How to Make Yourself Poachable


There are few things more flattering than getting an unsolicited call from a recruiter. Not only does it affirm your reputation—not to mention your skills—it’s likely to put you in a strong negotiating position when the time comes to respond to a job offer.

But if you’re not getting those calls, there’s a chance you’re doing too good a job of keeping yourself to yourself.

People get poached for a number of reasons, and pure skill is only one of them. After all, if recruiters don’t know you’re out there, they can’t make that phone call in the first place. So here are a few tips on how to make yourself more visible.

Click here to see software engineering jobs.

Be an Expert

OK, we know you’ve got real expertise in your technology. But you need to go further, and show people how much you know and how good you are at putting it to use. In other words, it’s all about finding ways to stand out in the business, says James Duran, CEO of Duran HCP, a technical recruiting firm based in Campbell, Calif.

That means pursuing visible professional accomplishments in your area of expertise, like publishing your code. And, says Duran, be sure to tape into GitHub or whatever is the publishing “flavor of the day.” Remember to include your publishing activities in your online profiles.

Another tactic is to stay connected to industry groups, ideally by taking a leadership role and trying your hand as a speaker at an event. “Contribute to the pool of knowledge, and you’ll be more likely to get on a recruiter’s radar,” says Duran.

Know Your Audience

Recruiters like to target candidates who aren’t even looking for work, especially when it comes to hard-to-find skill sets. So, it’s important to stay on top of industry and technical trends so you’ll know exactly what those skills are, says Julia Berning, Talent Acquisition Manager at Cincinnati-based business software company Cincom Systems. “Due to technology evolving all the time, it’s important to keep up with skill sets and certifications to meet the demand and needs,” she says. For example, she sees hard demand for individuals skilled in Dynamics AX, CRM and .NET development, and says they’re regularly poached.

One thing that never goes out of style is expertise in dealing with clients. Companies are almost always in need of people who can work as a developer and be customer-facing at the same time, says Berning. So, being able to work in both of those roles increases your attractiveness to recruiters.

Be Social

Because so many recruiters use social media as a starting point in their search, tech professionals need an up-to-date and active online presence. Not only do recruiters frequent social networking sites, they’re likely to conduct Boolean searches on Google and other search engines, as well. Says Janet Fouts, CEO of Tatu Digital Media in San Jose: “If you want to be poachable, you have to be found online.”

It’s important to be visible even when you’re not actively looking for a job. In addition to publishing code, be sure to post comments on websites relevant to your area of expertise, or write analyses on pertinent technology or sector developments on industry websites or your own blog. Fouts notes that despite the bad press it gets, Google+ is still populated by a ton of software engineers, so creating circles and making yourself visible as a thought leader there can be a useful approach.

“Be quotable,” Fouts urges. “Develop thought leadership in some form, whether it’s on Google+, Reddit or blogging.”

Related Articles

Image: Jirsak/Shutterstock .com

2 Responses to “How to Make Yourself Poachable”

  1. Rob S

    Interesting thoughts but…
    “There are few things more flattering than getting an unsolicited call from a recruiter. ”

    I’ve found that most recruiters are in it for their own gain. If you have a skill that can make them money, they’ll contact you…to me that’s not flattery but usury.
    I’m amazed at how many times I’ve had recruiters contact me because they found a tiny morsel of skill buried deep in my resume and talk to me like I’m the best thing on Earth for some job using the latest version of this technology that I haven’t touched in 10 years.
    Sorry for being so skeptical, but follow the money.

    But keeping yourself updated on those sites like LinkedIn can certainly lead to some useful connections.