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What Is Lateral Hiring?

Lateral hiring is the process of hiring a professional from another organization into a role that is the same as their current position with the same salary. This is usually done when a company needs to fill a high-level position and is looking for a seasoned professional who can fill that vacancy.

There are numerous benefits to lateral hiring: First and foremost, you get an employee who has experience with the job you need to fill, so your organization will save time and money on training. This can be particularly important when a company needs to fill a position that demands certain specialized skills in the face of a shortage of qualified talent.

Also, bringing in a lateral hire means that you have someone with a wealth of both hard and soft skills that were applied in a different setting. As a result, this new hire brings new life into an existing position in your company, which can go a long way toward enhancing operations and innovation. A lateral hire also will have established industry contacts that your organization can benefit from.

5 Tips for Lateral Hiring

Although the goal of finding a lateral hire is the same as with any other recruiting you do—finding the best fit for the job—the process is different. Since you’re looking for someone who is already established in the role you’re trying to fill, and essentially attempting to woo them from their current job, there are different strategies you should use during this process. The following are five tips that can help.

Define what you need 

Just as with other hiring your organization does, you should start with understanding the skills candidates will need to have to be qualified for the position you want to fill. But with lateral hiring, you have to take this a step further by looking at what skills are common in your overall industry, as well as the challenges that your industry faces and how someone in this position will tackle them. This will help you define the perfect candidate for the position so you know what knowledge and skills you should look for.

Research candidates thoroughly 

Lateral hires are not going to be found in many of the places you may normally find candidates, like job boards, so you’re going to need to continue your industry research to find the right people—and you may have to identify candidates outside of your local area or even your state. Who are the movers and shakers in your industry that would be a good fit? Who participates in industry organizations and events? Who has published respected work about your field? Ask yourself these questions to help identify possible candidates and when you have a good pool, do research on the individuals’ track record to create your shortlist.

Come up with a pitch

Since lateral hiring is generally done on the executive level with the same salary tier, money is not a motivating factor that you can use to entice your candidates. Instead, you have to think like your candidates and use the research you did on them to figure out what would motivate them to leave their current organization to hop over to yours. With these candidates, you really want to sell your company, so spend time thinking about what you have to offer that their current employer doesn’t. Is it the perks on top of salary and benefits? Does your company culture make you more attractive? Do you have a mission statement that would align with the values of the candidates? Based on your knowledge of where a prospective hire works, is there a chance they may be feeling unappreciated? When contacting your shortlist of candidates, make sure you’re armed with a strong case of why your company is a better choice than their current one.

Contact candidates discretely 

Lateral hiring is a delicate proposition that should be handled with the utmost of care—especially since the people you want to interview are going to be passive candidates. Be sure to contact them in a private, confidential way so their employer doesn’t find out you’re courting one of their workers. When you get in touch with them, just explain who you are and where you’re from, and ask if they would be interested in hearing about an opportunity you have available. If they are, schedule a time to talk. If not, don’t try to convince them, just move on to the next person on your shortlist.

Onboard lateral hires strategically 

You’ve gone through the process and hired the best lateral candidate for the position. Great! But if you think your work ends there, think again. Although a lateral hire does not need training on how to do the job, they will need training on your organization and its culture to increase your chances of retaining them. On this level, onboarding should be an extensive process where you strive to help your new hire fit into your organization quickly. To help you do this, you may want to incorporate classes and mentoring into the process to immerse the new employee into the organizational culture.

When you need to fill a high-level position in your company, lateral hiring may be the best choice to find the right candidate. By using these tips, you can locate the right person, hire them, and increase your chances of successfully integrating them into your company so you can retain them.

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