What is Lateral Hiring and Recruitment?

Companies nowadays strive to hire the best talents due to the rise of the internet as a recruitment medium alongside the availability of a global talent pool. Lateral hiring has become a popular strategy to hire experienced, high-performing professionals from other organisations to perform a similar role at your company. Lateral hiring has many benefits, helping your organisation maintain its workflow and motive power. However, is lateral recruitment the right move for your company? Read and find out.

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The meaning of lateral hiring

Lateral hiring is the method of sourcing and hiring competent recruits from other companies. It is a specialised hiring process that seeks to hire experts for important executive and niche organisational roles.

Most companies offer their employees the chance to climb the professional ladder, rewarding exceptional performance with career advancement. This method ensures that a company’s leadership roles are filled with skilled, ambitious employees who have risen through the ranks over the years.

However, sometimes your company might require external recruitment of experienced professionals who can immediately hit the ground running. Lateral hiring enables companies to recruit professionals with the requisite leadership skills and expertise to impact your organisation positively.

Lateral hiring is different from regular hiring as the hires already possess the necessary experience to excel in their assigned position instead of the traditionally hired recruits who may require training for the same role. As these qualified candidates are satisfied with their current position in the other company, you will need to make an attractive offer to convince them to join your organisation instead.

While challenging, lateral hiring can be an efficient and effective way of recruitment as it yields ready-made experienced employees.

Advantages of lateral hiring

Lateral hiring can be a quick and painless solution to make some crucial experienced hires for your organisation.

1. Saves time and money

Lateral recruitment can help your company to save time and money by providing an experienced and skilled employee who is already well-versed in the intricacies of the role. So, you get an employee who can immediately perform their designated tasks without requiring any investment of resources in training.

2. Reduces the risk of hiring the wrong person

Sometimes, companies can make the wrong hire despite implementing a thorough and rigorous recruitment process. The fresh recruits may prove to be incompatible with the duties associated with their designated roles. However, lateral hiring can reduce this risk extensively, as the candidate is pre-qualified, having already been screened and performing their job duties satisfactorily at another organisation.

3. Brings skills from different work settings

A laterally hired recruit can often possess a versatile skillset due to their extensive work experience. These skills can prove particularly handy in troubleshooting the various workplace challenges they may experience in their new role and help them to adjust quickly.

4. Improves the branding of the company

Lateral hiring can significantly improve the branding of your company amongst its competitors. Successfully hiring top talent while fending off competitors’ interests helps establish your company as an ideal work destination for the best talent. Over the time, this reputation can be quite attractive to potential recruits. Thus, the lateral hiring of top talent enables your company’s HR to be even more successful in making future hires in a competitive job market.

5. Helps to build a better talent pool of qualified candidates

Lateral recruitment broadens the horizons of your talent pool. No longer relying on hiring freshers, your company can selectively choose from the best employees who currently do their job in other companies. So, HR can enjoy having a talent pool of highly qualified candidates while hiring someone else in the future.

When done right, lateral hiring can significantly help your company, providing exceptional employees who possess your desired profile.

Challenges of lateral hiring

While lateral hiring may seem advantageous to your organisation, the process also carries some challenges that your organisation needs to consider.

1. An inefficient hiring process

The lateral hiring process does not give you the luxury of creating job ads and using software to filter suitable candidates. You have to be discreet while trying to recruit experienced, established professionals who work at other organisations. This makes lateral hiring challenging as you can’t extensively screen such candidates and solely rely on your research.

2. Lack of behavioural assessment

It can be challenging to objectively analyse the personality and behaviour of potential hires. Ultimately, a company relies on the sole discretion of its HRs to make the correct call while making the hire. However, being human, HRs are also exposed to biases that may inform their decision. This can sabotage your lateral hiring, and you may recruit employees who do not align with the company’s culture and values.

3. Lack of means to measure role-specific knowledge

Candidates considered during lateral hiring may seem pre-qualified with their extensive experience and previous project wins listed on their resumes. However, this is not the barometer of the extent of their role-specific knowledge. HRs must be careful while asking these experienced candidates to test their skills as they cannot take risk offending them. Thus, HRs end up relying on their personal interaction with the candidates to take decisions.

How to do lateral hiring?

As highlighted above, lateral hiring can be challenging yet rewarding recruitment strategy. Since you cannot place an open job listing nor advertise this position, you are searching for someone who’s an established professional with a proven track record. Then, you have to reach out to this potential candidate and convince them to switch over to your company. 

There are seven steps to lateral hiring.

1. Define the exact requirements of your company

 As lateral hiring is discreet, there are not hundreds of resumes to choose from. A company needs to know the exact skillset and area of expertise required to shortlist the right candidate. This clarity can help you identify potential candidates who are the right fit for the role needed in your organisation.

 2. Identify and research your potential prospects

It is important to thoroughly search through your industry’s professional network, shortlisting potential candidates who stand out due to their actions and excellence. You will need to be sure about their suitability for your role as you are approaching professionals who are already happily working elsewhere.

3. Define your company’s USP

Why should a well-settled professional switch over to your company? Coming up with selling points for your company can be crucial to improve your chances of success in lateral hiring. The basic remuneration for executive positions is similar across the industry, so you will need to come up with other perks and professional possibilities that make your company a lucrative prospect for your candidates.

4. Discreetly make contact

Contacting the candidate can be tricky, as these are successful, well-established professionals who might be put off by your approach and may even take offence if you have been digging up their history. It would help to approach your prospects with skill and discretion, keeping the interaction brief and precise. HRs should inquire about the candidate’s interest in the available opportunity while avoiding spilling too much company information.

5. Negotiate

Once the prospect positively responds to your approach, it is time to negotiate. Your company’s USP will come in handy as you make a compelling pitch for your company. Understanding your prospect’s profile and offering them something more than just better pay is essential. You can offer them more perks and a challenging yet rewarding role that leverages their leadership skills and experience. This will considerably improve your chances of attracting suitable candidates.

6. Make an offer

After successful negotiations, it is crucial that you swiftly make them a lucrative offer. There is relatively less room to haggle on the company’s behalf as professionals at the executive level are already well-established. Ensure that your offer meets their expectations, as you might not get another chance to hire them.

7. Strategically onboard the hire

It is challenging to onboard lateral hires as they occupy executive decision-making positions. While they are trained, skilled, and successful professionals, you will need to seamlessly integrate them into your company’s work culture and ensure they feel at home.

By following these steps, you can recruit, hire, and onboard your lateral hires, thus ensuring your company’s long-term success.

Lateral hiring can be an exciting recruitment method that can supplement your traditional hiring strategies. A successful lateral hire provides your company with an experienced professional who can soak up the pressure and rise to the challenges of leadership positions in your company. While it can be challenging for HRs to recruit accomplished, well-established professionals, lateral hiring can reap great dividends for your company.

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