quite high when you are hiring someone from the same industry,” states Praveer Priyadarshi, a senior HR leader.

Ajay Tiwari, VP-HR, Lupin, adds, “There is no correlation as such with the productivity but the person surely adds value by bringing in knowledge and expertise to the organisation.”

Another myth which revolves around hiring from rivals is that, it is only beneficial when someone from the sales department is hired. We know that hiring someone from sales will affect the business directly but other roles are also business enablers.

“Each function in a business adds value, and hiring from rivals in any other department, such as HR, marketing or administrative roles, adds value,” shares a senior HR leader.

According to Tiwari, “Hiring someone from competitors in the same industry does increase the scalability in non-functional roles. This adds to the overall productivity, but unfortunately, there is nothing to quantify that.”

Priyadarshi has a different approach to this. He says, “Hiring someone from the same industry in business-enabling roles is valuable, but I like being diverse in such cases. When we take people from different industries, it adds more value by inviting different perspectives, which are diverse in nature.”

Many mature businesses are not expected to poach talent and be involved in such unethical practices, which can ruin their employer branding. By talking to experts, we got to know that it is mostly the organisations that are insecure, whose only goal is to be the number one, and think that competition is everything, that are involved in such practices.

While HRKatha does not wish to encourage the practice of poaching talent, we simply wish to bring forward a perspective for discussion and knowledge purposes. Some of the HR leaders found this topic so sensitive that they did not wish to even participate in it. People need to understand that hiring talent from rivals is not unethical, but deliberately poaching them is.

As an organisation, we firmly condemn poaching talent as a practice and will always encourage people to take a fair and objective approach.

Comment on the Article

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

9 − 9 =